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Latest updates: Photos, videos and a timeline of the theater attack and the police response. »


“OUR HEARTS ARE BROKEN” THE VICTIMS On his birthday, Alex Sullivan was one of 12 killed; 58 were injured

THE SUSPECT James Holmes allegedly threw tear gas, then fired on the movie audience By Jennifer Brown, Joey Bunch, Jordan Steffen and Eric Gorski The Denver Post

Tom Sullivan embraces his wife, Terry, left, and daughter Megan outside Gateway High School in Aurora on Friday. At the time, the family hadn’t heard any news about the fate of son Alex, who was at the movie theater where dozens of people were shot during a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.” Friday night, the family learned that Alex, who turned 27 that day, was one of the 12 who died. RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post


Anguish among family, friends of the dead, missing runs deep

Jessica Ghawi was an up-andcoming sportscaster who loved hockey.

The scene. Witnesses describe terror. »2A

Chuck Murphy.

By Karen Augé The Denver Post

Tragic reminder of a big problem. »6A

Jessica Ghawi grew up a hockey fan in football-crazed Texas. The 24-year-old followed that passion to Colorado to forge a career in sports journalism. It probably took her to Toronto, where she walked out of a shopping-mall food court moments before a gunman shot seven people. Writing as Jessica Redfield in a June 5 blog entry, she described how the experience reminded her “how blessed I am for each second I am given.” Early Friday in Aurora, Ghawi did not escape the gunfire. She was among the 12 people killed when James Eagan Holmes allegedly opened fire at a midnight showing of the latest Batman film, “The Dark Knight Rises.

911 dispatch.


Recordings reveal the chaos. »7A

Woody Paige. The reaction throughout Colorado, and the nation was: Oh, no, not again. »8A

aurora» A gunman slipped into a midnight premiere of the new Batman movie through an emergency exit early Friday, tossed two hissing gas canisters and then methodically, calmly walked up the aisle firing, killing 12 people and wounding 58. It was among the worst mass shootings in American history. Terrorized moviegoers, some dragging bloodied bodies, spilled out of the Century Aurora 16 complex at Aurora Town Center trying to escape shortly after 12:30 a.m. Coloradans woke up Friday to news of the tragedy, an eerie echo of a similar massacre 13 years ago in a different Denver suburb, at Columbine High School. Once again, a mass shooting in Colorado was recounted around the world. “Our hearts are broken,” Gov. John Hickenlooper said. “It is beyond the power of words to fully express our sorrow this morning. Coloradans have a remarkable ability to support one another in times of crisis. This is one of those times.” President Barack Obama spoke from Florida, saying he instantly thought about his daughters going to the movies. “We never understand what leads someone to terrorize their fellow human beings like this,” Obama said. “Life is very fragile, and it is precious.” James Eagan Holmes, 24, bought a ticket to the show, “The Dark Knight Rises,” then left theater 9, propping the emergency exit open for his return, investigators said. About 15 minutes into the film, he appeared beside the screen with three guns, dressed in black and wearing a ballistic helmet, gas mask and body shields. Holmes surrendered to authorities, who found his north Aurora apartment SHOOTING » 3A


A quiet man who authorities say harbored a deadly plan By Sara Burnett, Jessica Fender, Felisa Cardona and Jeremy P. Meyer The Denver Post

aurora» James Eagan Holmes — now the subject of global headlines — was never one to draw attention to himself. In interviews with people who have known him throughout his life, Holmes was described as a quiet and intelligent person who wouldn’t even acknowledge neighbors in his apartment hallway.

INS I D E Business » 17-21A | Comics » 7-9C | Lottery » 2A | Markets » 18A | Movies » 4C | Obituaries » 27A | Puzzles » 7-8C

Holmes, 24, maintained that quiet demeanor even as police say he was plotting a horrific attack that killed 12 people and injured 58 others in an Aurora movie theater early Friday. He bought four guns and 6,000 rounds of ammunition, Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said. He rigged his apartment with what authorities fear are deadly explosives and blared techno music from his stereo in what’s believed to be an attempt to invite more devastation when the door was opened. SUSPECT » 4A


saturday, july 21, 2012 B B the denver post



What first seemed part of show turned to horrific, chaotic scene

Emma Goos, a 19-year-old college student home for the summer, sat with a friend in the third row — the only seats left when they got there — when the figure entered the theater. “It took seven shots for me to realize it wasn’t a joke and realize it was a real gun,” Goos said. “I very much wanted to believe it was a prank. By that point, everyone was screaming to get down and our whole row collapsed on each other.” She wondered later if she escaped the gunman’s field of vision because of his gas mask: “His face was completely covered. He looked like a monster.” After exhausting the shotgun rounds, the gunman calmly dropped the weapon and resumed firing with the rifle as he made his way up the aisle. Twenty to 30 rapid-fire shots struck patrons in their stadium-style seats or scrambling up the steps, witnesses said. The dim light, combined with spreading smoke, obscured emergency exits as the passing time became impossible to reckon in the pandemonium. Seeger and a few others hushed one another as they moved away from the sound of the gunshots, hugging the floor and hoping the shooter would ignore them if he couldn’t hear them. She saw bodies lying around her. “I was trying to stay out of his sight,”


Chris Ramos

Jennifer Seeger

Jordan Crofter, 19, sneaked into theater 9 even though he had a ticket for the showing in the theater next door. He wanted to sit with his friends. One of those friends, who had been sitting in the first row was shot and collapsed.

1 The gunman was seen

The gunman moved through the crowd and stopped in front of Seeger. He pointed a long rifle at her face and said nothing. He shot at the person sitting behind her.

2 3

standing at the exit door in front of the theater. He left momentarily, then came back inside. The shooter threw two chemical canisters into the audience, one on either side of the theater. Moments later, he opened fire into the crowd as he moved up and down the right exit corridor. A man sitting on Ramos’ right was shot in the chest.



Chris Ramos


Drawing is schematic Suspect’s apartment Suspect worked at research labs at University Hospital

Potomac St.

E. Colfax Ave.

E. Alameda Ave. Site of shooting, Century Aurora 16 E. Mississippi Ave. mile


Theater 8

Airport Blvd.

Chambers Road


1⁄ 2

Century Aurora 16

E. Sixth Ave.

Theater 9

Suspect’s car parked behind theater

Witnesses were interviewed by police at Gateway High School

Sources: Eyewitness accounts; Google

she said. “I was pretending I was dead.” Elsewhere in the theater, 28-year-old Robert Jones also initially took the smoke to be an elaborate special effect. When gunshots ripped the semi-darkness, he knew it was something else, something horrific. “I thought it was pretty much the

Rear exit Thomas McKay and Severiano Galván, The Denver Post

end of the world,” he said. Chris Ramos initially took the flying canisters for fake bats, in the spirit of the film. But the sharp explosion and the hissing cloud of fumes changed his mind. Then he saw the gunman, standing in a corner of the theater, shoot a man sitting next to him in the chest. The vi-

Worst shootings in the U.S. April 16, 2007: At Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Va., 59 people were shot by Seung-Hui Cho; 32 were killed and 27 wounded. Aug. 1, 1966: Charles Whitman shot 47 people from the clock tower at the University of Texas at Austin; 16 were killed and 31 wounded. Oct. 16, 1991: In Killeen, Texas, 45 people were shot, 23 fatally and 22 wounded, by George Hennard at a Luby’s Cafeteria. July 18, 1984: At a McDonald’s restaurant in San Ysidro, Calif., 40 people were shot, 21 fatally and 19 wounded, by James Oliver Huberty. April 20, 1999: At Columbine High School in unincorporated Jefferson County, 39 people were shot, 13 fatally and 26 wounded, by students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. Nov. 5, 2009: Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan shot 37 people, 13 fatally and 24 wounded, at the Soldier Readiness Processing Center at Fort Hood, Texas. May 21, 1998: Kipland Kinkel shot 25 people, four fatally, including his parents, and wounded 21 in Springfield, Ore. The Denver Post Research Library

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The Denver Post will correct all errors occurring in its news columns. If you find a problem with a story — an error of fact or a point requiring clarification — please call the city desk at 303954-1201.

Friday’s winning numbers: 2 20 23 26 31

Jennifer Seeger

Jamie Rohrs, 4-month-old Ethan Rohrs, Patricia and Azariah Lagarreta The family is separated in the confusion but reunites afterward. Patricia is treated for shrapnel wounds.


Cash 5


Jordan Crofter

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Jordan Crofter

Sable Blvd.

The film played on

According to Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates, a suspect wearing ballistic equipment including a helmet, gas mask, vest, leggings, throat and groin protectors and gloves and armed with an AR-15 rifle, Remington 12-gauge shotgun and at least one handgun went on a shooting spree inside theater 9 at the Century Aurora 16 early Friday morning. People inside the theater provided accounts of the massacre:

Peoria St.

aurora» The lone figure who appeared suddenly at the front of the theater looked, to moviegoers engrossed in early scenes of “The Dark Knight Rises,” like a live-action twist on a fun midnight show already populated with costumed fans. Several minutes into the much-anticipated new Batman film, he entered through an exit door near the screen, clothed entirely in black. He carried multiple weapons — some long-barreled, some short — and wore what appeared to be body armor, gloves and a gas mask. He tossed two canisters that burst into billowing clouds. In the second row, Corbin Dates and Jennifer Seeger realized this wasn’t done for theatrical effect only when they began to choke on the fumes — and the dark figure fired a single shot into the ceiling. Far from a comic-book villain, the gunman methodically set about turning a packed movie premiere into a chaotic scene of random carnage that left 12 dead and dozens injured. The weapons were all too real: an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, a shotgun and a .40-caliber Glock handgun. The assailant then pointed the rifle directly at Seeger’s face — yet didn’t immediately pull the trigger. Instead, he fired into the row behind her while Seeger and Dates dived into the aisle and crawled to seek cover behind nearby seats. They felt hot shell casings burning their legs as the gunman fired multiple shots toward the back of the theater. “I have no idea why he didn’t shoot me,” recounted Seeger, 22. “He shot the person right behind me.” From his second-row vantage point, James Wilburn could make out a rifle slung over the gunman’s back. Amid the noxious fumes from the canister, he saw the assailant raise the shotgun and repeatedly fire toward the back of the theater. Ducking behind the seat backs in front of him, Wilburn figured the man couldn’t have been more than 5 to 6 feet away. Many in the audience took flight. Everyone was screaming

Eyewitness accounts

Havana St.

By Michael Booth and Kevin Simpson The Denver Post

olence had only begun, but Ramos, 20, would continue to be haunted by the sight of the killer blasting away, choosing people’s fate with each bullet. “No care for people’s ages, or male or female, or anything,” Ramos said. “He was heartless. I panicked. I thought at that moment I was going to die.” For Mora and Rita Silalahi and their teenage son Patrick, the gunman’s first shot into the theater ceiling prompted Mora to turn to his wife and say: “This is not right. We’d better duck.” Their friend, 42-year-old Jerry Sahertian, relayed their account of seeking cover beneath a ladder at the front of the theater. Then, during a brief silence after the initial fusillade, the three of them tried to flee to safety. “He saw my friends move, and he shot,” said Sahertian. Patrick took a round in the back, with the bullet lodging in his stomach. Rita was struck in the shoulder, elbow and left side. Both were later transported to area hospitals, where Rita underwent surgery. Naya Thompson, 21, and her 22-yearold boyfriend, Derrick Poage, also made a break for safety, with Thompson coughing and choking from the smoke. When they emerged, Poage no-

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ticed blood splashed on his pants. His shoes had come off in the chaos. Violence struck others who never saw it coming. In the adjacent theater in the multiplex, which also was showing the Batman feature, 23-year-old Eric Hunter heard three “pops” and saw holes appear in the wall to his right. Smoke wafted through them. It happened just as a gunfight broke out on screen, and like so many others, Hunter assumed this diversion was just another means of amping up the entertainment. “And then I thought, ‘Oh, it’s just firecrackers, or stupid kids,’ ” Hunter said. Seconds later, he heard several more pops and saw more holes in the wall — and realized something was seriously wrong. Nearby, Joel Wheelersburg also heard shots coming from the theater on the right and figured them for “new sound effects.” But then he noticed the smoke drifting through the holes. “I thought, why smoke? Why ash?” said Wheelersburg, 27. Then he noticed something even more disturbing — people hunched over in the seats near the holes. They looked hurt. Some were. Meghan Walton, 20, was sitting next to 18-year-old Gage Hankins when one of the bullets ripped through the wall and struck her friend in the arm. Walton ran outside with him, holding his arm, and remembers that it felt hot. Her vision blurry from the smoke, she counted a dozen people bleeding as ambulances arrived. She could hear hysterical crying. As Hunter rose to leave the theater, the violent reality of the situation began to dawn on him. Blood pooled on the stairs. He and others yelled a warning: There was a shooter. He came upon two teenage girls who appeared to be in shock — one looked to have been shot in the jaw. Blood ran from her face and down her shirt. Hunter said he grabbed their hands and began to lead the girls outside but then saw the gunman walking down the hallway from the adjacent theater. The quick glimpse — all-black clothing, mask, body armor, multiple weapons — told Hunter that the assailant “didn’t plan on making it out of there.” He pulled the girls back inside, slammed the door and held it shut. He said someone, presumably the shooter, pounded on it for a few seconds.

Then nothing Unsure whether anyone had notifed authorities, he told another patron to hit the fire alarm. Once the shooting stopped, and the threat appeared to pass, he helped walk the girls out through the lobby, past others who were wounded, past cops rushing in and ambulance workers brushing past. Outside, huddled with a terrified group of patrons, Hunter looked back at the doors and watched a large man pace back and forth, in apparent agony, then scream and fall over. He appeared to have been shot in the back. He saw a little girl carried out limp in a man’s arms. Time crawled. Jennifer Seeger, the young woman who had looked down the barrel of the assailant’s rifle, estimates the ordeal lasted perhaps 10 or 15 minutes. Once outside, she phoned her anxious father. “My dad is not a sentimental guy,” Seeger said, “but he was crying on the phone.” Tom McGhee and Kurtis Lee contributed to this report. Kevin Simpson: 303-954-1739, or

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the denver post B B saturday, july 21, 2012


James Holmes’s car was found in the back of the theater. Police found a combat helmet, duffel bag, an ammunition magazine, a vest and a Glock handgun. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

SHOOTING «FROM 1A booby-trapped with explosives, techno music blasting from his stereo. His building and five buildings around it were evacuated. The names of the victims were not released, but they include aspiring sports journalist Jessica Ghawi; Alex Sullivan, who was celebrating his 27th birthday at the movie; 23-year-old Micayla Medek; Matt McQuinn, at the theater with his girlfriend and her brother; a U.S. Navy sailor; and a child. Families and friends of those unaccounted for gathered at Gateway High School in Aurora, holding up photos and awaiting news from the six hospitals that cared for victims. Aurora police spent 90 minutes Friday afternoon with about 70 family members who had not heard from their loved ones since the shooting. Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said he expected families of the dead would learn their fate Friday night. The bodies of the 10 people who died in the theater were left there until about 5 p.m. as hundreds of police officers and FBI agents investigated the crime scene. Two other people died at hospitals, which were slammed with gun-wound surgeries. Most of the 58 injured had gunshot wounds, but a handful had other injuries resulting from the mayhem inside the dimly lit theater. Of the injured, 30 were still in the hospital Friday evening, 11 in critical condition.

tion online, legally, the police chief said. A gas mask, a bloody jacket, popcorn and drinks were strewn on the pavement outside the theater. A reporter in a news helicopter saw bloody footprints. Many of the nearly 200 officers at the theater drove victims to hospitals, as ambulances were doubled up with casualties. The Department of Defense confirmed a U.S. Navy sailor who was at the theater was unaccounted for. One other Navy sailor and two U.S. Air Force airmen were injured in the attack, according to the statement. The shooting suspect was never was a member of the military, federal officials said. One of the victims died at Children’s Hospital in Aurora, but officials there would not say whether it was a child or an adult. The most seriously injured of the other five patients there had buckshot injuries to the back.

