Who is Colorado shooting suspect James Holmes?
Published Friday, July 20, 2012 5:19PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, July 21, 2012 1:53PM EDT
A portrait is beginning to emerge of the man arrested on suspicion of carrying out Friday’s shooting in Colorado that killed 12 people and injured 58 others.
The mass shooting took place during the midnight screening of the new Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colorado, about 16 kilometres outside of Denver.
Police said at about 12:30 a.m. the lone gunman released some sort of gas in the theatre before firing into the crowd.
Shortly after the shooting, police arrested 24-year-old James Holmes outside the theatre.
He did not resist arrest, police said.
It quickly emerged that Holmes struggled to find work after graduating with highest honours in spring 2010 with a neuroscience degree from the University of California, Riverside, said retired electrical engineer Tom Mai, who is a neighbour of the Holmes family in San Diego.
Holmes went on to enroll in the neuroscience PhD program at the University of Colorado-Denver however he was in the process of withdrawing.
According to a course schedule, Holmes was slated to give a presentation on MicroRNA biomarkers for a class on psychiatric and neurological disorderson May 8.
In academic achievement, "he was at the top of the top," Riverside Chancellor Timothy P. White told The Associated Press.
Holmes concentrated his study on "how we all behave," White added. "It's ironic and sad."
Reporter John Vennavally-Rao told CTV News Channel that “despite early characterizations by the media that Holmes was a loner and misfit -- a deranged character -- some people are now saying ‘No, no, he was shy and quiet and he was super smart.’ This was not the kind of thing they ever imagined he could have done.”
Holmes is a 24-year-old in the Twitter age, however, he does not seem to have been in the habit of posting public updates about himself. He does not appear to have any current social media accounts.
So far, little is known about what was happening in the young man’s mind over the last two months when he withdrew from school and purchased guns and bullets.
Jackie Mitchell, a furniture mover who lives several blocks from the suspect's apartment building in Colorado, told The Associated Press he had drinks with Holmes at a bar on Tuesday night, though he showed no sign of distress or violence.
After Holmes approached him, "we just talked about football. He had a backpack and geeky glasses and seemed like a real intelligent guy, and I figured he was one of the college students," Mitchell said.
The Denver Post reports that Holmes lived in an apartment not far from the movie theatre. According to the paper, public records show that Holmes lived with two roommates from California.
Holmes described himself as "quiet and easy-going” on the rental application form he filled out last year, The Post reports.
A search of Holmes’ apartment revealed sophisticated booby traps and explosives, which police said could take several days to dismantle.
A building resident, who identified himself only as Ben, told The Post he called 911 around 12:30 a.m. Friday due to loud music coming from Holmes’ apartment. The student also said Holmes was a loner who would not even greet people in the hallways.
"No one knew him. No one," he told The Post.
Police say Holmes was born on Dec. 13, 1987.
A statement by the Poway Unified School District on Friday confirmed that he graduated in 2006 from Westview High School in San Diego.
When he attended the University of California, Riverside, he lived in a school dormitory.
A student who lived across from him at the time said Holmes completed the honours program and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Golden Key honor societies.
"I had tons of classes with him and lived across him in the Honors dorms. He was a very smart guy though. He was a little bit of a weird guy, but we were honors students, so weird people were kind of common," the student, who wished to remain anonymous, told NBC News.
Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said the only offence on Holmes’ record was a speeding ticket.
So far police are not speculating on a motive for the attack, and the FBI said there is no apparent terrorist link.
Oates also said police are confident the suspect acted alone.
New York City, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said: "It clearly looks like a deranged individual. He has his hair painted red. He said he was the Joker, obviously the enemy of Batman,” The AP reports.
Oates declined to confirm the Batman reference, but he confirmed he had spoken to Kelly, with whom he used to work in New York.
Holmes’ family on Friday released a statement that said, "Our hearts go out to those who were involved in this tragedy and to the family and friends of those involved. Our family is co-operating with authorities in San Diego, California, and Aurora, Colorado. We are still trying to process this information and we appreciate that people will respect our privacy."
Reporter Brian Ross told CTV News Channel that Holmes’ father Robert has left his home in a prosperous San Diego community for Denver, presumably to visit his son in jail.
Holmes has asked for a lawyer and so far he has not answered questions from police about the shooting.
Holmes’ mother stayed at home and was receiving visitors coming to offer support.