Evidence shows months of calculation ahead of Colorado shooting: police
By Chris Francescani and Stephanie Simon and Mary Slosson | Reuters – 18 mins ago
AURORA, Colo. (Reuters) – The man accused in a shooting rampage at a Denver-area premiere of the new “Batman” film received a high volume of deliveries in recent months, police said on Saturday, parcels they believe contained ammunition and bomb-making materials and showed evidence of “calculation and deliberation.”
Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates discussed the shipments as local and federal authorities completed the painstaking process of disarming suspect James Holmes‘ apartment, which was found booby-trapped with explosive devices following the shooting massacre at a multiplex theater several miles away.
On Saturday afternoon, the local coroner’s officer released the names of the 12 people killed. The victims ranged in age from 6 to 51. Most were in their 20s.
Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said, “We’ve become aware that the suspect over the last four months received a high volume of deliveries to both his work and home addresses. This begins to explain how he got his hands on all the magazines and ammunition.
“We also think it begins to explain some of the materials he had in his apartment,” Oates said. “What we’re seeing here is evidence of some calculation and deliberation.”
Bomb experts used a remote-controlled robot to enter Holmes’ apartment in Aurora and disabled two trip wires connected to a series of 30 improvised explosives that authorities said would likely have blown up the entire three-story apartment building.
By late Saturday afternoon, police had removed the last of the devices, packed them in sand in a dump truck and drove them away, a law enforcement source familiar with the matter said.
Authorities said they were working carefully to preserve any evidence in the apartment, which could shed light on the motives for a crime that stunned Aurora and much of the nation.
A gunman wearing a full suit of tactical body armor, helmet and gas mask opened fire at a packed midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” early on Friday morning, killing 12 people and wounding 58.
Holmes was arrested minutes later in a parking lot behind the cinema. He was armed with an AR-15 assault rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and a Glock .40-caliber handgun, Oates said. Police found an additional Glock .40-caliber handgun in his car, parked just outside the theater’s rear emergency exit, he said.
Police said Holmes had purchased the weapons legally at three area gun stores in the last 60 days and bought 6,000 rounds of ammunition online, including a 100-round drum magazine for an assault rifle.
Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said Holmes was being held in solitary confinement to protect him from other prisoners, a routine move in high-profile cases.
Holmes, a 24-year-old graduate student who authorities said had dyed his hair red and called himself “the Joker” in a reference to Batman’s comic-book nemesis, was due to make an initial court appearance on Monday.
MEMORIES OF COLUMBINE
Holmes will be represented by James O’Connor, head of the Arapahoe County Public Defender’s Office, Robinson said.
The mass shooting evoked memories of the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, 17 miles from Aurora, where two students opened fire and killed 12 students and a teacher.
It also reverberated in the U.S. presidential race. Both President Barack Obama and his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, toned down their campaigns on Friday, pulled ads from Colorado and dedicated scheduled events to the victims.
Obama was scheduled to travel to Colorado on Sunday to honor the shooting victims, an administration official said.
On Saturday, the president called the shootings a reminder that life is fragile and promised that the federal government stood ready to do all it could to seek justice for the “heinous crime.”
A memorial of flowers, candles and stuffed animals quickly sprung up where the shooting rampage took place. A handwritten sign read: “7/20 gone not forgotten.”
The University of Colorado Hospital, which treated some of the shooting victims, said 10 people had been released and five remained in critical condition.
The Medical Center of Aurora said four of its seven patients remained in the intensive care unit, while three others were on the main trauma floor.
Those who witnessed the shooting told of a horrific scene, with dazed victims bleeding from bullet wounds, spitting up blood and crying for help.
“I slipped on some blood and landed on a lady. I shook her and said, ‘We need to go; get up,’ and there was no response, so I presumed she was dead,” said Tanner Coon, 17.
‘THE WHOLE BUILDING WOULD HAVE BURNED’
After the shooting rampage, police went to Holmes’ apartment, where they found a series of booby traps that prevented them from entering for two days.
Sources familiar with the investigation said that some 30 shells filled with gunpowder were spread through the 800-square-foot apartment and wired to a control box in the kitchen.
There were also at least two containers filled with “incendiary liquids” meant to fuel a fire from the initial explosions, and an undetermined amount of bullets meant to ricochet around the apartment.
“Given the amount of explosives that were there, if they detonated ideally, you would have had a very ample explosion with an ensuing thermal effect from the incendiary liquids that would have destroyed that apartment complex,” a law enforcement official said.
“It’s safe to say that that whole building would have burned,” the official said. “The explosion would have certainly removed the interior walls in the building and some of the exterior walls.”
Local and federal bomb experts used a robot to disable a trip wire, then had the robot place a tube — known as a “water shot” — near the control box, authorities said. The water shot was then detonated to disable the control box.
Police evacuated five buildings nearby and created a perimeter of several blocks around Holmes’ apartment, the top-floor unit of a three-story red brick building in a run-down section of Aurora.
“This apartment was designed to kill whoever entered it,” Oates said.
(Additional reporting by Keith Coffman, Edith Honan and Dan Whitcomb; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Eric Beech and Stacey Joyce)
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