Two of the victims at Children’s were hit with a high-velocity rifle, perhaps from 60 to 80 feet away, emergency-room physician Dr. Guy Upshaw said.

Theater filled with smoke Josh Kelly, 28, was watching the movie with his girlfriend of about four years. He lost her in the chaos. Josh called his father, Robert Kelly, from the theater and said: “I can’t find my girl.” In the darkness and the smoke, and people panicking and trampling one another, he “just lost track, and he couldn’t see,” the elder Kelly said. “My son is freaked out.” The dark theater quickly filled with smoke that stung people’s eyes and throats after the gunman tossed gas canisters, witnesses said. Moviegoers dropped to the floor and crawled over one another to get out. Some dragged bloodied bodies to the lobby. “I ran. I pushed. I did whatever I had to do to get out,” said Resharee Good-

Difficulty coping “It was like something out of a movie,” said Jacob King, who was standing in the lobby when someone carried out a motionless little girl, covered in blood. “You don’t want to believe it’s real, but it is.” A police officer took the girl and set her in the back of his squad car, then sped away. Oates, his voice choked with emotion during an evening news conference, said his officers will need help coping in the aftermath of the shootings. “Our cops went through a lot,” he said. “They were taking people out of that theater and into their own police cars.” Aurora police began receiving a swath of calls at 12:39 a.m. and were at the theater within 90 seconds. Holmes was taken into custody behind the theater, near a white Hyundai. Investigators found a 12-gauge shotgun, an AR-15 assault-style weapon and a .40-caliber Glock handgun. A second Glock was found in Holmes’ car, and authorities also removed a combat helmet, duffel bag, an ammunition magazine and a vest. The guns were purchased legally from local stores, and Holmes bought more than 6,000 rounds of ammuni-

Amanda Medek, who was looking for her sister Micayla, is overcome with emotion outside Gateway High School on Friday in Aurora. Late Friday, it was confirmed that Micayla Medek was among the 12 people who lost their lives in the mass shooting at a movie theater. RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post

lo, whose friend didn’t make it out of the theater and is feared dead. Emma Goos, 19, was separated from her friend, but they both made it out alive. She described “15 seconds of fire, fire, fire. He let off 20 rounds in 30 seconds.” Goos tried to go home and sleep, but her thoughts were too haunting: A man with soft tissue on his head, blood gushing down his arms, holding his head and asking, “Is there a hole? Is there a hole?” Children walking out, clutching people they had never met. A girl with shrapnel in her hips being trampled at the door. And “the gunman himself standing there with his feet spread apart as if he were the king of the world, like a video game or a movie scene,” Goos said.

Gunman “calm” Jordan Crofter, 19, sneaked into theater 9 even though he had a ticket for the showing in the theater next door. He wanted to sit with his friends. Crofter said the gunman appeared lackadaisical, “as calm as can be,” and didn’t say a word. “He was sitting there like target practice. He was trying to shoot as many people as he could.” Crofter ran for his life and was the first to the lobby. He found out later that a friend in the first row had been shot and collapsed. He didn’t know Friday whether he lived. One of the shots blasted through the wall into theater 8, hitting a person there. The University of Colorado said Holmes was withdrawing from the university’s graduate program in neurosciences, after enrolling at the university in June 2011. Holmes graduated from the University of California, Riverside in 2010 with a degree in neuroscience, the university said. Authorities saw jars of liquid and ammunition in Holmes’ apartment and said they would return Saturday with federal agents to clean it up. Neighbors were allowed to go home one at a time to collect medicines or other necessities but not stay the night. Jackie Mitchell said he had drinks and talked football with Holmes a few nights ago at the Zephyr Lounge. Holmes was “geeky” and had a “swagger” to him, Mitchell said. “He just didn’t seem the type to go into a movie theater and shoot it up,” Mitchell said. “He seemed like a real smart dude.” Witnesses said police came running into the theater shouting at them to run out. Some of the officers carried or dragged victims to safety. Tammi Stevens, whose 18-year-old son Jacob was inside theater 9, waited for him at Gateway High School. “You let your kids go to a late-night movie ... you never think something like this would happen,” she said. Aurora police provide security at the theater on weekends, but because the movie premiere was playing Friday just after midnight, they were not there. The police chief said his officers would provide extra security this

The following staff writers contributed to this report Karen Augé, Michael Booth, Douglas Brown, Jennifer Brown, Suzanne Brown, Kristen BrowningBlas, Joey Bunch, Sara Burnett, Karen E. Crummy, Joanne Davidson, Jessica Fender, Eric Gorski, Tegan Hanlon, Carlos Illescas, John Ingold, Lindsay Jones, Lisa Kennedy, Joey Kirchmer, Kurtis Lee, Tom McGhee, Jeremy P. Meyer, Kirk Mitchell, Kieran Nicholson, Joe Nguyen, Colleen O’Connor, David Olinger, Joanne Ostrow, Kristen Lee Painter, Ryan Parker, William Porter, Allison Sherry, Kevin Simpson, Jordan Steffen, Erin Udell, Joe Vaccarelli, John Wenzel, Monte Whaley

weekend at four other Aurora theaters showing the Batman movie, as a precaution. Sometime around 1 a.m., patients began arriving at the Medical Center of Aurora. A total of 15 patients — ranging from 16 to 31 years old — were sent to the medical center, 12 of them with gunshot wounds. An additional three patients arrived at the hospital Friday afternoon, the hospital said. Two patients in critical condition were at Swedish Medical Center. Denver Health Medical Center treated six victims; three were released and three listed in fair condition, hospital officials said. The University of Colorado Hospital had 23 victims, nine in critical condition. More than 100 FBI and 25 Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents were deployed to Colorado to help local authorities in Aurora, U.S. Department of Justice officials said. The president ordered all flags flown at half-staff in honor of the victims. The Town Center Mall in Aurora was closed Friday but was to reopen Saturday. A prayer vigil was planned in Aurora for 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Warner Bros. studio canceled the red-carpet premiere event of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Paris, and the studio released a statement saying the company is “deeply saddened to learn about this shocking incident.” Lines from previous Batman movies were quoted online Friday as news of the shooting spread, including: “Some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.” Aurora police are asking anyone with information about the shootings to call Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867. Families looking for information about loved ones should call 303-739-1862. Jennifer Brown: 303-954-1593, or


saturday, july 21, 2012 B B the denver post


SUSPECT «FROM 1A From what little is known about the suspect, it appears that he was a study in contrast — a smart and quiet man who authorities say harbored a deadly plan. In high school the boy known as “Jimmy” quit the soccer team after his sophomore year and focused mostly on his studies. He earned a degree in neuroscience with highest honors from the University of California Riverside in 2010 but didn’t walk in his commencement ceremony. Oates said Holmes, who did not resist when he was arrested outside the theater minutes after the shooting, acted alone. Oates declined to discuss what motive, if any, Holmes gave police. One hint could be in what New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters Friday, saying that Holmes had reportedly identified himself as Batman’s arch-enemy “The Joker” to authorities. “He had his hair painted red, he said he was ‘The Joker,’ obviously the ‘enemy’ of Batman,” Kelly said at a news conference, addressing the increased security at New York City theaters. Oates, who said he talked with Kelly early Friday, would not confirm that report. But residents of Holmes’ apartment building said police who came to their doors immediately after the shooting asked if they had seen a man with his hair dyed red or pink. Information compiled from multiple sources shows the planning for the attack was methodical, went back months and coincided with Holmes’ withdrawal from a graduate program in neuroscience at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. In May, he began buying guns and apparently stocking up on the body armor that police said he wore during the shooting: a ballistic helmet and vest, ballistic leggings, throat and groin protector, a gas mask and black tactical gloves. Before he left for the movie theater he booby-trapped his apartment, attaching several trip wires to 1-liter plastic bottles containing an unknown substance in a manner so sophisticated Oates said it could take days to disarm. It’s so “vexing” that by nightfall Friday officers had still not risked entering the apartment, instead using cameras to probe. “I personally have never seen anything like what the pictures show us in there,” Oates said. Holmes’ parents, who live in San Diego, issued a statement saying the family is cooperating with authorities. His father flew to Denver Friday afternoon. His mother remained at the family home, neighbors said. “Our hearts go out to those who were involved in this tragedy and to the families and friends of those involved,” they said. “We are still trying to process this information and we appreciate that people will respect our privacy.” Holmes grew up in San Diego, graduating from Westview High School in 2006. He then went on to the University of California Riverside, where Chancellor Timothy White said Holmes distinguished himself, graduating with highest honors. “Academically, he was the top of the top,” White said. The Mai family has lived next door to the Holmes family for abut 15 years on a middle-class street in suburban San Diego. Christine Mai, 17, said she never saw Jimmy Holmes act out violently or with a weapon, nor did she see him socializing with friends or bringing girlfriends home. The Holmes family had Christmas parties in their front yard and often exchanged gifts with the Mais, she said. Last year, they shared hot apple cider in the front yard with other neighbors. “He seemed like a nice guy,” she said. “His mother used to tell us he was a good son.” After graduation from UCR, Holmes took a part-time job at a nearby McDonald’s. “I felt bad for him because he studied so hard,” Mai said. “My brother said he looked kind of down; he seemed depressed.” Julie Adams said her son played soccer with Holmes at Westview High. Holmes played his freshman and sophomore years, she said. While most of the other kids — her son Taylor included — played league soccer and continued the sport throughout high school, Holmes wasn’t as involved, she said. “I could tell you a lot about every single kid on that team except for him,” Adams said. “He was more aloof.” She was shocked to discover helicopters circling her San Diego neighborhood because of Holmes’ alleged rampage. “Taylor remembers playing soccer

Agents from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigate the scene behind the Century Aurora 16 theater where 12 people were killed and 58 injured in a shooting during a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.” AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post with him. He said he was quiet, reserved and a respectful kid,” Adams said. According to her son’s yearbook, Holmes also ran cross country as a freshman but did not continue the sport. Holmes came to Colorado in May 2011 and started in CU’s neuroscience program a month later. But by last month, he was in the process of withdrawing, university spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery said Friday. In an e-mail message to members of the campus community, Doug Abraham, chief of police for the university, said Holmes’ access to campus buildings was terminated while his withdrawal was being processed. He said officials do not believe Holmes has been on campus since then, but authorities evacuated several research buildings as a precautionary measure while they waited for bombsniffing dogs to search buildings Friday afternoon. In an application Holmes submitted for a different apartment early last

year, he described himself as a “quiet and easy-going” student. Other tenants in his building — which is reserved for students, faculty and staff of the medical campus — described him as a recluse. Kaitlyn Fonzi, a 20-year-old biology student at University of Colorado Denver who lives in an apartment below Holmes’ said she heard techno music blasting from Holmes apartment around midnight. Another tenant said residents called 9-1-1 about the racket. Fonzi went upstairs and knocked on the door. When no one answered, she put her hand on the knob and realized the door was unlocked. Fonzi decided not to go inside the apartment. At almost exactly 1 a.m., Fonzi said, the music stopped. Denver Post writers Kieran Nicholson, Monte Whaley and Jordan Steffen and the Associated Press contributed.

Weapons in possession SHOOTER’S GEAR Ballistic helmet Gas mask

James Eagan Holmes legally purchased all four firearms at local stores within 60 days of the shooting at the Century Aurora 16. The ammo for each weapon was legally purchased from online vendors.

Tactical vest

REMINGTON 870 12-GAUGE SHOTGUN Holmes first shot into the crowd with a shotgun, aiming toward the back of the theater. Purchased at Bass Pro Shop Ammo: 2.75-inch, 12-gauge shells

SMITH & WESSON M&P15 Ballistic leggings

The rifle, a civilian version of the U.S. military’s M-16, was strapped to the shooter’s back and could hold 100 rounds. Purchased at Gander Mountain in Thornton Ammo: .223-caliber rounds

Metal shin guards

Armored boots

GLOCK .40-CALIBER PISTOL One handgun was found inside Theater 9. A second handgun was found in the shooter’s car behind the building. One purchased each at Gander Mountain stores in Thornton and Denver Ammo: .40-caliber rounds

Sources: McClatchy Tribune; Remington; Smith & Wesson; Glock

Danielle Kees, The Denver Post


Gunman came to theater with four weapons The firearms used in the shootings were likely purchased legally. By David Olinger The Denver Post

aurora» The killer brought four guns — two semi-automatic pistols, an assault-style rifle and a shotgun — to the movie theater, where 70 people were shot or injured, of whom 12 died. He also came dressed for battle, wearing a gas mask, a combat helmet, a ballistic vest and armor protecting his legs, throat and groin. Law enforcement officials said Friday that they are investigating whether James Eagan Holmes, the 24-year-old suspect, was legally eligible to own all those weapons and combat gear. But they had found no evidence of a criminal history that would have prohibited him from buying the weapons used to massacre moviegoers at a midnight Batman premiere in Aurora. His only run-in with police: an October 2011 speeding ticket. Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates said Holmes brought a pair of .40-caliber Glock pistols, an AR-15 militarystyle rifle and a Remington shotgun to the Century Aurora 16 complex, but it was unclear whether he used them all as he strode through the theater, shooting people apparently at random. One Glock pistol was found in his white Hyundai when police arrested him outside the car, he said. Oates said Holmes purchased 6,000 rounds of ammunition and multiple magazines, including a drum magazine able to hold 100 cartridges, from stores and on the Internet. Oates also said investigators have not yet determined how many shots were fired or how many gun magazines were brought to the theater to carry out the midnight massacre. But “many, many rounds were fired,” he said. According to one law enforcement source, the gunman could easily have shot police officers as they approached because of all his combat gear but sat calmly by his car instead. The AR-15 is a semi-automatic version of the military M-16 rifle, first marketed for civilian sales in 1963. Glock, an Austrian gunmaker, has

become the leading seller of semi-automatic pistols to U.S. law enforcement agencies and offers a variety of .40-caliber pistols to civilians as well. The Remington Model 870 is a U.S.-made pump-action shotgun used by the public for sport shooting and hunting and is often carried by law enforcement and military personnel. Convicted felons, people convicted of domestic violence and people who have been adjudicated as mentally defective or committed to a mental institution are among those prohibited from buying guns in the United States. Though Holmes apparently purchased his legally, “There is a huge gun issue here,” said Kristen Rand, legislative director for the Violence Policy Center, a gun-control group. From Columbine High to Virginia Tech to Fort Hood to the Aurora movie theater, mass murderers have brought “high-capacity magazines used either in pistols or assault rifles,” she said. “That is the common thread.” Holmes wielded a variant of the AR-15 manufactured by Smith and Wesson that comes with a 30-round magazine, she said, and Glock “really drove the switchover from revolvers to semi-automatic pistols” in the American market. On its website, Gun Owners of America, a group opposed to stricter gun laws, blamed Holmes’ ability to shoot so many people on the absence of guns in the audience. “The gunman used a movie gunfight to cover his actions and further surprise the innocent patrons. Worse, the theater in Aurora reportedly has a ‘no guns’ policy,” the group stated. “Despite gun control’s obvious failure, the calls for more restrictions have already begun.” Rand and Brad Beyersdorf, a spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Denver, said they think people who have not been convicted of violent felonies can legally purchase the ballistic gear Holmes wore. One of the pistols and the rifle were purchased at Gander Mountain in Thornton. The second pistol was bought at the Gander Mountain in Denver and the shotgun at the Denver Bass Pro Shop, according to Tom Mangan, a Phoenix-based agent with the ATF.


the denver post B B saturday, july 21, 2012



Booby-trapped apartment “vexing” bomb technicians By Tom McGhee and Monte Whaley The Denver Post

