Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 5 August 2015

Colorado gun club shunned 'freakish' Batman shooting suspect Holmes

Police piece together detailed planning as President flies in to meet victims' families

By Stephen Foley in Aurora, Colorado

Published 23/07/2012 | 04:54

Mass shooting suspect James Holmes is due to make an initial court appearance (AP/University of Colorado)
Mass shooting suspect James Holmes is due to make an initial court appearance (AP/University of Colorado)
Family members react as the names of the 12 victims of the mass shooting at Century 16 movie theater are read aloud during a prayer vigil at the Aurora Municipal Center July 22, 2012
AURORA, CO - JULY 22: Thousands of people gather for a prayer vigil for the victims of Friday's movie theater mass shooting at the Aurora Municipal Center July 22, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado. Suspect James Holmes, 24, allegedly went on a shooting spree and killed 12 people and injured 59 during an early morning screening of 'The Dark Knight Rises.' (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
AURORA, CO - JULY 22: Mourners attend a vigil for the victims of the mass shooting at Century 16 movie theater at the Aurora Municipal Center on July 22, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado. Suspect James Holmes, 24, allegedly went on a shooting spree and killed 12 people and injured 59 during an early morning screening of 'The Dark Knight Rises.' (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
AURORA, CO - JULY 22: Members of Firing-Line fire their weapons at the gun range July 22, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado. Firing-Line is located not far from where suspect gunman James Eagan Holmes, 24, is accused of killing 12 people at a screening of the new "Batman" film last Friday. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
AURORA, CO - JULY 22: Rifles are displayed at Firing-Line July 22, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado. Firing-Line is located not far from where suspect gunman James Eagan Holmes, 24, is accused of killing 12 people at a screening of the new "Batman" film last Friday. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
AURORA, CO - JULY 22: A target sheet hangs in the shooting range at Firing-Line prepares to fire his weapon at the gun range July 22, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado. Firing-Line is located not far from where suspect gunman James Eagan Holmes, 24, is accused of killing 12 people at a screening of the new "Batman" film last Friday. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
AURORA, CO - JULY 22: A member of Firing-Line prepares fires his weapon at the gun range July 22, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado. Firing-Line is located not far from where suspect gunman James Eagan Holmes, 24, is accused of killing 12 people at a screening of the new "Batman" film last Friday. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
AURORA, CO - JULY 22: A Bush Master AR15 assault rifle is displayed at Firing-Line July 22, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado. Firing-Line is located not far from where suspect gunman James Eagan Holmes, 24, is accused of killing 12 people at a screening of the new "Batman" film last Friday. The firearm is similar to the one used in the rampage. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
AURORA, CO - JULY 22: A customer holds a Smith & Wesson pistol at Firing-Line July 22, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado. Firing-Line is located not far from where suspect gunman James Eagan Holmes, 24, is accused of killing 12 people at a screening of the new "Batman" film last Friday. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
AURORA, CO - JULY 22: Hand guns are displayed at Firing-Line July 22, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado. Firing-Line is located not far from where suspect gunman James Eagan Holmes, 24, is accused of killing 12 people at a screening of the new "Batman" film last Friday. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
AURORA, CO - JULY 22: A Bush Master AR15 assault rifle is displayed at Firing-Line July 22, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado. Firing-Line is located not far from where suspect gunman James Eagan Holmes, 24, is accused of killing 12 people at a screening of the new "Batman" film last Friday. The firearm is similar to the one used in the rampage. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
AURORA, CO - JULY 22: A member of Firing-Line prepares fires his weapon at the gun range July 22, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado. Firing-Line is located not far from where suspect gunman James Eagan Holmes, 24, is accused of killing 12 people at a screening of the new "Batman" film last Friday. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
AURORA, CO - JULY 22: Parishioners pray during morning mass remembering victims of the theater shooting at the Queen of Peace Catholic Church on July 22, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado. Suspect James Holmes, 24, allegedly went on a shooting spree and killed 12 people and injured 59 during an early morning screening of 'The Dark Knight Rises.' (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
AURORA, CO - JULY 22: Greg Zanis of Aurora, Illinois, places crosses he made for a makeshift memorial to the victims of last weekend's mass shooting at the Century 16 movie theater July 22, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado. A carpenter by trade, Zanis made the twelve white crosses that were placed near Columbine High School after a mass shooting there in 1999. Zanis said he made these crosses as fast as possible and drove all night across the country to place them across the street from the theater. Police in Aurora, a suburb of Denver, say they have James Holmes, 24, in custody after he killed 12 people and injured 59 during a midnight screening of 'The Dark Knight Rises' last Friday. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
AURORA, CO - JULY 21: Sisters hug at a makeshift memorial across the street from the Century 16 movie theater the day after a gunman killed 12 people and injured 59 during an early morning screening of 'The Dark Knight Rises,' July 21, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado. Police in Aurora, a suburb of Denver, say they have the suspect James Holmes, 24, in custody. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
AURORA, CO - JULY 22: Family members react as the names of the 12 victims of the mass shooting at Century 16 movie theater are read aloud during a prayer vigil at the Aurora Municipal Center July 22, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado. Suspect James Holmes, allegedly went on a shooting spree and killed 12 people and injured 59 during an early morning screening of 'The Dark Knight Rises.' (Photo by Aaron Ontiveroz-Pool/Denver Post via Getty Images)
AURORA, CO - JULY 22: Family members listen as the names of the 12 victims of the mass shooting at Century 16 movie theater are read aloud during a prayer vigil at the Aurora Municipal Center July 22, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado. Suspect James Holmes, allegedly went on a shooting spree and killed 12 people and injured 59 during an early morning screening of 'The Dark Knight Rises.' (Photo by Aaron Ontiveroz-Pool/Denver Post via Getty Images)
AURORA, CO - JULY 22: People pray and mourn during a memorial for the victims that were killed and wounded during the mass shooting at a movie theater last Friday, outside the Aurora Municipal Center July 22, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado. James Eagan Holmes, 24, is accused of killing 12 people at a screening of the new "Batman" film. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
AURORA, CO - JULY 22: Thousands of people gather for a prayer vigil for the victims of Friday's movie theater mass shooting at the Aurora Municipal Center July 22, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado. Suspect James Holmes, 24, allegedly went on a shooting spree and killed 12 people and injured 59 during an early morning screening of 'The Dark Knight Rises.' (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama speaks at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, Colorado (AP/Susan Walsh)
An FBI agent can be seen through the broken window of the apartment of shooting suspect James Holmes in Aurora, Colorado (AP/Ed Andrieski)
The Century 16 cinema in Aurora, Colorado where a gunman killed at least 12 people and wounded dozens of others (AP/Ted S Warren)
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)
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)
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)

