|“||I'm the Joker.||„|
|~ James Holmes|
Holmes had been a PhD student at the University of Colorado and was a major in neuroscience, but later dropped out due to poor grades. Previously, he had also worked as a summer camp counselor and at a pill-and-capsule coating factory.
He first threw tear gas into the crowd of moviegoers and continued to open fire upon them. He was carrying three types of firearms with him: a Remington Model 870 shotgun, a Smith & Wesson semi-automatic rifle, and a .40 Glock 22 handgun. According to witnesses, he appeared to be wearing a costume, like other audience members who had dressed up for the screening. Some believed he was playing a prank, while others thought he was part of a special effects installation setup for the film's premiere or a publicity stunt by the studio or theater management.
In total, Holmes fired 76 shots: six from the shotgun, 65 from the semi-automatic rifle, and five from the .40-caliber handgun.
When arrested, he was wearing a full-body bullet proof vest, riot helmet, and gas mask. After being arrested, he warned the police he had rigged his room with booby-traps. Initially, he entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, which was accepted. He would not go to trial until April of 2015.
When he finally went to trial Holmes was found guilty of 24 counts of first degree murder, 116 counts of attempted first degree murder and one count of illegal possession of explosives. He was subsequently sentenced to twelve life imprisonment sentences without parole and a maximum 3,318 additional years on attempted murder and explosives possession convictions. He is currently incarcerated at USP Allenwood in Gregg Township, Union County, Pennsylvania.
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- In Colorado, a death penalty decision has to be one hundred percent agreement from the jurors. In James' case, only one juror voted against giving him the death penalty.
- Holmes was a fan of superheroes, including Batman, and his apartment was even decorated with Batman paraphernalia. Dave Aragón, an actor from the MTV television series Pimp My Ride, stated that Holmes called him twice the month before the shooting took place. Aragón is the writer, director, and star of an upcoming film entitled The Suffocator of Sins, which depicts a vigilante who shoots criminals, and Aragón claimed that Holmes showed interest in his movie's trailer.
- On July 19, just hours before the shooting started, Holmes mailed a notebook to his psychiatrist. The notebook detailed his thoughts and plans during the weeks preceding the shooting. The notebook was found in an undelivered package in the Anschutz Medical Campus mail-room. Immediately prior to the shooting, Holmes reportedly called a crisis hotline for mental health with the hopes that someone would talk him out of committing the massacre at the last minute. However, the call was disconnected after nine seconds.
- According to Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, Holmes chose the Century 16 theater for his attack because he liked movie theaters and the specific theater had doors that he could lock in order to increase the number of casualties, as well as being in an area where police response would take longer. He specifically chose to attack a midnight screening because he believed fewer children would be present, not wanting to kill them. Holmes allegedly considered other locations for a mass shooting, such as an airport, but ruled it out because an airport would have too much security. He also wrote his reasoning that an attack on an airport would be confused as an act of terrorism, saying, "Terrorism isn't the message. The message is, there is no message." In addition, he had been considering using explosives, chemical agents, or biological agents in his attack, but rejected the scenario as he thought he might "blow himself up". Holmes had also considered serial killing as an option, but later reasoned it was "too personal, too much evidence, easily caught, few kills.
- The jury for Holmes' trial consisted of nineteen women and five men, two of whom had connections to the Columbine massacre.
- During a presentation at a science camp he went to in 2006, he said he wanted to own a slurpee machine