A tangle of wires, trip wires, jars full of liquid and things resembling mortar rounds looked like it would keep bomb technicians out of the alleged Aurora theater shooter’s apartment until Saturday. Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates on Friday night called the potentially explosive mess “vexing” and said that Saturday, bomb technicians from Colorado would get help from the federal government. “Hopefully, we will be able to address and solve that problem tomorrow,” he said. Until then, the building at 1690 Paris St., where the gunman who allegedly killed 12 and injured 58 others during an early-morning showing of the newest Batman movie lived, remains evacuated. Residents evacuated from four other buildings near it were being allowed to return briefly to retrieve necessities, such as medication, Oates said. Rumors flew around the complex at Peoria and East 17th Avenue, as residents mingled with medical students from the nearby University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and others who came by to see what had become a macabre reminder of the mass shooting at the nearby Century Aurora 16 movie theater. “It has been very confusing and very frightening,” said Kaitlyn Fonzi, who lives with her boyfriend in the apartment below James Eagan Holmes, 24, who has been identified as the alleged shooter. Friday morning, police officers and FBI agents rode a firetruck bucket to the third floor of the threestory building, smashed a window with a long pole and took pictures inside Holmes’ residence. Aurora Deputy Fire Chief Chris Henderson said they found a number of liter-sized soda bottles filled with an unknown liquid connected with wires inside. “We’re not sure exactly where they connect to,” Henderson said. Earlier plans to send in a robot were scrapped for the moment. Henderson said earlier Friday that if a robot somehow detonated the device, the situation would be worse. Fire crews have been on hand to fight any blaze, but engines have begun to leave. Henderson said he had never seen a device like this before. He called the situation “fluid” and said it “could change at any moment.” Jim Yacone, special agent in charge of the Denver FBI, said emergency workers were working on “how to disarm the flammable or explosive material.” Yellow police tape remains around the run-down complex. Fonzi, a University of Colorado Denver biology major, said Holmes’ apartment erupted with loud techno music around midnight Wednesday. She went up to the apartment to ask him to turn the music down. The door was ajar, and she placed her

Police investigate the suspect’s apartment near East 17th Avenue and Peoria Street on Friday. Stephen Mitchell, The Denver Post


Suspect to make first appearance Monday By Carlos Illescas The Denver Post

An Aurora police officer on Friday carries a laundry basket of items for a woman allowed to return to her residence near the apartments where shooting suspect James Eagan Holmes lives. Police said Holmes, who is accused of killing 12 people at a movie theater early Friday, had booby-trapped his apartment. Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post hand on the doorknob but didn’t push it open. Something made her think she shouldn’t go in, she said. She thought Holmes might have wanted to lure someone inside. “There has never been music like

that playing in that apartment until last night,” she said. Tom McGhee: 303-954-1671, or

James Eagan Holmes, the suspected shooter in the Aurora movie-theater killings, is scheduled to appear in Arapahoe County court Monday morning for an initial advisement. After that, it could be months until he is tried in the shooting of 71 people, 12 of whom died. In between, he could face a competency evaluation and a decision on whether the district attorney will seek the death penalty. But Monday starts the clock ticking in his legal case. District Attorney Carol Chambers will likely decide sometime next week on what and how many charges to file against him. There will be at least 71 charges — one for each victim — and probably more. Once Holmes is charged, the defense will then ask that a preliminary hearing be set. An arraignment would follow and then motions hearings before reaching trial. The process will likely take months. For now, two of the biggest questions regarding Holmes’ legal case are whether the district attorney will seek the death penalty and whether his defense team will ask the state to determine whether he is competent to stand trial, legal observers say. Chambers, who could not be

reached for comment, has not been shy about seeking the death penalty during her tenure. Two of the three prisoners on death row, Robert Ray and Sir Mario Owens, were put there by her office. And she has sought the death penalty six times. Chambers is term-limited, and two people are running in November to fill her seat. Because of that, any decision Chambers makes could be changed by the new DA, said Denver attorney Phil Cherner. Republican candidate George Brauchler and Democrat Ethan Feldman are running for the office. The other issue is Holmes’ competency. He appeared to have a meticulous plan leading up to Friday’s massacre, police said. But competency is about whether a suspect understands the court proceedings, not about whether he knows right from wrong. And Cherner said it might not always be wise to seek a court evaluation. Holmes’ defense team will likely do its own evaluation before deciding on whether to ask the state to do so. Ultimately, a judge would decide whether Holmes is competent for trial. “If you raise the competency issue, you let the government into your client’s head,” Cherner said. “That’s the one thing they have that nobody else has.”


Immortal? No, but alleged gunman is tragic reminder of problem By Chuck Murphy The Denver Post

aurora» he AR-15 is a lightweight, versatile rifle capable of firing a .223-caliber round at 3,200 feet per second. That’s fast enough to travel from one side of a 160-footwide movie theater to the other in 50 milliseconds, and much faster than the 300-millisecond blink of an eye. Retail, the rifle will run you anywhere from $750 to $1,000. But, as a weapon, it is all but worthless without an operator. Before the sun had risen Friday, the deaths of 12 people in an Aurora movie theater had already become the latest platform for America’s ceaseless gun debate. If form continues to hold true, one side will use the massacre to argue that rifles like the AR-15 have no civilian purpose and are too easy to purchase, making mass slayings inevitable.


The other side will argue that if just one other patron had been armed at the midnight movie, the tragedy might have been averted by creating a death toll of only one — suspect James Eagan Holmes. Both sides are right. But neither will ever compromise, and continuing to entertain their debate distracts us from a far more important, and perhaps even solvable, question. We don’t yet know if the accused has been previously diagnosed as mentally ill. We have ample evidence that he is deranged. And in the U.S. , we have scarce resources for treating mental illness and are even worse about monitoring patients who suffer from it. If we are looking for solutions to horrifying events such as Friday morning’s mass shooting, it’s a good place to start. For the past 50 years, inpatient treatment of the mentally ill has moved from hospitals to jails. A recent study published in the

Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law noted that the number of beds available for inpatient psychiatric treatment has fallen from 339 per 100,000 Americans in 1955 to 22 per 100,000 in the year 2000. Either we have gotten a lot saner as a nation or we have chosen to ignore the real problem. Other evidence suggests it is the latter. Today, the percentage of our inmate population diagnosed as depressed, schizophrenic, bipolar or suffering from other psychiatric conditions stands between 16 and 24 percent, according to that same study. That is a minimum of 309,000 of our nation’s 2 million inmates who have an identified psychiatric disorder and are receiving only the bare minimum in treatment before being released at the completion of their sentences. This is not to excuse Holmes’ alleged actions or let him hide behind a psychiatric condition to avoid punish-

ment. On the contrary, based on some of the eyewitness accounts, the killer seemed very much in control in the theater, even making choices of victims, rather than firing indiscriminately. That, along with the boobytrap wiring at his apartment, indicates he is equal parts genius and madman. Shouldn’t someone have noticed? Shouldn’t he have gotten help long before this? A neuroscience faculty member at the University of Colorado who spoke, anonymously (how brave!), to The Washington Post said Holmes was “very quiet, strangely quiet” in class and “socially off.” That same faculty member said he actually wasn’t surprised when he learned that the James Holmes he knew was the accused gunman. Let that sink in. The best research into the mindset of mass killers has found that they almost invariably had high expectations for themselves, fell short and chose destruction as a means to immortality.

The little we know about Holmes tracks nicely along that path, but he hasn’t come close to achieving immortality. Beyond the grieving families making funeral arrangements and flying the flags at half staff, his impact didn’t last one full day on the broader community. By Friday afternoon, just blocks from his apartment, yard sales were underway, kids were on the playground, the swimming pool at Del Mar Park was packed to overflowing. James Eagan Holmes is not immortal. If convicted, he won’t be remembered any more than the killers at Virginia Tech, Toronto or even Columbine have survived in our minds — and how many of those can you name? No, Holmes is nothing but the latest horrifying reminder that we still have some big problems lurking out there. Chuck Murphy: 303-954-1829, or


saturday, july 21, 2012 B B the denver post

VICTIMS «FROM 1A ”Ghawi was one of four of the deceased whose identities were known at press time. The family of Alex Sullivan said he was one of the 10 people who died inside the theater (two others died at area hospitals). He was attending the film on his 27th birthday. “Alex was smart, funny and, above all, loved dearly by his friends and family,” a release from the family said. Late Friday, The Associated Press confirmed the death of Micayla Medek, 23. And WHIO TV in Dayton, Ohio, citing Aurora police, identified a fourth casualty as Matt McQuinn, of nearby St. Paris, Ohio. McQuinn was reportedly killed while trying to shield his girlfriend, Samantha Yowler, from the gunfire. The station said the couple worked together at a Target in Ohio and transfered to a store in Denver last year. For others, anguish over the fate of missing friends and loved ones remained. Many family members of the missing spent the day at nearby Gateway High School, waiting, while hints and scraps of information trickled out to the public. Earlier Friday, Alex Sullivan’s dad, Tom, paced the parking lot alternately hugging friends and showing anyone who would look at a photo of his thenmissing son. By midday, the Department of Defense confirmed that one of those missing was serving in the Navy and was believed dead. Also, a distraught man who wanted to remain anonymous told a reporter that his 6-yearold daughter was gone. At 6 p.m., a friend of Rebecca Wingo, a single mother of two, went on television pleading for information about the woman he last saw in the theater as the carnage unfolded. For Ghawi’s family, word of her death came in a middle-of-the-night phone call from a friend who had gone with her to the movie, her brother, Jordan Ghawi, told 9News. Peter Burns, a Denver sports-talk radio host who worked with Ghawi in San Antonio and who encouraged her to come to Colorado, said he wasn’t surprised his friend was at the movie for the midnight premiere. “She was an experience person,” he said. “If there’s a game, she wanted to be there. She even found a way to be at the Stanley Cup finals. She just kind of found a way.” He wasn’t sure, but he said he believed she had gone to Toronto to be with her boyfriend, a minor-league hockey player. When fire destroyed the homes of so many in Colorado last month, Ghawi decided to start collecting donated hockey equipment for kids. “She wanted to help. That’s the type of heart she had,” Jordan Ghawi told 9News. Jessica Ghawi paid the bills by working as a waitress, until she was laid off recently, said Adrian Dater, who covers the Colorado Avalanche for The Denver Post. Dater met Ghawi in the team’s press box, where she was working for 104.3 The Fan. Her goal was to earn a living as a sports journalist. Thursday night, from Century Aurora 16, she tweeted: “Of course we’re seeing Dark Knight. Redheaded Texan spitfire. People should never argue with me. Maybe I should get in on those NHL talks.” Ghawi was in Toronto on June 2, grabbing a bite to eat in a shopping mall, when, she wrote on her blog, she “felt funny,’’ left the food court and walked outside. Moments later, shots rang out in the food court Ghawi had been standing in. The gunfire killed a 25-year-old man and wounded six others, two critically. In a blog post dated June 5, she described watching as paramedics rushed a shirtless and badly wounded man from the food court, wheeling him past her. “It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around how a weird feeling saved me from being in the middle of a deadly shooting,” Ghawi wrote. “I say all the time that every moment we have to live our life is a blessing. So often I have found myself taking it for granted. Every hug from a family member. Every laugh we share with friends. Even the times of solitude are all blessings. Every second of every day is a gift. After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given.” Late Thursday night, as she waited for the show to start in sold-out theater 9, she tweeted her excitement and impatience, and ribbed friends who weren’t there. “MOVIE DOESN’T START FOR 20 MINUTES,”shetweetedbeforemidnight. It was her last message.

To my friend: Read Adrian



arietta Perkins prays Friday in a field near Century Aurora 16, the movie theater complex in Aurora where a gunman killed 12 and injured dozens more during the midnight screening of the new Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises.” People gathered in the field all day, including Nathan Mendonca, left, and his girlfriend Melissa Clark, both 18.


Photos by Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post


Disbelief, horror, worry and then, finally, relief New to Colorado, a young family scrambled to escape the gunman. By Eric Gorski The Denver Post

aurora» Jamie Rohrs can’t recall the exact moment he lost his son — how 4-month-old Ethan went from resting in his arms to lying alone on the theater stairs as smoke, gunfire and screaming were all around. His young family, new to Colorado, had decided to attend the midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” just hours before. All wore Batman T-shirts — 25year-old Rohrs; his fiancée, Patricia Legarreta; her 4-year-old daughter, Azariah; and baby Ethan. When a man with a gas mask and guns entered theater No. 9 and started shooting, Rohrs and Legarreta had to decide in a matter of moments how to best save themselves and their children. “You’re just thinking, ‘Am I in a dream?’ ” Rohrs said. “ ‘Am I in a nightmare?’ There are flashes. Everything is so loud. I am thinking, ‘Is this the day I die? Will this be the bullet that kills me?’ ” Speaking to the media Friday, Rohrs and Legarreta counted themselves fortunate — Ethan dozing in his father’s arms, Legarreta hurting from the shrapnel lodged in her leg, their family intact. Rohrs, who hadn’t been feeling well, called his fiancée at about 6:30 p.m. Thursday and suggested they see the new Batman movie. The young couple recently relocated to Denver after Rohrs graduated from the University of New Mexico pharmacy school and took a job at a local Walmart pharmacy. After arriving at the theater at about 11:10 p.m., the family found three seats

and the family settled in — Azariah occupying herself with Sour Patch Kids and SpongeBob candy just purchased from a 7-Eleven. Legarreta scanned the theater, looking for the faces of other young children, hoping they were not alone in bringing theirs to a midnight movie, mindful that some people might think them “horrible parents.” A few minutes before the lights went down, she nudged Rohrs: Look, she said, another infant. A 3-monthold in a car carrier. The crowd was festive, cheering even at the preview of “The Hobbit” movie. One woman was dressed as Catwoman. Then, the man in the gas mask walked in through the exit door. He tossed something — a canister of some sort — over the audience and onto a stairwell. A girl screamed. “You think, ‘Is this a prank?’ ” Legarreta said. “You hear about that sometimes at midnight movies.” Soon enough, it became clear it was

no prank. “Get down!” shouted Rohrs, who was holding a sleeping Ethan. Legarreta grabbed her daughter, who was sleeping on the seat next to her, and pulled her to the floor. “Is this how I die?” Legarreta thought. “Is this how it ends?” Rohrs has Ethan, she thought. OK. She stood up. Then she felt a tingling sensation in her leg. Her mistake had been moving. Others in the theater described the gunman shooting at anyone who moved. “I think I got shot!” Legarreta yelled. Behind her, a voice from a man: “So did I.” In the smoke and dark and confusion, she searched for Rohrs. When the gunfire started, Rohrs said, he tried to duck behind a seat. It was chaos. People were falling, crawling, stumbling all around. He wondered what to do. If he stood up, would he be shot? Would Ethan be shot if he cried?

