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What Do We Know About The Theater Shooting Suspect?

University of Colorado Denver

Early this morning, at a screening of the new Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises a gunman opened fire, striking 71 and killing 12. More details are starting to emerge about the background of suspected shooter James Holmes.

James Holmes, 24, graduated from the University of California, Riverside with a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience in 2010. He earned highest honors. More recently, he had been working toward a graduate degree in the same field at the University of Colorado medical school in Aurora until last month.

According to university officials, Holmes was in the process of withdrawing from that program. His family who lives in San Diego sent a statement to police saying they’re fully cooperating with authorities in California and Colorado during their investigation.

The family is asking for respect for their privacy as well as that of the rest of the neighborhood at this point. There’s quite a crowd out here and quite a bit of activity and disturbance that could potentially be caused by the neighborhood here. So we’re asking that all of the members of the media respect the privacy not only of the family but of the entire neighborhood.

In Aurora, Holmes lived just a couple of miles north of the movie theater where the shootings took place, and just a couple of blocks away from the University of Colorado Hospital and its sprawling Anschutz medical school campus.


The diverse neighborhood where Holmes lives is a mix of low-income houses and weathered brick, apartment buildings – five of which were evacuated as authorities cordoned off almost two-blocks amid concerns about explosives in his apartment.

The city of Aurora’s Police Chief Daniel Oates described Holmes’ booby trap almost like a scene out of a movie; trip wires across the floor and plastic bottles with a liquid substance scattered about. "And we are trying to determine how to disarm the flammable or explosive material that’s in there, so that’s why we’re here, we could be here for hours, we could be here for days."

Many of Holmes’ neighbors who stood behind police barricades say they’d never seen or heard of him. And the Denver Post has learned that in a rental application he submitted last year, Holmes described himself as a student who was quote – quiet and easy going.

One of Holmes’ neighbors is Carolyn Young. She was evacuated from her apartment early this morning. “This is scary, like how long has he been there? What was he doing? What kind of material did they find?

She still hasn’t been allowed back in. It’s unclear when residents will be allowed back in to their apartments. This afternoon police were sending a bomb defusing robot into Holmes’ apartment. Authorities are also concerned about the chemicals he had in his apartment and any health threats they may pose.

Kirk Siegler reports for NPR, based out of NPR West in California.
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