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Police Enter Colorado Gunman's 'Booby-Trapped' Apartment

Subrina Hudson |
July 20, 2012 | 12:28 p.m. PDT

Executive Producer


James Holmes, 24, was taken into custody shortly after the shootings inside an Aurora movie theatre. (marvelousRoland/Flickr)
James Holmes, 24, was taken into custody shortly after the shootings inside an Aurora movie theatre. (marvelousRoland/Flickr)
Police in Aurora, Colo. entered the apartment of James Holmes, 24, on Friday shortly after taking him into custody in the parking lot behind the theater, where he is alleged to have opened fire during the midnight premiere of the film "The Dark Knight Rises."

The University of Colorado medical student, who was in the process of dropping out of a graduate program in neurosciences, lived five miles away from the movie theater. 

Chris Henderson, Aurora's deputy fire chief, told The Chicago Tribune that the suspect's apartment was "crisscrossed with trip wires connected to what appeared to be plastic bottles containing an unknown liquid." Authorities planned to detonate the suspected explosives with a robot.

"The pictures are fairly disturbing. It looks very sophisticated, how it's booby-trapped. It could be a very long wait," said Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates.

Police have blocked off a three-block area around the apartment complex in north Aurora. The Denver Post says residents were evacuated around 2 a.m. as police searched the third floor of the apartment building.

The gunman burst in during the movie through the emergency exit door less than 10 minutes into the film. He used three weapons - a shotgun, an assault rifle and a handgun - and two gas canisters that clouded the room and "stung people's eyes and throats."

"He looked like he was in the military or like he was a SWAT person so he just kind of blended in with the chaos of the crowd. People thought he was probably like a cop or something," witness Jennifer Seeger told NBC's "Today."

Police received multiple calls about the shooting starting at 12:39 a.m. and arrived at the theater complex on 14300 E. Alameda Ave. several minutes later.

Police from all over the metro area were called to the scene.

The Post reports 71 people have been shot and 12 killed. Ten were found dead inside the theater and the other two died at a nearby hospital. 

Six people were brought to Children's Hospital Colorado, ranging in age from 6 to 31 years old. Two were shot by a rifle and three had buckshot wounds while another was injured by shrapnel. 

Dr. Guy Upshaw, the emergency room physician, told the Daily Reporter that he believes the buckshot likely came from a shotgun, but the small, metal pellets can also come from explosive devices.

The Denver Post said:

Josh Kelly, 28, was watching the movie with his girlfriend of about four years. He lost her in the chaos.

Josh called his father, Robert Kelly, from the theater and said: "I can't find my girl." In the mayhem, the darkness and the smoke, and people panicking and trampling one another, he "just lost track and he couldn't see," the elder Kelly said. "My son is freaked out."

Robert Kelly rushed to the theater after his son's call, and found him outside covered in blood. His girlfriend was among the fatalities. Now he is home and sedated, under a nurse's care.

Authorities searched a white care parked behind the movie theater and removed what appeared to be a combat helmet, a duffel bag, an ammunition clip and a vest. A second handgun was also found inside Holmes' car but police are unsure whether it was used during the attack.

The Post:

Corbin Dates and Jennifer Seeger were sitting in the second row of the theater when Dates saw someone in the front row answer a phone call during the opening credits and walk to the emergency door in the front of the theater.

Less than an hour later, a man, dressed in black and wearing a gas mask and what looked like body armor, entered through the same emergency exit. He lobbed two canisters, and almost instantly the theater filled with smoke.

Dates and Seeger, like others in the theater, thought the man and the smoke were all part of the show, they said. Right as their eyes began to tear up from the smoke, the man fired a shot at the ceiling.

The gunman moved through the crowd and stopped in front of Seeger.

He pointed a long rifle at her face and said nothing.

He shot at the person sitting behind her, Seeger said.

"I have no idea why he didn't shoot me," Seeger said.

The two dived to the ground. They could feel hot shell casings hitting their legs as the tried to crawl through the dark theater now filled with smoke. Seeger's forehead has a burn from one of the casings.

Her friends urged each other and the people around them to stay quiet, desperate not to draw the attention of the gunman who was working his way up the aisle.

As she huddled on the ground, Seeger could see bodies of women and children lying around her.

Seeger, who has some EMT training, tried to help a man bleeding next to her. She worked to find a pulse but was forced to leave him behind as they tried to flee the theater.

A San Diego neighbor of the alleged Colorado gunman said he remembers Holmes as a shy and well-mannered man who was heavily involved at their local Presbyterian church.

"He seemed to be a normal kid, I don't know what triggered it. This makes me very sad," said Tom Mai, a retired electrical engineer, to the Los Angeles Times

Mai added that Holmes' entire family was involved at the church.

At around 6 a.m., Holmes' mother, Arlene, called the San Diego police department and they arrived at the Rancho Penasquitos neighborhood.

Lt. Andra Brown said they were only there to preserve peace - not conduct an investigation.

According to the Los Angeles Times:

Arlene Holmes has identified herself to reporters as the mother of the suspected shooter. Her son went to high school in San Diego and then attended college in Colorado, Brown said. Authorities described him as a loner.

Poway Unified School District in San Diego confirmed that Holmes was a 2006 graduate of Westview High School.

The FBI is assisting in the investigation and said there was no indication that the shooting has any connection to terrorism. 

Police also said there is no evidence of an additional suspect.

Warner Bros. studio released a statement Friday saying they were "deeply saddened to learn about this shocking incident. The studio has canceled the red carpet premier of 'The Dark Knight Rises' in Paris, The Hollywood Reporter said."


Reach Executive Producer Subrina Hudson here; follow her on Twitter here.



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