Patricia Legarreta and Jamie Rohrs, holding 4-month-old Ethan, talk to the media Friday about the theater shootings in which 12 people were killed and 58 others injured. Joe Amon, The Denver Post

Rohrs still isn’t sure how he lost Ethan. One moment he was in his arms; the next, he was gone. Rohrs hurtled over some seats, found his way to the stairway, and ran. “I’m disoriented,” he said. “I don’t know where my family is. Did they get out? Should I run back in? I can’t leave them there to die. I am thinking, ‘I lost my family. They’re dead.’ ” What he did not know is that he could not find Ethan because Legarreta had picked him up off the stairs. Legarreta considered her options. Should I play dead? My kids are not going to die in here, she thought. She had only a moment to decide, and in that moment she grabbed her kids and ran for the lobby. Just let me get them through the door, she thought. All the while, she is thinking, “Who does this? Who goes into a movie theater filled with teenagers and starts shooting?” She had no phone, no purse. In the parking lot, Rohrs was frantic. People were running everywhere. Then, he sees an unfamiliar Colorado number come up on his cellphone: It is Legarreta, on a borrowed phone. The kids were fine. At University of Colorado Hospital, Legarreta was treated for shrapnel wounds from her ankle to the upper thigh. Sitting at the hospital, she couldn’t shake the images of the other children she had seen in the theater, the faces she remembered, the 3month-old, someone else’s baby. “Innocent people, kids, lost their lives,” Patricia said. “I am so thankful and blessed my family got out and my kids are OK. I hurt for the families that did not come out together the way they came in.” Eric Gorski: 303-954-1971, or

Dater’s blog about Jessica Ghawi. »

You’re just thinking, ‘Am I in a dream? Am I in a nightmare?’ Jamie Rohrs, who survived the movie theater shooting along with his fiancée and young children


the denver post B B saturday, july 21, 2012




Several Heroic e≠orts to save lives hundred gather to mourn A “silver lining” amid horror: 3-month-old survives on night that tests hospitals’ mettle. By Kirk Mitchell The Denver Post

Pastors beseech attendees to “come together” and help the community heal. By Lindsay H. Jones and Kristen Lee Painter The Denver Post

aurora» Pastors from across the Denver metro area had a July 20 prayer vigil planned for weeks, a response to the summer full of violence. They quickly decided to move Friday’s vigil to the Kaiser Permanente parking lot, across from the Century 16 theater where 12 people were killed and 58 others were injured as they watched a movie. Three ministerial alliances brought their pastors to pray at the vigil in front of a crowd of several hundred people. “Since this happened, we said it is time to come together,” said Thomas Mayes, pastor at the Living Water Christian Center Church in northwest Aurora. The crowd of mourners remained in the parking lot until after sundown, lighting candles, hugging, praying and singing songs. “The brazenness of this violence seems to keep rising,” said Patrick Demmer, pastor at Graham Memorial Church of God and Christ. Brian Rohrbough, the father of Columbine shooting victim Daniel Rohrbough, told mourners to reach out to the families and friends of Friday’s shooting victims in order to help the community heal. “I encourage you to recognize God didn’t put us here on the Earth to be on the sidelines,” Rohrbough said. “Tell them you are praying for them.” Shortly after the prayers ended, a group of teens, several wearing orange and black Gateway High attire, received a message that a classmate had died. Girls broke into sobs, and several boys exchanged long hugs. Oliver Robinson, 18, was in theater 9 with several of his Gateway High classmates. He said they had been worried about the fate of a missing friend all day. Robinson said he was sitting near the top of the theater. His missing friend was sitting near the front. “We took cover till he stopped shooting,” said Robinson, who graduated in May. “He was loading another clip, and we escaped out the top.” The mood at Friday night’s prayer vigil for the shooting victims in Aurora was eerily mirrored by the scenic background — a setting sun trying to cast out light from behind a dark cloud. Several hundred local residents congregated across the road from the theater to pray, reflect, light candles or just grieve together. “I feel like I should be here because I was there,” said Kristin Brushel, 16, who was working the concession stand at the time of the crime. Brushel lingered near the back with Nic van der Laan, 18, who was working the box office when he heard shots ring through the building. “It was terrifying. It sounded like fireworks,” van der Laan said. The two teenagers had friends who were in theater 9 but were not injured. “They’re all really shaken. None of them can sleep; most of them can’t eat,” van der Laan said. The theater staff was held for interviewing all night long. Brushel didn’t leave the scene until 5 a.m., and she and van der Laan didn’t return until the 7 p.m. vigil. “I want to show my respects, and I’ll be here again in the morning,” van der Laan said. Holding candles near the front, Chandler Reed, 18, and Lexie Sigler, 18, stood silently. Both were in the theater at the time of the shooting and have a friend who was missing. “They were sitting in a different section from us,” Reed said. “I think he was in the front row,” Sigler said. Kristen Leigh Painter:, 303-954-1628 or

I feel like I should be here because I was there.” Kristin Brushel, 16, who was working the concession stand at the time of the shooting, on a prayer vigil held Friday evening across the street from the movie theater.

aurora» In the early hours of Friday, Children’s Hospital Colorado received word that an ambulance was on its way with a female patient in full cardiac and respiratory arrest. She had three severe injuries to her lower chest and abdomen. A team of at least six attending doctors and residents and five or six nurses were ready in an operating room to work on the woman. The doctors tried to get her

breathing. They worked for more than an hour to resuscitate and repair her injuries, but despite heroic efforts, the patient died, said Dr. Guy Upshaw, emergency room doctor at Children’s Hospital. “It’s very sad, very sad,” Upshaw said. “It was senseless.” But in all but two instances, patients who arrived at hospitals with wounds received at the Aurora theater shootings survived. Similar scenes were played out across Aurora and Denver emergency rooms as staffs geared up, calling doctors, nurses and security staff. Even additional custodians were called in when the chaos began after 12:30 a.m. The injured streamed into six metropolitan Denver emergency rooms in police patrol cars, ambulances and private cars.

“They were literally just showing up at emergency bay,” said Dr. Comilla Sasson, emergency room physician at University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora. Six went to Children’s Hospital; 23 to University Hospital; 15 to Medical Center of Aurora; four to Swedish Medical Center; two to Parker Adventist Hospital; and six to Denver Health Medical Center. Officials at Emergency Medical Services Command were sending patients to hospitals with available rooms and staffs. In each hospital, emergency room doctors set up triage areas. Patients had gunshot injuries from a high-powered rifle, buckshot injuries from a shotgun, shrapnel injuries from flying metal and debris or burns from tear gas. “We were already having a very

busy night,” Sasson said. She and another emergency room doctor triaged nearly two dozen patients. Patients had gun wounds to the head, chest, abdomen and arms and legs. Nine were in critical condition. Six hours after the shootings, one patient was still on the operating table, Sasson said. “This has actually been one of the most horrific nights in my career,” said Sasson, who previously worked on many gunshot cases in Atlanta and Aurora. “This silver lining is that the baby is OK.” She was referring to a 3-monthold injured baby. Sasson said the baby’s parents took her home along with two other patients. Kirk Mitchell: 303-954-1206, or


Tammi Stevens is overcome with emotion as she picks up her son Jacob outside Gateway High School on Friday in Aurora. Jacob survived the shootings at the Century 16 theater in Aurora in which 70 people were shot, 12 fatally. RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post

Rapid response Scores of o∞cers on scene within minutes of report By Jeremy P. Meyer The Denver Post

At exactly 12:39 Friday morning, an Aurora dispatcher calmly put out a call to police units, telling them to head to Century Aurora 16 on a report of a shooting. “They are saying someone is shooting in the auditorium,” the dispatcher said on recordings that have been archived on the website Seconds later, the gravity of the event became clearer. “There is at least one person who has been shot. But they say there are hundreds of people running around,” the dispatcher told officers heading to the scene. Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates at a news conference said officers were in the theater within a minute to 90 seconds of that call and had the suspect, 24-year-old James Eagan Holmes, in custody minutes later. The quick action was yet another example of the dramatic change in tactics since the Columbine High School massacre. Before the April 20, 1999, Columbine attack, police departments across the country wouldn’t allow patrol officers to enter a building where there was an active shooter until SWAT team members or at least backup officers arrived. Today, many departments expect patrol officers to go after an active shooter immediately even if they are alone. The dispatch recordings from Friday morning describe the chaos as Aurora officers swarmed the theater at Aurora Town Center. Officers reported people with gunshot wounds running out of theater 9 and victims lying in front of the cinema. Some of the wounded were escaping in their cars, and others headed into the street to plead for help from road crews. “Get us some gas masks,” said one officer who immediately smelled a chemical odor as he walked into the theater. “I have a party here shot. I need rescue hot,”

Aurora police responded early Friday to the Century 16 movie theater, where a gunman shot moviegoers attending a Batman film premiere. Karl Gehring, The Denver Post said another officer. An officer yelled, “I have seven down in theater 9! Seven down!” Ambulances were on their way, and other officers were ordered to the theater. Ambulances and police officers from around the region converged. An officer called for a marked car behind the theater. “We have a suspect in a gas mask.” At 12:45 a.m., an officer spoke into his radio: “That white car, in the rear of the lot, is that the suspect?”

Another officer responded: “Yes, we have rifles, a gas mask. He’s detained and an open door going into the theater.” “OK. Hold that position. Hold that suspect.” Chaos continued as officers tried to figure out the best way to get ambulances to the scene as victims sobbed in the background. Officers carefully searched the theater, warning to look behind the screens and up in the balcony. One officer pleaded with someone to shut off the film as officers searched the auditorium. Victims were being taken to the north side of the theater. At least one officer drove a victim to the hospital in his car. Another heading into the theater screamed into his radio, “I need as many ambulances as we can to the Dillard’s lot.” And another said: “Get me officers in so we can get movable victims out.” Reports were coming of victims being eviscerated, shot in the neck, shot in the face, shot in the back. At 12:50 a.m., an officer reported: “The suspect is saying he is the only one, but I am getting conflicting information from witnesses.” At about 1:06 a.m., the suspect’s name was aired based on a search of records: “It comes back clear, listed to James Holmes.” Meanwhile, word of the shooting had spread. “I have parents showing up saying they have kids involved who are being transported. Do we have a list of what hospital they are being sent to?” one officer asked. “Sir, we are sending them to any hospital that is available,” the dispatcher said. An ambulance driver said he had transferred seven already to a hospital and heard there were bodies in the theater. “If they are dead, just leave them,” said the dispatcher. “We are in a mass-casualty response.” Staff writer Kirk Mitchell contributed to this report. Jeremy P. Meyer: 303-954-1367, jpmeyer@ or


saturday, july 21, 2012 B B the denver post


Memorials not enough for victims T

here will have to be another memorial. Colorado sheds another tear but cannot shed another bloodbath. While hundreds of law officers and investigators, international media, the governor and other state and local officials, lookie-loos, victims, families and dead bodies were amassed at Aurora Town Center on Friday afternoon, all was quiet on the western front 16 miles away where only a father and his three children stood in bowed-head respect at the Columbine Memorial. “After we heard President Obama talk on the radio about the shootings, it seemed an appropriate time to come here and remember what happened before and think about what happened today,” Chris Conard said. Exactly 13 years and three months after the Columbine High School massacre on April 20, 1999, another massacre occurred at the Century Aurora 16 movie theater complex on July 20, 2012. The 20th day continues to live in abomination in metro Denver.

WOODY PAIGE Denver Post Columnist

The reaction throughout Colorado and the nation was: Oh, no, not again. In the separate tragedies that will be forever linked, at least 25 innocents died and 80 were injured by mass murderers. “Both events were so horrific,” Conard said while he and his two daughters and one son walked amid the plaques that honor the 12 fallen teenagers and a teacher from Columbine. A torrid sun baked the imposing, spreading stone tribute on a hill in Clement Park adjacent to the high school. On a much cooler afternoon 159 months ago, the authorities, the media and the crowds were over on this side of the suburbs crying and asking why.

Then, it was two disturbed, destructive high school boys who turned guns on their fellow students in classrooms and hallways and soon turned the guns on themselves. Now, it is one young man, recently in graduate school, who is alleged to have turned guns on babies, youngsters, teenagers and adults in a movie theater before surrendering to police. “Will there have to be metal detectors at every building, and will they do any good?” Conard asked. “What is going on?” It goes on. As a journalist, I’ve covered Columbine High School, the World Trade Center in New York and Aurora Town Center — all deadly, ghastly and deplorably wrong. You can’t be safe going into a school, an office building or a movie theater. You can’t be safe in Colorado, Virginia, Texas or New York. On Thursday, my daughter texted me to suggest we see the new Batman movie together. We had watched the

first two in this series on screens in Manhattan and Denver. We may just wait until this one comes to home TV. Or not at all. Villains beat heroes too often in real life. I found Aurora Town Center frenetic Friday. School was out at Columbine. A few construction workers in hard hats and a runner in gym shorts were crossing the empty parking lot. Picnickers and bikers shared Clement Park. The nearby Columbine Memorial was dedicated Sept. 21, 2007, as a “place of peace, comfort and reflection.” It was that on Friday in Jefferson County. Over in Aurora, there was none of that. Signed softballs had been left by a team recently. A blue wristband had been deposited on teacher Dave Sanders’ headstone, and T-shirts and flowers were scattered about the names — Matthew Kechter, Rachel Scott, Cassie Bernall, Kyle Velasquez, Daniel Rohrbough, John Tomlin, Corey DePooter, Kelly Fleming, Isa-

iah Shoels, Lauren Townsend, Daniel Mauser, Steven Curnow and Sanders. The names of those who lost their lives in Aurora we don’t yet know. On the memorial floor at Columbine is engraved: “Never forgotten.” I will never forget how a teacher described to me the events in a studyhall classroom when students fled through a door as others hid under desks, and shots were fired, murdering several. We will never, ever forget how the prey in theater No. 9 explained the terror and fear they felt as they tried to run away when the shootings began, and several were targeted and killed. The shock and the sadness are shared. Someday there must be another memorial built. But memorials are not enough for the memories of Columbine and Aurora Town Center. Woody Paige: 303-954-1095, or


A man who said his 6-year-old daughter was killed in the Aurora movie theater shooting is stricken with grief at Children’s Hospital in Aurora on Friday. Law enforcement officials said 12 people were killed and 58 were injured when shots rang out during a premiere showing of the new Batman movie. Craig F. Walker, The Denver Post

Panicked families search for familiar faces after tragedy In the wake of the Aurora shootings, people scour the area for friends and loved ones. By Michael Booth The Denver Post

aurora» Parents flung open the bedroom doors of their teenagers in the middle of the night. Relatives drove by to see if a certain truck was back in the driveway. Boyfriends searched frantically for girlfriends lost in a crowd stampede. The Aurora theater shootings sent a city in search of loved ones after the midnight hour Friday. Couples separated at the theater melee later found relief and tragedy. Parents who had no idea which theater their kids went to woke others for help and called across town. “I started screaming,” said panicked mother Bertha Larios, when her teenage daughter wasn’t home at 6 Friday

morning. She soon arrived, to hugs and reprimands, while Larios’ other children searched for missing friends on Facebook. A cousin of a victim stood behind police tape at the southeast corner of the Town Center mall Friday afternoon, waiting to see if bodies would be removed from the theater. She had been told her cousin would be among the bodies. Victims who had time and energy reached out to family from inside hospitals. Jerry Sahertian, 42, got a call from his close friend Rita Silalahi, who had been shot along with her son, Patrick. Silalahi’s husband shielded them up to a stage under the movie screen and thought they were safe, until they realized the gunman was reloading. In the next round of bullets, Rita was hit in the shoulder, elbow and left side. She had surgery Friday and expected more Saturday but called Sahertian to send word. Son Patrick was struck in the back, and the bullet had lodged in his stomach, Sahertian said. Sahertian had gone near the mall

with two children, all wearing black “out of solidarity” with their friends. Miguel Corral and Darius Jenarey went to Gateway High School to look for friends they heard were at the theater. At 6:30 in the morning, they got word that one of their friends who had been there was OK, but the Aurora Central students had more to look for. “We knew a lot of people there,” Corral said. Dacia Meaux and friends went from hospital to hospital Friday morning, looking for people they knew at the movies. They found bad news and good news about one, Louis Duran, 18. Duran had been shot in the chest with a shotgun. They soon found another friend of theirs, with Duran, who had also been shot. Duran tried to lighten the mood, Meaux said. Duran told people in the hospital that the pellets bounced off his chest because he’s Superman. Staff writers Tom McGhee, Kurtis Lee and Kirk Mitchell contributed to this report.

