AURORA, Colo. – The shooting suspect who went on a deadly rampage inside a Colorado theater planned the attack with “calculation and deliberation,” police said Saturday, receiving deliveries for months that authorities believe armed him for battle and were used to rig his apartment with dozens of bombs.
Authorities on Saturday removed dangerous explosive materials from inside James Holmes’ suburban Denver apartment a day after police said he opened fire and set off gas canisters in a theater minutes into the premiere of the Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises.” The attack left 12 people dead and 58 injured.
His apartment was rigged with jars of liquids, explosives and chemicals that were booby-trapped to kill “whoever entered it,” Aurora police Chief Dan Oates said, noting it would have likely been one of his officers.
All hazards have been removed from Holmes’ apartment and residents in surrounding buildings can return home, police said.
The exception was Holmes’ apartment building, where authorities were still collecting evidence. Inside the apartment, authorities began covering the windows with black plastic to prevent onlookers from seeing in.
Authorities wouldn’t discuss a motive for the deadly mass shooting, as makeshift memorials for the victims sprang up and relatives began to publicly mourn their loved ones.
Holmes recently withdrew from a competitive graduate program in neuroscience at the University of Colorado-Denver, where he was one of six students at the school to get National Institutes of Health grant money. He recently took an intense three-part, oral exam that marks the end of the freshman year of the four-year program there, but university officials would not say if he passed, citing privacy concerns.
In a resume posted on Monster.com, Holmes listed himself as an “aspiring scientist” and said he was looking for a job as a laboratory technician.
The resume, first obtained by the Press-Enterprise in Riverside, paints a picture of a brilliant young man brimming with potential: He worked as a summer intern at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla in 2006 and mapped the neurons of zebra finches and studied the flight muscles of hummingbirds while an undergraduate at the University of California, Riverside. He also worked as a summer camp counselor to underprivileged children at a Jewish camp in Los Angeles in 2008.
Still, neighbors and former classmates in California said although Holmes was whip-smart, he was a loner who said little and was easily forgotten – until this week.
Holmes apparently had prepared the attack at the Aurora theater well in advance, receiving multiple deliveries by mail for four months to his home and school and buying thousands rounds of ammunition on the Internet, Oates said.
“He had a high volume of deliveries,” Oates said. “We think this explains how he got his hands on the magazine, ammunition,” he said, as well as the rigged explosives in his apartment.
“What we’re seeing here is evidence of some calculation and deliberation,” Oates added.
Federal authorities detonated one small explosive and disarmed others inside Holmes’ apartment after sending in a robot to take down a trip wire, FBI Special Agent James Yacone said. Bomb technicians then neutralized what he called a “hypergolic mixture” and an improvised explosive device containing an unknown substance. There also were multiple containers of accelerants, he said.
“It was an extremely dangerous environment,” Yacone said, saying anyone who walked in would have sustained “significant injuries” or been killed.
Holmes, 24, was in solitary confinement for his protection at a county detention facility Saturday, held without bond on suspicion of multiple counts of first-degree murder. He was set for an initial hearing on Monday and had been appointed a public defender, authorities said.
Stories of the victims began to emerge, including that of a 6-year-old girl and a man who died on his 27th birthday and a day before his first wedding anniversary. Another victim, Matt McQuinn, 27, was killed after diving in front of his girlfriend and her older brother to shield them from the gunfire, said his family’s attorney, Rob Scott, of Dayton, Ohio.
Families grieved and waited at hospitals, which reported at least seven of the wounded still in critical condition Saturday and others with injuries that likely are permanent.