Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Batman killer a 'loner' medical student who left his nearby flat booby-trapped

James Holmes was a former neuroscience PhD student at University of Colorado-Denver
James Holmes was a former neuroscience PhD student at University of Colorado-Denver
AURORA, CO - JULY 20: A Popcorn box lies on the ground outside Century 16 movie theatre where a gunmen attacked movie goers during an early morning screening of the new Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises" July 20, 2012 in Aurora, outside of Denver, Colorado. According to reports, 12 people have been killed and at least 59 wounded when James Holmes allegedly opened fire inside the a movie theater showing the "The Dark Knight Rises." Police have James, 24, of Holmes of North Aurora, in custody. (Photo by Thomas Cooper/Getty Images)
AURORA, CO - JULY 20: A mourner grieves at a memorial service July 20, 2012 in Aurora, outside of Denver, Colorado. According to reports, 12 people were killed and 59 wounded when James Holmes allegedly opened fire inside a movie theater showing the "The Dark Knight Rises." Police have Holmes 24, of North Aurora, in custody. (Photo by Thomas Cooper/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - JULY 20: A makeshift memorial is shown behind the Century 16 movie theatre where a gunmen attacked movie goers during an early morning screening of the new Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises" on July 20, 2012 in Aurora, outside of Denver, Colorado. According to reports, 12 people were killed and 59 wounded when James Holmes allegedly opened fire inside the theater. Police have Holmes 24, of North Aurora, in custody. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - JULY 20: People pray at a makeshift memorial during a vigil for victims of the Century 16 movie theatre where a gunmen attacked movie goers during an early morning screening of the new Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises" on July 20, 2012 in Aurora, outside of Denver, Colorado. According to reports, 12 people were killed and 59 wounded when James Holmes allegedly opened fire inside the theater. Police have Holmes 24, of North Aurora, in custody. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
AURORA, CO - JULY 20: People hug during a vigil for victims at the Century 16 movie theatre where a gunmen attacked movie goers during an early morning screening of the new Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises" on July 20, 2012 in Aurora, outside of Denver, Colorado. According to reports, 12 people were killed and 59 wounded when James Holmes allegedly opened fire inside the theater. Police have Holmes 24, of North Aurora, in custody. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
AURORA, CO - JULY 20: Marietta Perkins prays during a vigil for victims at the Century 16 movie theatre where a gunmen attacked movie goers during an early morning screening of the new Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises" on July 20, 2012 in Aurora, outside of Denver, Colorado. According to reports, 12 people were killed and 59 wounded when James Holmes allegedly opened fire inside the theater. Police have Holmes 24, of North Aurora, in custody. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
AURORA, CO - JULY 20: Alexis Davis hugs Nick Vanderbaan at a memorial service July 20, 2012 in Aurora, outside of Denver, Colorado. According to reports, 12 people were killed and 59 wounded when James Holmes allegedly opened fire inside a movie theater showing the "The Dark Knight Rises." Police have Holmes 24, of North Aurora, in custody. (Photo by Thomas Cooper/Getty Images)
AURORA, CO - JULY 20: Melissa Clark and Nathan Mendonca hug during memorial service July 20, 2012 in Aurora, outside of Denver, Colorado. According to reports, 12 people were killed and 59 wounded when James Holmes allegedly opened fire inside a movie theater showing the "The Dark Knight Rises." Police have Holmes 24, of North Aurora, in custody. (Photo by Thomas Cooper/Getty Images)
AURORA, CO - JULY 20: Memebers of the Aurora Police Dept. SWAT walk near the apartment of of James Holmes, the suspect of a shooting in a movie theater July 20, 2012 in Aurora, outside of Denver, Colorado. According to reports, 12 people have been killed and at least 59 wounded when James allegedly opened fire inside the a movie theater showing the "The Dark Knight Rises." Police have James, 24, of Holmes of North Aurora, in custody. (Photo by Thomas Cooper/Getty Images)
AURORA, CO - JULY 20: Police break the window of the apartment of of James Holmes, the suspect of a shooting in a movie theater July 20, 2012 in Aurora, outside of Denver, Colorado. According to reports, 12 people have been killed and 59 wounded when James allegedly opened fire inside the a movie theater showing the "The Dark Knight Rises." Police have James, 24, of Holmes of North Aurora, in custody. (Photo by Thomas Cooper/Getty Images)
AURORA, CO - JULY 20: A woman holds a candle at a makeshift memorial for victims of the Century 16 movie theatre where a gunmen attacked movie goers during an early morning screening of the new Batman movie 'The Dark Knight Rises' on July 20, 2012 in Aurora, outside of Denver, Colorado. According to reports, 12 people were killed and 59 wounded when James Holmes allegedly opened fire inside the theater. Police have Holmes 24, of North Aurora, in custody (Photo by Thomas Cooper/Getty Images)
Jacob Stevens, 18, hugs his mother Tammi Stevens after being interviewed by police outside Gateway High School where witnesses were brought for questioning after a shooting at a movie theater, Friday, July 20, 2012 in Denver.
Police gather near an apartment house where the suspect in a shooting at a movie theatre lived in Aurora, Colo., Friday, July 20, 2012.
People gather outside the Century 16 movie theatre in Aurora, Colo., at the scene of a mass shooting early Friday morning, July 20, 2012.
An Aurora Police officer talks on his radio outside of the Century 16 theater at Aurora Mall where as many as 14 people were killed and many injured at a shooting at the Century 16 movie theatre in Aurora, Colo., Friday, July 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)
A SWAT team officer stands watch near an apartment house where the suspect in a shooting at a movie theatre lived in Aurora, Colo., Friday, July 20, 2012. As many as 14 people were killed and 50 injured at a shooting at the Century 16 movie theatre early Friday during the showing of the latest Batman movie. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

James Holmes described himself as “a quiet and easy-going medical student” on the application form he filled out last May before renting a third-floor apartment in a brick-walled building a stone's throw from the University of Colorado's sprawling hospital campus.

Muscular and tall– he measured 6ft 3in – Mr Holmes nonetheless cut an unremarkable figure to neighbours, who largely described him as a "loner". He had moved to Denver from his native San Diego, where he grew up and went to high school, to study for a PHD in neuroscience.



Kaitlyn Fonzi, who rents the flat directly beneath Holmes, told The Independent that she'd never sought to engage with him. But that changed at the stroke of midnight on Thursday, when a stereo in his apartment began playing techno music at high volume, on what sounded like a constant loop.



Ms Fonzi went upstairs to complain, but got no reply when she knocked. "The door looked like it was unlocked but something stopped me from going in," she said.



At exactly 1am, the loud music stopped suddenly, as if it had been on a timer. Almost two hours later, Ms Fonzi discovered that she'd almost certainly had a lucky escape. A police Swat team descended on the building to evacuate residents after being told that the flat had been booby trapped.



Officers peering in its window from a crane spotted "buckets of ammunition" and "some kind of chemical" in the kitchen, beneath a poster of the actor Will Ferrell from the film Anchorman, which was visible on the kitchen wall.



Ms Fonzi, an immunology researcher at the university medical centre, was last night still dressed in her pyjamas. She said entering the upstairs room might have triggered one of the trip wires or pressure pads that were reportedly installed there.



Police said Mr Holmes had neither a criminal record nor ties to terrorist organisations, though his life was believed to be in a state of flux.

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