Where to find help Need help processing the tragedy? Or do you wish to help out financially but are not sure where a donation should go? Here are several resources:, a safe and secure online vehicle of the Community First Foundation, is helping those who wish to find nonprofits that are assisting the victims and the families. “This tragedy has touched us all,” says Marla Williams, president and chief executive of the Community First Foundation. “ provides a quick, secure way to find nonprofits that are assisting the victims and their families of this devastating occurrence — and it allows people to donate to multiple organizations at once.” Gov. John Hickenlooper said Friday evening that within three hours of the website being online, it had already raised $125,000. The featured nonprofits include Aurora Mental Health Center, Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network, Mental Health America of Colorado, Bonfils Blood Center Foundation, Metro Crisis Services Inc., Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance and Denver Center for Crime Victims. A prayer vigil will be held Sunday at 6:30 p.m. at the Aurora Municipal Center, 15151 E. Alameda Parkway. On Sunday, the Thrive with Confidence Foundation is holding an open house at the Thrive Community Recreation Center, 15528 E. Hampden Circle, Aurora. Hours are from 1 to 5 p.m. Children’s Hospital Colorado has opened a family support line, 720-777-2300. Aurora Mental Health Center offers its support by having trained counselors available by phone, 303-617-2300. Joanne Davidson, The Denver Post


Slide shows: More images from the shooting scene, hospitals and more » Live blog: Social media updates on the shooting’s aftermath »


the denver post B B saturday, july 21, 2012

Statements on the Aurora theater shooting “This is not only an act of extreme violence, it is also an act of depravity. It is beyond the power of words to fully express our sorrow this morning. Our prayers and condolences go first to the families of those killed, and we share the grief of everyone affected by this senseless event. We appreciate the swift work by local, state and federal law enforcement. Coloradans have a remarkable ability to support one another in times of crisis. This is one of those times.” Gov. John Hickenlooper

“Sadly, Colorado is once again the location of a tragic and senseless act of violence that will be seared into our collective psyche for years to come. Law enforcement in Colorado has learned lessons from prior tragedies and has responded to this incident quickly, effectively and professionally. However, it is virtually impossible to prevent incidents of this nature. I am confident Colorado law enforcement is doing everything and will do everything within its power to properly investigate this matter and bring the perpetrator of this tragedy to justice. On behalf of all law enforcement in Colorado, our hearts go out to the victims and families and everyone impacted by this horrible crime.” John Suthers, attorney general

“This was a horrible, senseless and abhorrent act. My family and I are shocked and deeply saddened this morning, and our hearts are with the victims and their families. My staff and I are in contact with and offering our support to law enforcement and medical officials as they respond to the shooting.” Sen. Michael Bennet

“I am deeply saddened and outraged by these senseless and tragic shootings. My thoughts go out to the families and friends of those killed, and I am praying for a speedy recovery for those who were wounded. My staff and I are in close contact with officials on the ground and will offer any federal resources needed to investigate this terrible crime and bring those responsible to justice.” Sen. Mark Udall

“My thoughts and prayers go out to all of the victims and their families in this senseless act of violence. I’ve lived in Aurora almost all of my life, and nothing like this has ever happened here. This was the type of violence that I would have expected when I served in Iraq with the U.S. Marine Corps, but never here at home.” Rep. Mike Coffman, Aurora

“I am stunned and furious at the news of the shooting at the Aurora Century 16 movie theater this morning. Our heart and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims of this tragedy. Colorado is not a violent place, but we have some violent people. We are a strong and resilient community, and we will lean on each other in the days, weeks and months to come.”



Issue is far out of sight

Presidential race unlikely to be affected by homicides By Karen E. Crummy The Denver Post

The presidential candidates offered compassion and condolences to the victims’ families, canceled campaign events and pulled ads from Colorado airwaves after the shooting massacre of moviegoers at an Aurora theater. What they did not do was talk about guns. And despite the growing number of mass shootings in the country, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plea Friday morning for them to “stand up” on the issue, it is unlikely that Democratic President Barack Obama or presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney will risk taking on the issue of gun control, political observers say. “They should, but they won’t,” said Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political-science professor. “They will assume their past positions and continue to tell us

how sorry they are for the victims.” The debate over gun regulations has taken a back seat to a host of other issues in the past decade. The federal assault-weapons ban expired in 2004. Even as repeated bouts of gun violence have swept through such places as Columbine High School, Virginia Tech and Tucson in the past 13 years, there have been few changes to gun laws. Additionally, the public’s support for gun-control measures, including handgun and assault-style rifle bans, is at a historic low, a 2011 Gallup poll found. Two decades ago, the poll found, 78 percent of Americans favored stricter gun-control laws. In 2010, the number fell to 44 percent. “It hasn’t been an agenda item for years, mainly because Democrats have chosen not to make it one,” said Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli, noting that gun-control issues hurt the candidacy of Democratic presidential candidates Al Gore and John Kerry. “Politically, it is an is-

sue that doesn’t help them.” Obama White House spokesman Jay Carney indicated Friday that Obama’s position on guns remains, and will remain, unchanged. “The president believes we need to take common-sense measures that protect the Second Amendment rights of Americans while ensuring that those who should not have guns under existing laws do not get them,” he said. Romney, like Obama, temporarily pulled his ads in Colorado and suspended campaigning Friday. Neither he nor his campaign mentioned gun control. Bloomberg, an outspoken supporter of gun control, said on a New York radio show Friday morning that he was fed up with gun violence and demanded that Obama and Romney enter the discussion. “Soothing words are nice, but maybe it’s time that the two people who want to be president of the United States stand up and tell us

what they are going to do about it because this is obviously a problem across the country,” Bloomberg said. However, both candidates have already irked many in their respective party bases with their positions on gun control and have little to gain by entering the fray. As president, Obama has signed a bill permitting guns in national parks and has failed to push for closing the gun-show loophole to require buyers at weekend gun shows to undergo the same background checks required of buyers at federally registered gun shops. While Romney recently told the National Rifle Association that he would not burden lawful gun owners with more restrictions, he raised gun-registration fees and signed an assault-weapons ban in 2004 as governor of Massachusetts. Karen E. Crummy: 303-954-1594, or


Former gov.: Expect to struggle Bill Owens, who was in office during the shootings at Columbine, talks about leading during crises. By Karen E. Crummy The Denver Post

No sleep. A steady stream of hospital visits and funerals. A constant struggle to find the right words for the victims’ families. This is what Gov. John Hickenlooper can expect, says former Colorado Gov. Bill Owens, in office only three months in 1999 when two high-school gunmen killed 13 people at Columbine High School. “It’s gut-wrenching. There’s no training for this,” he said. “You have a responsibility to steel yourself, provide leadership and help heal the wounds, but inwardly you’re crying.” Owens said he didn’t want to discuss any advice he may give to Hickenlooper, if solicited, but said on the day of the Columbine shootings, he spoke to former Govs. Dick Lamm and Roy Romer. Lamm, he said, counseled him to remain focused. “He said, ‘You are the father of Colorado today.’ ” One of the most difficult parts, Owens added, was touring the scene of the massacre. “It’s so hard. You’re in a daze. You’re hurting for the families,” he said. Hickenlooper said of the shoot-

Gov. John Hickenlooper talks to Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates at Town Center at Aurora on Friday. Former governor Bill Owens warns Colorado’s leader that tough days are ahead. Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post ing on Friday: “This is not only an act of extreme violence, it is also an act of depravity. Coloradans have a remarkable ability to support one another in times of crisis. This is one of those times.”

At the time of the Columbine shooting, the state legislature was in session and had a number of bills involving guns on its agenda, including a proposal to allow more concealed weapons. Additionally,

the National Rifle Association’s annual convention was scheduled for the week after the shootings. In light of the tragedy, the proposed bills were tabled, and the NRA scaled back its meeting.


Rep. Ed Perlmutter, Jefferson County

“This morning, our Colorado community has been shaken by an inexplicable and horrific act of violence against so many innocent men, women and children. We are all profoundly saddened by this senseless attack. My family and I join with all Coloradans and those across the country today in praying for the victims and their families and loved ones. While we do not yet know the identities of the victims, … I know that all of us in the Denver-area will offer our support and assistance to those impacted by this shocking tragedy.”

President Barack Obama talks on the phone with Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan during a motorcade Friday in Palm Beach, Fla. The president called Hogan to offer his condolences and support to the community. Pete Souza, The White House

Rep. Diana DeGette, Denver

“The thoughts and prayers of all Coloradans are with the victims of this horrific act of violence in Aurora. I know that all of our neighbors will reach out to offer assistance and condolences to their families and loved ones. … I appreciate the work of local law enforcement officials who have acted swiftly to protect Coloradans from further violence.” Rep. Jared Polis, Boulder

Such violence, such evil is senseless. It’s beyond reason. But while we will never know fully what causes somebody to take the life of another, we do know what makes life worth living. The people we lost in Aurora loved and they were loved.” President Barack Obama

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney makes a statement on the Aurora shootings Friday in Bow, N.H. Both candidates scaled back their campaigning in the wake of the news of the movie theater shootings early Friday. Evan Vucci, The Associated Press

Ann and I are deeply saddened by the news of the senseless violence that took the lives of (12) people in Colorado and injured dozens more. We are praying for the families and loved ones of the victims during this time of deep shock and immense grief.” Mitt Romney, in a statement


saturday, july 21, 2012 B B the denver post




DeAngelis: Tragedy has parallels to Columbine By Kevin Simpson The Denver Post

It wasn’t long after Frank DeAngelis heard the news of the Aurora theater shooting early Friday morning that — sadly and predictably — his phone began to ring. The principal of Columbine High School, the site of what was the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history in 1999, has been a soughtafter source whenever similar violence has flared. On Friday, he fielded calls from around the world. Although there are differences in the circumstances between the Aurora tragedy and the rampage that killed 12 students and a teacher at Columbine, DeAngelis noted parallels between the two incidents. Both attacks appear to have been the result of careful planning and stockpiling of weapons, and produced similar death tolls. Both unfolded in places where many young people were likely to be victims — in places that are so much a part of everyday life that, until something horrible happens, people give little thought to safety. “As a society, we were all violated by what happened last night, just as we were in Columbine ,” DeAngelis said — and as Americans were violated after other shootings and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. “Everybody questioned, geez, is it safe to get on an airplane? I’m sure now, many of these theaters are going to question, ‘What do we do? Do we continue with these midnight screenings or premieres?’ ” And as with Columbine, a issues will emerge and prompt debate. “I think there’ll be a reaction on what to do,” DeAngelis said. “Listening to some of the talk shows already, they’re talking about concealed weapons, should people take the law into their own hands. Anytime a shooting occurs, whether it be at a school or church or a movie theater, these questions come to the surface. What it does, I think, is make members of society realize how vulnerable we are — and how precious life is. “Hopefully, we come together.” On a personal level, DeAngelis noted another heart-wrenching similarity between the shootings. Gateway High School in Aurora became the gathering area and clearinghouse for information on victims and survivors from the theater shootings. During the Columbine attack, Leawood Elementary in Jefferson County served such a role. “That’s one of the lasting memories I have on that evening, when there were no longer buses bringing kids to reunite with parents,” he said. “There were several parents left, but no buses arriving. They realized there was a chance their child did not survive.”

Gwenaviere Doherty, left, and Valerie Donalds pray outside Gateway High School in Aurora, where witnesses were being interviewed by authorities Friday after 12 people were fatally shot at an Aurora movie theater during a premiere showing of the new Batman movie. Craig F. Walker, The Denver Post

“It’s tragic … but it’s isolated” Aurora mayor urges parents to help their children deal with fears after shootings By Suzanne S. Brown The Denver Post

Where to get help Aurora Mental Health Center has 24-hour crisis lines open at 303617-2300. It is also staffing its office around the clock at 11059 E. Bethany Drive, #200 through the weekend for those who want to meet with a counselor . Additional information on coping with trauma is at

“Talk to your kids,” Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan said at a press conference Friday following the movie theater shootings in which a dozen people were killed and many more were injured. “Let them know this is an isolated incident. It’s tragic, it’s horrible, but it’s isolated.” As he points out, young people are dealing with fears and confusion about what happened and how to process it. Organizations such as Aurora Mental Health Center are jumping in to help. The group’s administrative office will be staffed around the clock through the weekend for people who want to drop in and talk with counselors, and staffers are also available by phone 24 hours a day. Keeping the lines of communication open is essential, whether you’re a nonprofit or a parent, says Kathie Snell, deputy director for family services at the mental health center. “The most important thing is to encourage kids to talk,” she says. “Like adults, kids have unique personalities and styles of communication. Some are likely to want to start talking, oth-

ers might be withdrawn.” If they don’t bring up the topic and you want to find out what they’re thinking, “ask what they’ve heard and seen on TV and what they might be afraid of,” she recommends. Most kids wonder, “Could this happen to me? “ Snell says. “What we want to do is reinforce to kids that tragic incidents like this are uncommon. It was random and you’re not able to predict it. Children in their home and school on a daily basis need to know that they are safe,” she says. It’s also important to maintain a routine and not dwell on bad news. “Limit their exposure to TV and pay attention to what they’re watching

and what games they’re playing.” Also observe their sleeping habits and appetite for changes, she says. Response varies greatly by age and developmental stages, according to Snell. “Be aware of new fears that come up or seem more apparent in young children. With younger kids who have been potty-trained, there might be loss of bladder control again or they might be very clingy.” With teenagers it can be distancing behavior. “They’ll become withdrawn or show more risk-taking behaviors,” Snell says. At what point do you need to take a child or teen to a professional for counseling? “Part of it is time,” she says. “If those kind of symptoms continue and get in the way of normal life, it’s something to think about.” She admits that it can be scary for people to ask for help, but just going for an assessment or evaluation can be reassuring. “They’ll find what's a normal reaction.” Indeed, feeling anxiety is typical when an event such as a mass shooting occurs, says Dr. Marianne Z. Wamboldt, chair of the psychiatry department at the University of Colorado Medical School. “Most people will get some acute stress,” she says.

Parents should allow children to express feelings in their own ways and not be judgmental about it, she says. “It’s normal for kids to play out the incident and reenact something like a shooting.” That’s how a child might process what happened, she says. Wamboldt also says not to pressure a young person to talk about the incident if they don’t want to. “Let people select what they want to do,” she says. Similarly, parents are allowed to express their feelings. “They can say, ‘I’m worried,’ or ‘I’m sad, but I can handle it,’ ” she says. Overall, a good coping and healing strategy for families is to come up with something positive they can do, according to Wamboldt. “It might be to reach out to people in their neighborhood or church, to support programs that are helping make their community a safer place, to take more action about gun control. “Just processing your feelings are only going to get you so far,” she says. “Assessing what your skill sets are and what you can do will make your feel much more in control.” Suzanne S. Brown: 303-954-1697, or


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Experts envision stricter measures The movie industry reviews procedures and stirs debate. By Douglas Brown The Denver Post

Walking through metal detectors, handing over bags for inspection and offering identification are not part of the moviegoing experience. Yet. But in the wake of the movietheater shootings in Aurora early Friday morning that killed 12 and injured 59, it is not hard to imagine. And it would be perfectly legal, say experts. “If the theater required everyone to go through 14 different X-ray machines, and there was no evidence it was just for men or for women or people of color, that everyone had to go through them, I can’t think of a reason for that to flunk a constitutional base line,” said Samuel Rascoff, a law professor at New York University who specializes in national-security law. Private enterprises, such as sporting arenas, stores, restaurants and theaters, have constitutional rights to create rules governing entry into, and behavior within, their establishments. “If you want to fly American Airlines, fine. You can purchase a ticket, and here are the rules,” said Rascoff. “You don’t like the rules, don’t fly American Airlines. The first and fourth amendments don’t run against private actors, and the theory under which most of these transactions operate is that they are contracts. If you are in, you accept the rules and regulations the private party you are contracting with requires.” Within hours after the shootings during the midnight premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises,” the third and last installment of a Batman movie trilogy, theater companies began issuing statements that, in addition to expressing grief over the shootings, said they are reviewing security measures. “For the safety and security of our guests and associates, we are actively working with local law enforcement in communities throughout the nation and under the circumstances we are reaching out to all of our theatres to review our safety and security procedures,” said AMC Theatres, in a statement. The movie chain Friday also banned costume-wearing during movies. In another statement, Regal Cinemas said, “The security and safety of our guests and staff is always our number one priority. As is our custom, we will continue to monitor the situation and adjust our security


Video: Raw video of theatergoers escaping, witness interviews, investigators in action and more.