James Eagan Holmes, the man suspected of shooting dead 12 people in a cinema in a Denver suburb, applied to join a local gun range last month, but the "freakish" greeting on his voicemail made the club owner decide to turn him away.



The revelation will help police trying to piece together the detailed planning that went into the massacre and into the preparation of a booby-trap bomb at the suspect's apartment that was designed to cause a second scene of mayhem.



Holmes himself has "lawyered up" and is not co-operating with the authorities, the local police chief said last night, as President Barack Obama swept into Aurora to meet with victims and their families and offer words of condolence to a grieving town.



Holmes emailed an application to join the Lead Valley Range in Byers on 25 June, according to the club owner Glenn Rotkovich. When Mr Rotkovich called to invite him to a mandatory orientation the following week, he said he heard a message on Holmes's voicemail that was "bizarre – guttural, freakish at best". After leaving two other messages, he eventually told his staff to watch out for Holmes at the orientation and not to accept him into the club.



Meanwhile, the 24-year-old may have used his position as a researcher at the University of Colorado to order the equipment for a bomb, it has emerged.



The university said it was investigating what might have been in packages that were sent to Holmes at the neuroscience research lab at its medical school. Holmes was in the process of dropping out of the PhD programme when he is alleged to have gone on the worst gun rampage in US history, in terms of numbers killed or injured. Aurora police said that Holmes received 50 commercial packages at his home and school addresses in the four months leading up to his rampage – "evidence of a deliberative process to commit this assault and a deliberative process to attack whoever walked through the door of that apartment", Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates said.



Holmes is due to make his first court appearance this morning. He is being held in solitary confinement at a Denver-area county detention facility.



A CV posted online shows Holmes had mapped the neurons of Zebra finches and studied the flight muscles of hummingbirds while an undergraduate at the University of California, Riverside. But neighbours and former classmates in California said although he was smart, he was a loner who said little and was easily forgotten. It is not clear why he was withdrawing from his PhD programme, or whether he had passed an intense oral exam to mark the end of the first year.



Mr Obama spent the afternoon in Aurora for private meetings with families of the dead and survivors, and with local officials and emergency service workers. The community was also planning to come together for a memorial service and vigil near the site of the massacre.



The heartbreaking stories of the dead and injured range from the mother who spent days fighting for her life in hospital, then to be told that her six-year-old was killed in the cinema, to the workers of a nearby restaurant, which had eight of their number injured at the screening – one of them fatally. The full list of the victims was published late on Sunday, their ages ranging from six to 51.



The gun-range owner told his staff to watch out for Holmes and not accept his application to join the club

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