Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

James Holmes copycat panic grips US Batman movie theatres - three people arrested

Photo combination shows a variety of facial expressions of James E. Holmes during his appearance at Arapahoe County District Court Monday, July 23, 2012, in Centennial, Colo.
Photo combination shows a variety of facial expressions of James E. Holmes during his appearance at Arapahoe County District Court Monday, July 23, 2012, in Centennial, Colo.
James Holmes has dyed his hair a shocking shade of orange (AP/Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office)
James Holmes appears in court with dyed hair, sitting next to his lawyer (AP)
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)

At least three people have been arrested at US showings of the new Batman film amid audience fears following the Colorado cinema massacre.

All were accused of making threats during or after watching the film in separate incidents.

Moviegoers in Sierra Visa, Arizona, panicked when a man who appeared drunk was confronted during a showing of the movie. The Cochise County Sheriff's office said it caused "mass hysteria" and about 50 people fled the cinema.

Michael Borboa, 27, was arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct, and threatening and intimidating.

A Maine man was arrested when he told authorities that he was on his way to shoot a former employer a day after watching "The Dark Knight Rises," state police said.

Timothy Courtois had been stopped for speeding, and a police search of his car found an AK-47 assault weapon, four handguns, ammunition and news clippings about the mass shooting that left 12 people dead early Friday.

In Southern California, a man at an afternoon showing of the film was arrested after witnesses said he made threats and alluded to the Colorado shooting when the show did not start on time.

Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies were called to the cinema complex said 52-year-old Clark Tabor shouted: "I should go off like in Colorado." They said he then asked: "Does anybody have a gun?"

A security guard saw Tabor with a backpack on his knees in the second row, but deputies who searched the bag, the theatre and its surrounding area did not find a weapon.

Despite some jitters over the horrific shooting, moviegoers around the US still flocked to theatres to see the film, which was the final instalment of the phenomenally successful Batman trilogy.

Warner Bros. reported that it brought in 160.9 million dollars (£104 million) over the weekend, making it the third highest opening weekend ever, after "The Avengers" and "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2."

Holmes shuffled into court today with his hands cuffed - the first look the world got of the 24-year-old since last Friday's shooting that left 12 people dead and 58 others injured at a packed midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises.

It was one of the worst mass shootings in recent US history.

Unshaven and appearing dazed, Holmes sat virtually motionless during the hearing, his eyes drooping as the judge advised him of the severity of the case. At one point, Holmes simply closed his eyes. Prosecutors said they did not know if he was being medicated.

Throughout the hearing, he never said a word. His lawyers did all the talking when the judge asked him if he understood his rights.

His demeanour, however, angered the relatives of some of the victims of the shooting. Some stared at him the entire hearing, including Tom Teves, whose son, Alex, was killed in the attack. Mr Teves watched Holmes intently, sizing him up.

"I saw the coward in court today and Alex could have wiped the floor with him without breaking a sweat," said Mr Teves, whose son, a physical therapist, dove to protect his girlfriend.

The court appearance gave millions the chance to scrutinise Holmes's every movement, every flutter of his heavy eyelids and form their opinions.

"It struck me that this is a person who's been through an emotional maelstrom and therefore might be totally wiped out emotionally," said Dr Jeffrey Gardere, an assistant professor of behavioural medicine at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York.

Dr Gardere said there could be "a psychotic process going on and we see that being acted out there. Or there might be some sort of malingering going on. In other words, trying to make himself look worse than he actually is. Or maybe a combination of all of those things."



The hearing was the first confirmation that Holmes's hair was coloured. On Friday, there were reports of his hair being red and that he told arresting officers that he was The Joker - Batman's nemesis in the fictional Gotham has brightly-coloured hair.

Investigators found a Batman mask inside his apartment after they finished clearing it of booby traps, a law enforcement official close to the investigation said on Sunday.

Holmes, whom police say donned body armour and was armed with an assault rifle, a shotgun and handguns during the attack, was arrested shortly afterwards.

He is refusing to co-operate, authorities said. They said it could take months to identify a motive.