Map: Detailing key locations — the theater, the hospital and the suspect’s apartment. » theatershootings



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needs as necessary.” And the National Association of Theatre Owners said, in a statement: “NATO members are working closely with local law enforcement agencies and reviewing security procedures.” Gun expert and Michigan lawyer Steven Howard predicted theaters “will have to start beefing up fast,” because they are ideal targets for people who want to do a lot of damage. “You are stuck. There is a

clog at the exits, there is a natural choke point, and you have all of these people packed in like sardines and all you have to do is fire into the crowd,” he said. “The next step is to use some sort of firebomb.” Metal detectors, he said, should be the first step. But that wouldn’t have stopped the suspect, James Holmes, who had been pursuing a doctorate in neuroscience at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus before the shooting.

According to accounts, Holmes first entered the theater without his weapons. During the movie, however, he left through the emergency exit, which he propped open, covered himself in body armor, donned a gas mask, armed himself with three firearms and a gas dispenser, and returned. “How do you make a theater that people can get out of in a hurry, that somebody can’t easily get into?” said Howard. “We can lock those doors shut, but

what happens if there is a fire and people need to get out in a hurry? It starts getting really complicated. It’s a mess.” With nothing stopping movie theaters and other businesses from buttressing security, it’s not difficult to imagine “a world in which private entities undertake some pretty pervasive security measures. That would be a real sea change for us, one we would really have to think about,” said Margo Schlanger, a law professor at the

Douglas Brown: 303-954-1395, or

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Villain in comic that inspired movie brings gun to theater By Ryan Parker The Denver Post

A gunman opens fire early in the new Batman film, “The Dark Knight Rises,� but it doesn’t happen in a crowded theater. As people search for answers as to

why suspected gunman James Eagan Holmes, 24, killed 12 people and injured dozens of others during a midnight showing of the new film at the Century Aurora 16, some have pointed to similarities between the comic that inspired the movie and Friday’s tragic

reality. In the comic issue “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, No. 2,� a mentally ill Gotham resident brings a gun to a movie theater. Also, Bane, the villain in the new Batman film, wears body armor and a

mask, although not specifically for toxic gases. Witnesses in the theater early Friday said the actual shooting happened at the exact moment there was gunfire in the film, which occurs within the first few minutes.

“Since the real shooting happened at the same time, I just figured it was a stunt or someone brought fireworks in,� said Saline Jordan, 19. Jordan was watching the film in theater No. 8 when bullets fired in theater No. 9 pierced the walls and struck people around her, she said. “I don’t think I could ever be that scared again in my whole life,� she said.

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Buick’s beautiful sleeper.. Today’s undiscovered bargain in a full-size premium sedan by B. Debel

AUROR A, CO - As with any bargain, you’ll most often find it on the road less traveled. Today, that road leads to Suss Buick GMC, and the bargain is on a used 2011 Buick Lucerne, priced from $22,981 with NO added dealer handling fees, thousands back from the original MSRP of $33,895. If you’re in the market for a full-size premium sedan, go see the Lucerne and take it out for a test drive. You’ll want one‌ not only because you like the price, but because you like the car. It’s understandable how this beautiful sedan had slipped through the cracks. Having limited production numbers,

and with the last to roll off the assembly line on June 15, 2011, it had minimal buyer exposure. Although Buick has long remained near the top of the charts in terms of quality and durability, it seems few have paid attention. Stuck with the impression of being poorly built by younger Americans, Buick has put forth great effort creating a brand that is worthy of praise. Even the Chinese have embraced the brand, marking Buick as a luxury line and making it one of the most sought after vehicles in their culture. However, Buick still has a hill to climb, pegged with the image of an “old person’s car,� fewer shoppers are visiting Buick showrooms these days,

unaware that Buick is now in a new era and on a quest to reclaim a spot as the premium brand. Visually seductive, this stately Buick beats all other large sedan offerings hands down in terms of styling, quality and value, for under the Lucerne’s beautiful wrappings lies the same solid platform as Cadillac’s magnificent DTS. But from there up it’s every-inch-a-Buick, looking distinctively different than any other GM product. And many will tell you that the Lucerne is a better driving car than the Cadillac, which is a result of Buick’s relentless pursuit to isolate the passenger cabin from the outside world by blocking noise paths at

their source through the use of extensive dampening and insulation. Even the windshield and front side glass have a special layer of laminate to help absorb road noise. Buick touts this as t h e i r exc l u s i ve “Quiet Tuning�, which sounds like just another marketing hype, but you have to experience it to appreciate it. It’s a drive in the clouds. The Lucerne glistens with a level of quality that will blow you away, from its close-tolerance body panels and interior trim pieces to its buttery, finelystitched leather. Although the Lucerne is a big car, there’s nothing big about the way it drives. The handling is crisp and nimble, the braking sure. It’s an absolute delight to drive as it graciously accepts all orders from its captain. With a change from the 3.8liter V6 on the 2008 model, the 2011 is powered by GM’s highly acclaimed 3.9-liter V6. Pumping out a desirable 227 horsepower, it delivers acceleration and performance that will satisfy most drivers and earns a respectable 27 mpg highway economy rating under the more stringent and conservative EPA guidelines. These CXL models come well equipped with heated leather


bucket seats, and a console shift. Standard features include, 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS, Traction Control, driver and passenger head-curtain sideimpact airbags, a tire pressure monitoring system, a leatherwrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, Home-link, and GM’s OnStar, a comforting travel companion to have aboard on long trips and the most user-friendly navigation system on the planet. Push the Blue button and simply speak your destination, even if you’re lost. A satellite pinpoints your location and a friendly voice guides you with turn-by-turn directions until you get there. Buyers will also enjoy the lion’s share remainder of a 4yr/50,000mile bumper-to-bumper warranty that extends to 5 years and 100,000 miles on the power train. This comprehensive warranty is the best out there amongst premium brands. “With vehicles

lasting m u c h longer than they did in the past, folks tend to get their money’s worth with this wa r r a nt y,â€? explains Fred Jadidian, a 20 year veteran at Suss. “When you compare other luxury models and the warranty they offer, people will definitely see the savings.â€? Now is the time to re-introduce yourself to the won’t-let-youdown Buick‌ And leave all preconceptions you may have at the door. A little wheel time in this premium luxury liner will convince you that maybe you really would rather drive a Buick. Where to find: Suss Buick GMC in Aurora of fers a nice selection of Pre-owned 2011 Lucerne’s in a variety of colors at a starting price of $22,981 with NO dealer handling fees. And trades are always welcomed. Suss Buick GMC is located at 1301 South Havana in Aurora. Sales may be reached 303-306-4001 ŠB. Debel 2012 Photo for illustration only #C4301


saturday, july 21, 2012 B B the denver post



Outlets compete for speed, accuracy Reports via social media — and ABC — turned out to be premature and wrong. By Joanne Ostrow Denver Post Television Critic

National and local media converged on Aurora on Friday to bring the latest national horror into focus: Relegated to pictures of a theater exterior, reporters scrambled to piece together eyewitness accounts of a mass shooting. By midmorning, FBI and police officials told reporters of the suspect’s “boobytrapped apartment,” which “looks pretty sophisticated.” Word of an impending detonation, and live pictures of firemen bashing in the third-floor windows of the suspect’s apartment, filled the screen. One among the many lingering images: an overturned popcorn container, replayed endlessly on Fox31. Network news teams scrambled to report from Denver. The evening newscasts, “Today,” “48 Hours,” “Dateline,” Anderson Cooper and others immediately mobilized to be on the scene Friday evening. E-mail, Twitter and Facebook played an increased role, as victims bypassed traditional media to tell their own stories. Broadcasters at times read the latest information off the Internet. The prevalence of unconfirmed reports in cyberspace prompted Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates to issue “a caution about social media.” He asked journalists to be “responsible.” “I can tell you, we are already finding there are a lot of pranks” and misinformation online, Oates said. Speaking in Florida, President Barack Obama shared the feeling going through many Americans’ minds: “My two daughters go to the movies.” The media went through their too-familiar paces, from the front lawn of the suspect’s parents’ San Diego home to reg-

ular briefings from officials, who dutifully spelled their names on camera. Heartbreaking calls from distraught parents to local TV stations, unable to locate their children, were broadcast on the air. Information trickled out slowly regarding the suspect’s mention of the Joker and similarities to a Batman comic (a topic on KHOW Radio). Measured tones and careful framing of visuals marked the media reporting, with only rare glimpses of a trail of blood on the ground. After overnight images of bloodied victims were broadcast and uploaded to social media, the morning gave way to exterior shots of the crime scene, hospitals and the police command center. For the most part, Denver anchors left it to eyewitnesses to express the emotionally charged despair, anger and bewilderment many felt. Much information regarding the gunman surfaced first on Twitter and only later on TV. Kyle Clark of 9News was among the best at explaining the ground rules of TV coverage to viewers. “This is not a foot race,” he said. The station would broadcast details such as names of those injured only when they were adequately confirmed to avoid having to “walk it back.” The day’s worst media over-

“Now we don’t know if this is the same Jim Holmes,” Ross said, “but it is a Jim Holmes of Aurora, CO.” ABC News later issued a clarification: Different Jim Holmes. KMGH-Channel 7 broke the news that Holmes allegedly had

reach: ABC News’ Brian Ross suggested that the suspect, James Eagan Holmes, might be affiliated with the Colorado Tea Party, based on a mention on that group’s website of an Aurora man with the name “Jim Holmes.”

planned the act meticulously and even took a seat in the audience. He allegedly bought a ticket, sat in the theater for 15 minutes, got up, propped open the emergency door, brought his car around and commenced shooting.

ABC News broke the story that the suspect told authorities after the shootings that he “was the Joker.” Joanne Ostrow: 303-954-1830, or

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Big names tweet, post condolences By Lisa Kennedy Denver Post Film Critic

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Those in the entertainment business weighed in on Friday’s shootings at the Century 16 theater in Aurora, which was screening the premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises.” Many of them seized social media to express their condolences, among them Justin Timberlake, Alyssa Milano and Rihanna. Former Denver Nugget Carmelo Anthony tweeted “Just got to Barcelona and heard about what’s going on in Colorado. Praying for all those families.” No stranger to the midnightmovie phenomenon, “Harry Potter” actor Alan Rickman tweeted, “Sometimes, this world can truly be a horrifying place. They just wanted to see a movie.” Later Rickman added, “It’s important to recognize that there are evils in this world. But there is also good, and good always triumphs over evil in the end.” On his website, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore posted this statement: “Having spent much time in the Aurora/ Denver/Littleton area over the years, I am too sad about this most recent tragedy to comment at the moment, other than to say this: I fear anthropologists and historians will look back on us and simply say we were a violent nation, at home and abroad, but in due time human decency won out and the violence ceased, but not before many, many more died and the world had had its fill of us.”

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Voice of the Rocky Mountain Empire

sunny E99° F66° »7B B JULY 22, 2012 B B © the denver post B $1.50 price may vary outside metro denver



Updates: The latest news, photo galleries, video, maps and more. »


“EVERYBODY IS HURTING” By Karen Augé The Denver Post


ll across the country Thursday night, thousands of people put on capes and costumes, rounded up friends and family and raced off to experience a celluloid fantasy about a tortured hero who devotes his life to fighting evil. Inside an Aurora theater, though, the greatest evil wasn’t on the screen. It came instead in the form of a man who swaddled himself in a cocoon of armor before taking aim at a theater full of unprotected teenagers, moms and dads, and little kids. When the shooting in theater 9 early Friday stopped, 24-year-old James Eagan Holmes was in handcuffs, and 70 people were wounded. Twelve of them died. As their names trickled out over the past two days, in friends’ social media tributes, in anguished families’ pleas for information and, finally, Saturday afternoon, in an official list, portraits emerged of the lives they had lived, and would have lived. Of the 12, the youngest was 6, the oldest 51. Nearly all those in between were young adults, old enough to be crafting careers, serving in the military, raising families but young enough to get a thrill out of being first to see the summer blockbuster — and energetic enough to do it at midnight. One was two days shy of his first anniversary, one a single mother. One of them had just earned his master’s degree and wanted to be a counselor. They had all gone out for a night of fun, but more than one died trying to save someone else. The greatest heroes weren’t on the screen.


Was fatally shot after pushing his girlfriend out of harm’s way. »15A


A “loving 18-year-old young man with a warm and loving heart.” »14A


“A redhead through and through, she was a ball of energy and fire.” »15A


“We love you, John, and we will miss you always,” the family said. »14A


Killed shielding his girlfriend, Samantha Yowler, from gunfire. »14A


“I’m a simple, independent girl who’s just trying to get her life together.” »15A


“She loved to dress up and read and was doing well in school.” »14A


FRIGHTENED MAN PUT FEAR ASIDE TO HELP OTHERS “A young woman seemed in shock down on the floor in one row. She was incoherent and screaming. I stopped, picked her up and took her out the door. Later on, she came over and hugged me. I’m no hero. I was just trying to help somebody.” »17A

“Alex was smart, funny and above all loved dearly.” »14A



“The world isn’t as good a place without him.” »15A


Politics. The rampage injects


a new tone into the presidential campaign as Obama and Romney take a break. »27A

Mother of two “was a gentle, sweet, beautiful soul.” »16A

Complete coverage 14-27A Additional profiles of Jesse Childress »16A | Gordon Cowden »16A

INS I D E Books » 8-9E | Crosswords » 14E | Lottery » 2B | Movies » 5E | Obituaries » 4-6B | Paper Trails » 12E | Your Money » 4-5K


Apartment rigged with deadly traps By Karen E. Crummy and Jordan Steffen The Denver Post

Suspected gunman James Eagan Holmes planned an Aurora movie-theater massacre with “calculation and deliberation,” Aurora’s police chief said Saturday, arming himself with ammunition delivered to his home and school over a period of months. That ammunition, was used to kill and injure 70 people and booby-trap his apartment so as “to kill anyone who entered it,” Chief Dan Oates said. As the names were released of the 12 people who died after being blinded by gas and methodically gunned down Friday, President Barack Obama announced he would visit Colorado on Sunday to speak to families of the victims. He vowed to bring “whoever’s responsible for this heinous crime to justice.” Authorities, using a robot to set off a controlled detonation in Holmes’ apartment, disabled the most threatening of 30 softball-size improvised explosive devices, rigged in such an intricate network that a veteran FBI special agent characterized it as “sophisticated” and “complex.” Oates said the explosives found in the north Aurora apartment were directly aimed at his officers, who were likely to walk through the door first. SHOOTING » 18A

President to visit President Barack Obama will be in Colorado today to visit with the families of the victims of Friday’s shooting, a White House official said. Obama also will meet with Aurora and state officials.


After another gun rampage: Why Colorado? By William Porter The Denver Post

The mass shooting at an Aurora movie theater that killed 12 people and wounded dozens early Friday has a sickening familiarity. In the wake of other murderous outbursts in this state, from the Columbine massacre in 1999 to the New Life Church shootings in 2007, people are left asking — here and nationally — why Colorado? It is a compelling question with no easy answer. Our state does not seem burdened with onerous national stereotypes that have saddled other states such as Arizona (reactionaries), California (weirdness) and New Jersey (corruption). If anything, there is an image of Colorado as a haven for chilled-out mellowness amid sunshine and gorgeous scenery. Gov. John Hickenlooper went before the cameras Saturday to call the shootings the act of an “unspeakably troubled individual.” “There’s no way we can turn the clock back, but we can take this abhorrent, inconceivable event and do everything we can to make it better,” he said. But three massacres in a 13-year span raise unsettling thoughts about why this has happened here. WHY » 24A


Midnight massacre sunday, july 22, 2012 B B the denver post




“A warm and loving heart”

Sailor was an “outstanding shipmate” Navy officials confirmed Saturday that Petty Officer 3rd Class John Thomas Larimer was among those killed in the attack at an Aurora movie theater early Friday. Larimer, 27, joined the Navy in June 2011 and was a cryptologic technician 3rd class. For the past year, he had been stationed at the U.S. Fleet Cyber Command station at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora. “I am incredibly saddened by the loss of Petty Officer John Larimer,” Cmdr. Jeffrey Jakuboski, Larimer’s commanding officer, said in a statement. “He was an outstanding shipmate. A valued member of our Navy team, he will be missed by all who knew him. “My heart goes out to John’s family, friends and loved ones, as well as to all victims of this horrible tragedy.” Larimer was from Crystal Lake, Ill., a suburb of Chicago. His parents released a statement saying Navy officials notified them that their son was one of the 12 killed in the shootings at the Century Aurora 16. “At this point our other son, Noel, is in Denver working with the Navy and the family here in Illinois to make arrangements to bring John home,” the statement said. “We respectfully ask that the family and friends of John be allowed time and privacy to grieve for John, and we send our thoughts and prayers out to the families of the other victims and those still recovering in the hospital. We love you, John, and we will miss you always.” According to the Navy, another sailor was treated and released after suffering injuries at the theater. A family member told the Daily Herald newspaper that Larimer was the youngest of five siblings. He was a 2003 graduate of Crystal Lake South High School and trained at the Great Lakes Naval Academy. Julie Gates, a neighbor in Crystal Lake, described Larimer as a man with a good sense of humor who took time to stop and buy lemonade from her daughter’s lemonade stand.

