Three days after opening fire in a sold-out Aurora, Colorado, movie theater screening of “The Dark Knight Rises,” suspected shooter James Holmes, 24, is due in court on Monday (July 23) morning. Holmes, accused of killing 12 and injuring 58 in one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history, will appear in court at 9:30 MDT for a hearing where the charges of suspicion of first degree murder will be read.
During a sweep of Holmes’ apartment after officials cleared it of a nest of potentially deadly homemade booby-traps , Fox News reported that investigators found a Batman mask and poster and hauled away a desktop computer.
Aurora police chief Dan Oates told reporters on Sunday that Holmes has “lawyered up,” and has refused to speak to investigators since being apprehended behind the movie theater where the shootings took place and warning officials about his rigged apartment. Holmes is being held in solitary confinement at an Arapahoe County detention facility as he awaits the court date, where he could also face additional counts of aggravated assault and weapons violations.
The local district attorney may announce at the hearing whether she will seek the death penalty in the case. Police are working with FBI behavioral analysts to dig through Holmes’ background and recent actions to determine a motive in the case.
After issuing several statements about the shootings, President Obama traveled to Aurora on Sunday to visit with the families of some of the victims at the University of Colorado Hospital. “Scripture says that, ’He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more. Neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away,'” Obama said after praising the work of local and state officials in their quick response to the incident.
“And when you have an opportunity to visit with families who have lost their loved ones — as I described to them, I come to them not so much as President as I do as a father and as a husband. And I think that the reason stories like this have such an impact on us is because we can all understand what it would be to have somebody that we love taken from us in this fashion — what it would be like and how it would impact us.
“I had a chance to visit with each family, and most of the conversation was filled with memory. It was an opportunity for families to describe how wonderful their brother, or their son, or daughter was, and the lives that they have touched, and the dreams that they held for the future. I confessed to them that words are always inadequate in these kinds of situations, but that my main task was to serve as a representative of the entire country and let them know that we are thinking about them at this moment and will continue to think about them each and every day, and that the awareness that not only all of America but much of the world is thinking about them might serve as some comfort.”
Obama assured the families that Holmes will face the “full force of our justice system” and the focus on him will “fade away” soon as it turns to the victims in the case. He also said he shared hugs with some of the family members and related some of the tales of recovery and bravery by fellow victims who saved lives.
“I hope that over the next several days, next several weeks, and next several months, we all reflect on how we can do something about some of the senseless violence that ends up marring this country, but also reflect on all the wonderful people who make this the greatest country on Earth,” he said.
More details emerged over the weekend about Holmes’ actions before the shooting . In addition to news that Holmes amassed more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition, four weapons and tactical body armor during an online and local shopping spree, the owner of a local shooting range said he rejected an application by the former PhD student last month.
Lead Valley Range owner Glenn Rotkovich, who requires prospective members to attend a mandatory orientation, said he told his staff to turn Holmes away after the alleged shooter left a voice mail described as “bizarre — guttural, freakish at best.”
Holmes reportedly received more than 50 packages over the past several months at his apartment and at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, where he was a PhD candidate in neuroscience before dropping out in June. It’s unclear at this point if Holmes used his position in the graduate program to collect some of the hazardous materials found in his apartment.
Thousands of Aurora residents turned out on Sunday night for a vigil in honor of the victims, which closed out with a prayer and remembrance of those lost and wounded in the attack.
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