Holmes, who is being held in isolation at the Arapahoe County detention facility, walked into the courtroom with lawyers and others. He sat down in a jury box, next to one of his lawyers.

His entrance was barely noticeable but relatives of shooting victims leaned forward in their seats to catch their first glimpse of him. Two women held hands tightly, one shook her head. One woman's eyes welled up with tears.

After the hearing, prosecutor Carol Chambers said that "at this point, everyone is interested in a fair trial with a just outcome for everybody involved".

Ms Chambers said earlier her office is considering pursuing the death penalty against Holmes.

She added a decision will be made in consultation with the victims' families.

Her office is responsible for the convictions of two of the three people on Colorado's death row.

Ms Chambers also is the only state district lawyer to seek the death penalty in a case in the last five years, said Michael Radelet, a sociology professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder who tracks death penalty cases.

Yet Colorado uses the death penalty relatively sparingly. There has only been one execution since it was reinstated by the US Supreme Court in 1976. The state legislature fell one vote short of abolishing the death penalty in 2009.

David Sanchez, who waited outside the courthouse during Holmes' hearing, said his pregnant daughter escaped uninjured but her husband was shot in the head and was in critical condition. His daughter was scheduled to give birth yesterday.

"When it's your own daughter and she escaped death by mere seconds, I want to say it makes you angry," Mr Sanchez said. He said his daughter, 21-year-old Katie Medley, and her husband, Caleb, 23, had been waiting for a year to watch the movie.

Asked what punishment Holmes should get if he is convicted, Sanchez said: "I think death is."

At a news conference in San Diego, where Holmes's family lives, their lawyer, Lisa Damiani, refused to answer questions about him and his relationship to the family. She said later: "Everyone's concerned" about the possibility of the death penalty.

Ms Damiani said the suspect's mother had no idea her son was believed to be the gunman who killed a dozen people in a Colorado cinema until she was contacted at her San Diego home by a reporter.

Ms Damiani, reading a statement to reporters from the family, quoted his mother, Arlene Holmes, as saying she first heard of the shooting hours after it occurred, when a reporter for ABC News called her.

When asked if they stood by Holmes, Damiani said, "Yes they do. He's their son."

Holmes is expected to be formally charged next Monday. Holmes is being held on suspicion of first-degree murder, and he could also face additional counts of aggravated assault and weapons violations. Holmes has been assigned a public defender.

Police have said Holmes began buying guns at Denver-area stores nearly two months before Friday's shooting and that he received at least 50 packages in four months.

During a news conference in Philadelphia yesterday, US Attorney General Eric Holder said the government has to think about the issues raised by Holmes's alleged arsenal.

"We have tried to come up with a better system with our instant background checks so that we have the ability to make sure that people who have emotional problems, people who have felony records, other people cannot get access to these kinds of weapons," Mr Holder said.

Holmes's apartment was filled with trip wires, explosive devices and unknown liquids, requiring police, FBI officials and bomb squad technicians to evacuate surrounding buildings while spending most of Saturday disabling the booby traps.

Weeks before, Holmes quit a 35-student PhD course in neuroscience for reasons that are not clear. He had earlier taken an intense oral exam that marks the end of the first year but University of Colorado Denver officials would not say if he passed, citing privacy concerns.

At a news conference, university officials refused to answer questions about Holmes. "To the best of our knowledge at this point, we think we did everything that we should have done," said Donald Elliman, the university chancellor.

Officials also said the school received two suspicious packages yesterday. The first package arrived early in the morning and was slipped under the door at a campus building while it was mostly empty. People were not allowed into the building until the threat was cleared.

The second package was addressed to a person in a separate building and came to the school's central post facility.

Also in June, the owner of a gun range in Byers rejected Holmes's membership application of a "bizarre - guttural, freakish" message on Holmes's voicemail.

As authorities continued to investigate Holmes, Sunday was a day for healing and remembrance in Aurora, with the community holding a prayer vigil and President Barack Obama telling victims' families that "all of America and much of the world is thinking about them".

The shooting was the worst in the US since the November 5 2009 attack at Fort Hood, Texas. An army psychiatrist was charged with killing 13 soldiers and civilians and wounding more than two dozen others.



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