His name was Alexander Boik, but to the hundreds who stood on the Gateway High School football field to remember him Saturday, he was AJ. In a statement issued earlier Saturday, his family called Boik a young man with “a warm and loving heart.” In the twilight on Saturday, surrounded by people holding purple balloons, friends recalled a guy who made people laugh, who loved softball and who loved movies so much he never missed a premiere. “He was the life of the party. AJ could bring a smile to anybody’s face,” said one of a dozen speakers who paid tribute to their friend outside the high school Boik graduated from just two months ago. The young man, who declined to give his name, said he had known Boik since they were freshmen at Gateway. His girlfriend, whom friends identified as Lasamoa Cross, surprised everyone by saying she and AJ were secretly engaged. “We were crazy in love. We had big plans. We were going to have everything,” she said. “We are still going to have everything because he’s still here. AJ lives” (in everyone who knew and loved him),” she said. Boik’s plans included attending Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in the fall. His family said his

dream was to become an art teacher and open his own studio. “AJ was loved by all that knew him,” his family said. “We want to try and focus on the beautiful lives that were ended and not the evil that is re-

sponsible. This is a time for us to remember our loved ones and cherish the memories we have of them.” The family asked that their privacy be respected. “We are trying to move through

this horrible ordeal,” the family said. “Our thoughts, prayers and love go out to the other families of the victims and all those who have been touched by this senseless tragedy.”


First wedding anniversary would have been Sunday Sometime late Thursday, Alex Sullivan posted on his Facebook page: “#TheDarkKnightRises OMG COUNTING down till it start cant wait going to be the best birthday ever.” Sullivan died on his 27th birthday. He and co-workers from a Red Robin restaurant had gone to the premiere. Sullivan was killed, and seven co-workers were injured. Sunday would have been Sullivan’s one-year wedding anniversary. Recently, he wrote on his Facebook page: “Just took the wife to DIA going to be gone for 3 and a half weeks going to miss her a lot. I love you cassie.” Cassandra Sullivan returned home Wednesday. The morning of the shooting, Alex Sullivan’s father, Tom, showed

his picture around and asked if anybody had seen his son, an image that reminded some of 9/11 and grieving people amid that tragedy. Friends on Saturday talked about the big-hearted, good-humored guy they knew. Derek Smith, who worked with Sullivan at Red Robin on South Havana Street, said the two were movie buffs. “In ‘Animal House,’ there’s a part when they go to the bar and one of the guys screams across the bar, ‘Hey, Otis!’ ” Smith said. “When I walked in, it was always, ‘Hey, Otis!’ No one knew what it meant, but because we’re both into movies we got a kick out of it. “Ah, man, I’m going to miss that dude, I really am,” Smith said, his eyes welling with tears. Bryan Beard first met Sullivan

during their freshman year at Grandview High School. “We just clicked,” Beard said. “We’re both big guys, and big guys stick together.” Beard said Sullivan stood 6 feet 4 inches and weighed about 280 pounds. He played football and wrestled before graduating from high school in 2003 and later going to culinary school, Beard said. Maneka Singh, another high school friend, said Sullivan was “always smiling and the type of guy who had too many friends and loved them all.” “I’m just trying in a way to make sense of all of this. I don’t know that you can really even do that,” she said. “Why a movie theater? Why so many innocent people?”

M AT T M c Q U I N N


Ohio native protected his girlfriend

6-year-old just learned to swim, “loved to dress up and read”

Matt McQuinn died protecting his girlfriend. As a gunman calmly walked up the aisle of an Aurora movie theater Friday firing at moviegoers, the 27-yearold Ohio native dived on top of Samantha Yowler. Her brother Nick, 32, also tried to shield her, said Robert L. Scott, attorney for the McQuinn and Yowler families. Samantha Yowler, 27, was shot in the knee. Her brother escaped without injury. But McQuinn, from St. Paris, Ohio, was not as fortunate. McQuinn’s mother, Jeri Jackson, flew to Colorado on Friday as family members in Springfield tried to get information about what happened to McQuinn, according to the Dayton Daily News. McQuinn’s stepmother, Stacie McQuinn, said the hospital would not tell Yowler, who underwent surgery Friday, about her boyfriend’s condition because the two were not related.

Matt McQuinn graduated from Vandalia-Butler High School in 2004. He met Yowler while the two were working at a Target store in Springfield, the Dayton Daily News

reported. In November, the couple transferred to a Target store in Denver, joining Yowler’s brother, who had lived in Colorado for the past few years.

Veronica Moser-Sullivan will always be 6 years old. The “vibrant, excitable,” blondhaired, blue-eyed little girl, who was bragging five days ago about learning how to swim, was one of the 12 people killed in the Aurora theater shooting Friday, said her great-aunt Annie Dalton. “She loved to dress up and read and was doing well at school. She was beautiful and innocent,” Dalton said of Veronica, who attended Holly Ridge Elementary School in Denver. “It’s a nightmare right now.” Veronica’s mother, Ashley Moser, remains in critical condition at Aurora Medical Center. The 25-year-old was shot in the neck, and doctors have been unable to remove the bullet. She also suffered a gunshot wound in the abdomen. Moser passes in and out of consciousness, asking about her daughter,

Dalton said, and does not yet know that Veronica died. Moser, who was recently accepted to medical school, might recover with some use of her hands. “They expect her to have some paralysis but don’t know how extensive it will be,” Dalton said. Veronica was a comfort to her grandfather, who died two months ago after suffering from a terminal illness over the previous year. “We were just rebuilding our family,” Dalton said.


the denver post B B

sunday, july 22, 2012

Midnight massacre «15A


Shielded girlfriend, saved her life For Jansen Young, 21, the two constants during the movie-theatre massacre that ended 12 lives were the sound of gunshots and the feeling of her boyfriend Jon Blunk’s hands on her back. Blunk, 26, was shot to death while protecting Young, according to NBC News. Young declined to discuss details of the shooting with The Denver Post, saying she was “trying to work through it.” When asked whether Blunk had shielded her from gunfire, she replied: “Yes, he did.” Young told NBC News that when the shooter started his attack, Blunk knew to throw her to the floor. On the movie-theater floor, Blunk kept pushing her with his arms as she heard shots being fired. She eventually noticed that he had stopped pushing her under the seat, but she didn’t think he had been killed. “I guess I didn’t really know he had passed, up until I started shaking him and saying, ‘Jon, Jon, we have to go. … It’s time for us to get out of here,’ ” she said, her voice trembling. Young said she tried to get up and lift Blunk by the shoulder but he didn’t move. The couple had been dating since October, she told NBC. Blunk’s estranged wife, Chantel Blunk, who lives in Reno, Nev., with their two children — a 4-year-old girl and a 2-year-old boy — told NBC News that she was notified of his death by the FBI. “He always talked about if he were going to die, he wanted to die a hero,” she said. Jon Blunk went to Proctor Hug High School in Reno, where he and Chantel met. After his 2004 high school graduation, he enlisted in the Navy and

served aboard the USS Nimitz in San Diego. Blunk left the Navy, separated from

his wife and moved to Colorado in 2009. He had been working at a hardware store at the time of the theater

shooting. Chantel Blunk told NBC that she plans to bury her husband with mili-

tary honors in Reno. She set up a Wells Fargo account to raise funds for his funeral.



Recent master’s graduate a fan of Arizona, Spider-Man

“She wanted to help”

Shooting victim Alexander Teves recently earned his master’s degree in counseling psychology from the University of Denver. Tom Teves, Alexander’s father, confirmed his son’s death to ABC News. A message left for Tom Teves by the Denver Post has not been returned. Friends of Teves, 24, began posting on social media Friday night after learning Teves was among the 12 people killed in the Aurora movie theater shootings. A friend, identified only as Caitlin on Twitter, posted messages on the social media network early Friday from the Century Aurora 16 theater, and wrote on Twitter early Saturday that Teves was, “One of the best men I ever knew. The world isn’t as good a place without him.” She also described Teves as a fan of the University of Arizona and Spider-Man. An e-mail message to Caitlin has not been returned. A University of Denver spokeswoman said Teves, from Phoenix, graduated in June. The University officially notified its students and faculty of Teves’ death Saturday afternoon.

The University released the following statement: “The University extends its deepest condolences to his family and friends, including the many current students and faculty who knew and worked with Alex.” Teves’ personal Facebook page lists him as a 2010 graduate of the University of Arizona, and a 2006 graduate of Desert Vista High School in Phoenix.

Jessica Ghawi grew up a hockey fan in football-crazed Texas. She followed that passion to Colorado to forge a career in sports journalism. It probably took her to Toronto, where just weeks ago, she walked out of a shopping-mall food court moments before a gunman shot seven people. Writing as Jessica Redfield in a June 5 blog entry, the 24-year-old described how the experience reminded her “how blessed I am for each second I am given.” Early Friday in Aurora, Ghawi did not escape the gunfire. Jessica Ghawi paid the bills by working as a waitress until she was laid off recently, said

Adrian Dater, who covers the Colorado Avalanche for The Denver Post. But her goal was to earn a living as a sports journalist. When fire destroyed the homes of so many in Colorado last month, Ghawi decided to start collecting donated hockey equipment for kids. “She wanted to help. That’s the type of heart she had,” her brother, Jordan Ghawi, told 9News. Late Thursday night, as she waited for the show to start in sold-out theater 9, she tweeted her excitement and impatience, and ribbed friends who weren’t there. “MOVIE DOESN’T START FOR 20 MINUTES,” she tweeted before midnight. It was her last message.


Hinkley grad was “trying to get life together”

The following staff writers contributed to this report Karen Augé, Lynn Bartels, Karen E. Crummy, Lindsay H. Jones, Patrick Saunders, Jordan Steffen, Erin Udell

Everyone knew her as Cayla. Micayla Medek, 23, worked as a Subway “sandwich artist” — “I do everything lol,” she said on her Facebook page. A graduate of William C. Hinkley High School in Aurora, Medek took classes at Community College of Aurora through last fall. “I’m a simple independent girl who’s just trying to get her life to-

gether while still having fun,” she wrote on Facebook. She attended the midnight showing of the new Batman movie with friends and was wounded, family members told the Los Angeles Times. Nearly 20 hours passed before authorities confirmed to the family that she was one of the 12 killed in the shooting.


News sunday, july 22, 2012 B B the denver post



Slain father “loved life” Gordon W. Cowden, 51, of Aurora was the oldest of the victims killed in the theater. His family released this statement: “Loving father, outdoorsman and small business owner, Cowden was a true Texas gentleman that loved life and his family. A quick witted world traveler with a keen sense of humor, he will be remembered for his devotion to his children and for always

trying his best to do the right thing, no matter the obstacle.” Cowden had taken his two teenage children to the theater the night of the shooting. The teenagers escaped unharmed. A spokeswoman said the family “wishes to express appreciation for the concern and prayers offered us during this very difficult time. Our hearts go out to everyone that has

been harmed by this senseless tragedy. “The family respectively requests privacy as we cope with the loss of our loved one. Thank you for understanding that we will not be granting interviews or speaking to members of the media. Again, our thoughts and prayers are with all who are suffering due to this tragic event.”

Mom of two “lost … to a mad man”


“A great man” to his Air Force colleagues Nearly every day of the week, Jesse Childress spent his evenings playing sports with friends. Monday it was softball. Tuesday it was bowling. Another night, it was flag football. He trained for a Tough Mudder race, which he completed last month with nearly 30 other Air Force airmen from Buckley Air Force Base. Childress, who served in the Army before joining the Air Force Reserves, loved the obstacles, but hated the running. “Jesse was really big into sports,” said Alejando Sanchez, a friend and fellow member of the Air Force Reserves stationed at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora. In the fall, Childress, 29, spent his Sundays cheering for the Broncos — he had season tickets, and would wear his No. 92 Elvis Dumervil jersey — and throughout the winter and spring, he watched his beloved Los

Slide shows:

Angeles Kings and Los Angeles Clippers. Childress, whose parents live in Palmdale, Calif., dreamed of visiting every Division I football stadium. But Childress was also a “big nerd,” his friend Kevin Thao said, in the most endearing way possible, because of Childress’ love of comics and superhero movies. Childress had recently purchased a new black Scion, a car he nicknamed the “Batmobile.” Thao and Sanchez had tickets to “The Dark Knight Rises” in theater 8, and tried to convince Childress to sneak in from theater 9 to join them. Childress declined in order to stay with another friend. Thao said Childress was fatally wounded when he dove in front of the friend, a female Air Force member from Buckley. “He would have done that,” Thao

said Saturday evening at the makeshift memorial erected across the street from the Century 16 theater. Sanchez and Thao gave their witness statements to the police, and then spent nearly 90 minutes wandering around the parking lot looking for Childress. “We were all calling the hospitals, the police department,” Sanchez said. “Almost every hour, to every hospital in this area.” Three other Air Force colleagues traveled from the Air Force Base earlier in the afternoon to honor Childress. Two women and a man, all in their Air Force uniforms, placed flowers at the memorial and then straightened the Air Force flag that was already in place. The male Airman, who declined to give his name, then turned to face the crowd of mourners.

“We lost a great man, you guys,” he said. Childress lived in Thornton, and was one of two military members stationed at Buckley killed in the shooting. The other was John Larimer, a sailor in the U.S. Navy. Another airman and another sailor were injured. According to the Air Force Reserve Command, Childress worked as a cyber systems operator and was on active duty orders in the 310th Force Support Squadron. His friends said Childress worked with the base’s computer systems. “He was a huge part of our unit, and this is a terrible loss. The person that did this was an incredible coward,” Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Schwald said Saturday at the memorial site. She declined to give her first name.

The father of Rebecca Wingo, 32, confirmed that his daughter died in the Aurora theater shootings in a post on his Facebook page. Steve Hernandez wrote, “I lost my daughter yesterday to a mad man, my grief right now is inconsolable, I hear she died instantly, without pain, however the pain is unbearable.” Friends said Saturday that Wingo’s parents also posted a message about her death on Wingo’s Facebook page. That page shows a picture of two young girls. A friend, Gail Riffle, brought two teddy bears, one pink and one white, to the memorial site near the CenturyAurora 16 theater for Wingo’s daughters, as well as roses for Wingo’s parents. “Everybody is hurting right now,” Riffle said. “She was a gentle, sweet, beautiful soul.” Wingo listed Joe’s Crab Shack as her employer on Facebook, and a manager at the restaurant in Aurora confirmed that Wingo worked there. He deferred comment to the restaurant’s corporate office, which was closed Saturday. Wingo had been enrolled at the Community College of Aurora since fall 2009 and had been working toward an associate of arts degree.



eople honoring Alexander “AJ” Boik comfort one another Saturday evening at Gateway High School before a vigil in his name. Attendees dressed in his favorite color and released purple balloons. Boik, who graduated from Gateway this year, was one of the 12 people killed in the Aurora theater massacre.

Additional images from the shooting scene, hospitals and more. » mediacenter

Video: Raw video of theatergoers escaping, witness interviews, investigators in action and more.

Heather Rousseau, The Denver Post

» theatershooting

Map: Detailing key

Where to find help

locations — the theater, hospitals and the suspect’s apartment.

Need help processing the tragedy? Or do you wish to help out financially but are not sure where a donation should go? Here are several resources:, a safe and secure online vehicle of the Community First Foundation, is helping those who wish to find nonprofits that are assisting the victims and the families. The featured nonprofits include Aurora Mental Health Center, Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network, Mental Health America of Colorado, Bonfils Blood Center Foundation, Metro Crisis Services Inc., Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance and Denver Center for Crime Victims.

» theatershootings

Prayer vigil on Sunday. There will be prayer vigil beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Aurora Municipal Center, 15151 E. Alameda Parkway in Aurora. Those who attend are asked to gather on the western steps of the building.

On Sunday, the Thrive with Confidence Foundation is holding an open house at the Thrive Community Recreation Center, 15528 E. Hampden Circle, Aurora. Hours are from 1 to 5 p.m. Children’s Hospital Colorado has opened a family support line, 720-777-2300. Aurora Mental Health Center offers its support by having trained counselors available by phone, 303-617-2300. Joanne Davidson, The Denver Post

How the shooting saga unfolded At 12:41 a.m. Friday, a man authorities say was James Eagan Holmes opened fire inside theater 9 at the Century Aurora 16 at the Town Center of Aurora mall. He was armed with a handgun, an assault-style rifle and a shotgun, and was dressed in black with body armor and a gas mask. Bullets and shrapnel hit nearly all of the 70 people, killing 12. Police arrived within 90 seconds, and 5 minutes after the shooting, they arrested Holmes on the Memorial for shooting victims at the corner of East Centrepoint Drive and South Sable Boulevard in Aurora on Saturday. Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post

south side of the theater. At 1:40 a.m., police called for bomb-sniffing dogs after confirming Holmes’ apartment at 1590 Paris St. was booby-trapped to explode. Saturday, bomb crews disabled a trip device and relocated 30 improvised explosive devices to a field east of Aurora, where they burned the material with diesel fuel. Joey Bunch, The Denver Post


the denver post B B

sunday, july 22, 2012

Midnight massacre «17A

Five friends fortunate to still be together D

evon Suits eagerly anticipated seeing “The Dark Knight Rises’’ for a year. Now, “I never want to see it again. No, no, never. I don’t ever want to go back to a movie theater. It’s not that I’m afraid. I don’t want to relive the horror in my mind.’’ Instead, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound Suits will look forward to reporting next month, as a freshman, to Western State to play college football on scholarship and enjoy that “I’m alive. My best friend since fourth grade, Ryan (Lumba), and God saved my life, so I’m going to cherish every day. That’s enough for me.’’ Five young men who are friends bought their tickets at 3:30 Thursday afternoon for the 12:05 a.m. showing in the Century 16 theater complex at Aurora Town Center. “We wanted to go to the 12:01 movie, but it was sold out, and all that was left was the next one in theater 9. Bad luck.’’ When he left home that evening, Devon’s mother, Eileen, warned: “You be careful at that movie theater.’’ The smart, sharp, thoughtful Devon, 18, hadn’t talked the first day about the tragic event. But, Saturday afternoon, he agreed that a conversa-


WOODY PAIGE Denver Post Columnist

tion would be cathartic. The five friends arrived about 9:30 p.m. Thursday and stood in line until the theater opened its doors at 10. Devon, Ryan, Louis Duran, Nick Droege and Phil Hargrove quickly grabbed prime seats about halfway up on the right side. Most of the ticket-holders were “young, and there were a few families, a typical crowd for this kind of movie,’’ Devon said. As the previews began, “everybody got kind of rowdy. I heard later that the shooter bought a ticket and was sitting in the theater, but I don’t remember seeing him. If he had on that (protective) clothing, nobody would notice. A lot of people were wearing ‘Batman’ and ‘Catwoman’ gear. It’s not usual at midnight shows. “When the movie started, the whole place became very quiet. No cellphones or talking. About five

minutes into the movie, what looked like a balloon with escaping air floated across in front of the screen. I thought somebody was playing a joke that wasn’t funny. “That was the tear gas (canisters.) My eyes began burning. There was smoke, and the flashes and bullets flying, screaming, and it was surreal. Everybody was freaking out. I didn’t even know that the movie kept playing. I thought there were two gunmen — the one throwing the gas and the other shooting. I lost it. I just sat there not knowing what to do. I’ve played hundreds of (action) video games, and this was no comparison. There was a gunfight early in the movie, but the real noise was a lot louder and the flashes so much brighter. “Ryan grabbed me and threw me down under the seat. That saved me. I could look through the crack between the seats at someone in glasses with flashes going off. Then I felt like somebody punched me really, really hard in the left arm, and there was blood. At the same time, Ryan screamed. “We still didn’t know what was going on. There was a pause in the firing. Then he started shooting again,

and the sound was much louder, so he must have changed guns. After a while, there was another pause, and that’s when Phil told me we had to get out. I started down the steps on the right side, but people going that way were getting shot. We turned around and headed to the top of the theater toward the emergency exit. “A young woman seemed in shock down on the floor in one row. She was incoherent and screaming. I stopped, picked her up and took her out the door. Later on, she came over and hugged me. I’m no hero. I was just trying to help somebody. “It was chaotic in the halls because of the alarms and everybody running out of all the theaters, and the managers couldn’t control it. I was trying to get back in to find Ryan and Louis.’’ Why hadn’t anybody rushed the shooter? “I was terrified. We didn’t know how many (gunmen) there were. We didn’t have time to think. We reacted. I just wanted to get away with my friends and not die.’’ Not one of the five friends died. Shrapnel grazed and cut Devon’s arm; Phil, who ran out of his shoes during the escape, suffered shrapnel

wounds in his legs and feet; Louis was struck by a spew of shotgun pellets in his head, arm, chest and leg, and was treated at a hospital and released; Nick suffered a couple of minor wounds; and Ryan’s lung was bruised by one bullet, and another hit him in the stomach. He had 12 small holes in his lower intestines, underwent surgery and will remain in the hospital for two weeks. “We were fortunate,’’ Devon said. “A policeman was holding a baby covered in blood, and she wasn’t moving.’’ The recent graduate of Cherokee Trail High School in Aurora, a second-team all-conference football selection and an impressive track athlete, stood tall above the others in the theater concourse and cried openly. “The specific images keeping coming back,” Devon said. “I still don’t quite understand. Psychologically, the experience will always be with me.’’ Devon Suits will major in college in psychology. Woody Paige: 303-954-1095, or


Excitement turns to grief for workers at Red Robin By Kurtis Lee and Lynn Bartels The Denver Post

Their shift almost over, workers at the Red Robin restaurant were excited to head to the midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.” “They were all talking about going out to the movie and just trying to figure out who was going and who wasn’t,” said Millard Tate, a member of the night cleaning crew, recalling the scene at the restaurant around 11:30 p.m. Thursday. “They were excited about going out.” But the excitement gave way to horror and tears. A gunman shooting up the Century Aurora 16 theater hit eight employees of the Red Robin store at 1491 Havana St. who were watching the movie. Alex Sullivan died. It was “Sully’s” 27th birthday. Two restaurant workers were treated and released, while five workers remain hospitalized, said Red Robin spokesman Kevin Caulfield. Some underwent surgery. “Tragic is an understatement,” he said. “It’s extremely sad. Our team members are like family.” Tate said the staff at the Havana store is very close and rallied around him in April when his 18-year-old son died in a car accident. “They gave me plenty of time off and just gave me time to grieve,” he said. “When I heard about what had happened at the movies, I just broke down in tears. It just brought back all the emotions of what I had went through a few months ago.” It’s normal for the staff to be together outside the store, Havana manager Matt Loften said. “Whether it’s celebrating a birthday or whatever, we do things together,” he said. Derek Smith, who has worked at Red Robin for four years, was across town watching the Batman premiere at the Regal River Point theater. “If I was working that night, I probably would have been there with them,” he said. “They called me to see if I was going to come; I just didn’t feel like driving all the way across town. It was just normal for us to go to that theater and always see a movie.” Smith worked Saturday. He said he wanted to be there to greet the regulars. “This is all so shocking and hard to comprehend,” he said. Red Robin restaurants from California to Pennsylvania are organizing fundraisers for victims, Caulfield said. Workers at other Red Robin restaurants in the metro area and even those in the executive office are helping staff the Havana store, Caulfield said. Several miles away from Red Robin, the Aurora Movie Tavern was closed. Signs placed on the entrance doors said that due to the tragic loss of Sullivan the tavern would be closed for the weekend. An employee said Sullivan had worked there about five years. Lynn Bartels: 303-954-5327, or

Rita Paulina, one of dozens shot during the Aurora theater massacre, is surrounded by visitors Friday at Denver Health. Joining her in the room are, from left, her husband, Anggiat Mora, and friends Yuyun Hornbuckle, Greety Marbun, Marbun’s son, Evans Tampubolon, and Jerry Sahertian. Paulina was shot inches above and below her elbow and in her lower leg. Twelve were killed in the Friday shooting. Photos by Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

“So scared right now” Immigrant family from Indonesia on edge after wife, son wounded By Tom McGhee The Denver Post

Anggiat Mora came to America from Indonesia expecting to find a “land of honey and milk,” he said Saturday as his wife underwent surgery for gunshot wounds suffered in the Aurora massacre that rocked the country. Even though his wife, Rita Paulina, and their 14-year-old son were injured in the Century Aurora 16 theater shooting, which left a dozen people dead, he remains convinced that moving here was the right thing to do. “At least we are working, we have some money, at least enough for our family,” he said, “and I can take my son to a good school.” But Mora, who was not hurt, is badly shaken. At Denver Health on Friday, when someone dropped something in the room where Paulina, 45, lay with her arm and leg covered in medical dressing, he jumped. Before that, as Paulina was still being treated in the emergency room, a loud noise caused her to jump. “We are so scared right now,” he said.

Prodeo Patria, 14, sits in his bed at University Hospital on Friday. He suffered a gunshot wound to his lower back. Paulina, who serves meals at a nursing home, was shot inches above and below her elbow and in her lower leg. Their son, Prodeo Patria, a student at Overland High being treated at University Hospital, was shot in the lower back as he ran for the theater exit. Both are expected to recover. In his hospital room Friday, Prodeo said

that after escaping theater 9, he returned to assist his mother and father, and he helped another wounded man escape. His father, who hoisted Paulina onto his back and carried her out as the shooting continued, didn’t know his son was wounded until they were about 30 feet from the exit and had stopped running. “He said, ‘Look at my back, Dad,’ and I looked and see a hole,” Mora said. By then, police were arriving. An officer told Prodeo to sit on the floor near his mother before they were taken from the theater. Doctors plan to leave the bullet that’s lodged in Prodeo’s back alone, at least for a while. A fan of comic-book superheroes, Prodeo was excited to go to the midnight screening of the new Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises.” “I will watch it again,” he said, “but I will wait until it goes on video.” Tom McGhee: 303-954-1671, or


Midnight massacre sunday, july 22, 2012 B B the denver post


Lyndsey Ammon and her three children; from left, Caleb Ammon, 9, Devon Fallis, 3, Blake Fallis, 5, head to the memorial for shooting victims with flowers at the corner of East Centrepoint Drive and South Sable Boulevard in Aurora on Saturday. Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post

SHOOTING «FROM 1A “This apartment was designed to kill. If you think we’re mad, we’re sure as hell angry,” Oates said during an afternoon press conference. He would not comment on whether Holmes, who is in police custody, is cooperating with authorities. Authorities have not revealed Holmes’ possible motives. FBI Special Agent James Yacone said evidence taken out of Holmes’ apartment will be sent to Quantico and that while the area is believed to be generally safe, “the threat has not been completely eliminated.” Throughout Saturday, Aurora residents flooded the street corner adjacent to the theater, laying flowers, cards and photos, lighting candles and in some instances, sobbing. Strangers hugged each other and exchanged phone numbers. Many who stopped by didn’t know anyone in the theater that night. One card, attached to flowers, read: “with love from Dubuque, Iowa.” Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan tried to provide a unified voice for those who are suffering in his city. “We’re still reeling,” he said. “We will do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to try and help (the victims).” Witnesses at the Century Aurora 16 complex said Holmes, 24, slipped into the midnight premier of “The Dark Knight Rises” through an emergency exit door, armed with three guns and wearing a ballistic helmet, gas mask and body shields. He tossed two hissing gas canisters and calmly walked up the aisle firing at movie-goers, killing 12 and wounding 58. Afterwards, police found Holmes, who until recently was a graduate student in neuroscience at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, calmly waiting for them in the parking lot. His first court appearance will be at 9:30 a.m. Monday at the Arapahoe County Courts. Oates said Holmes had received multiple deliveries at home and school over the past four months, which police believe included ammunition and possibly bomb-making materials. Inside the apartment, police found multiple booby traps, along with IED’s, trip wires and accelerants with trigger mechanisms. “What we’re seeing here is evidence of some calculation and deliberation,” he said. Officials estimate that 30 aerial shells were also inside the 800-squarefoot apartment. Liquid inside of jars placed throughout the room is assumed to be liquid accelerants, but officials could not provide further de-

tails. “There are still unknowns,” said Sgt. Cassidee Carlson of Aurora Police Department. “Keep in mind that we are not exactly sure of everything that’s in there,” Details about the 12 people who died started to emerge Saturday. The victims included an aspiring sports journalist, a sailor and a Target employee who dove on his girlfriend to protect her from gunfire. The oldest victim was 51. The youngest, Veronica Moser, was only 6 years old. A student at Holly Ridge Elementary School in Denver, the blondhaired, blue-eyed girl’s mother, Ashley Moser, suffered two gunshot wounds in the abdomen and the neck, and may be partially paralyzed. The 25-year-old woman passes in and out of consciousness, asking about her daughter, said her aunt, Annie Dalton. She doesn’t know yet that Veronica has died.

“It’s a nightmare right now,” Dalton said. A prayer vigil will be held 6:30 p.m. Sunday at the Aurora Municipal Center, 15151 E. Alameda Parkway in Aurora. Those who attend are asked to gather on the westside steps of the building. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper stopped by several hospitals Saturday to visit the injured, and said he heard “amazing stories of people acting selflessly.” “I talked to a family this morning and they were right in the front row. It was a girlfriend and her boyfriend and the boyfriend’s father. The father of the boyfriend lay down on her after she was shot,” Hickenlooper said. “The doctor feels the father’s action saved her life.” In another case, a man shot in the leg managed to flee the theater. A woman who took off her belt and made a tourniquet for his leg might have saved his

life, Hickenlooper said. Christian Bale, the star of the Batman film, issued a statement saying his heart goes out to the victims and their families. “Words cannot express the horror that I feel,” Bale said. Warner Bros., the distributor of the Batman movie, decided to withhold its box-office numbers for the weekend. Sony, Fox, Disney, Universal Paramount and Lionsgate also decided to wait on reporting revenue reports.


Karen E. Crummy: 303-954-1594, or

James Eagan Holmes was equipped with enough ammo to kill a small town, a stockpile of more than 6,000 rounds he had assembled since May. Authorities say Holmes’ assault-style rifle, shotgun and two pistols were bought from local stores, while the ammunition was bought online — all of it legal and unremarkable. Four guns is hardly unusual in a state such as Colorado where many people love guns, but the stockpile of ammunition seems surprising, if not staggering for a 24-year-old college student. “I don’t know,” Police Chief Dan Oates told reporters who asked about the stockpile. “I’m not much of a gun person.” To buy ammunition online requires buyers to fax a copy of their driver’s license and sign for the deliveries. Federal law prohibits the possession of ammunition by convicted felons, controlled-substance users and anyone under a domestic-violence restraining order, preclusions that did not include Holmes. Judging from prices on several ammunition websites, his cache cost between $3,000 and $3,400, a cost that could have climbed to more than $5,000 from stores. Dave Kopel, research director of the Golden-based Independence Institute who has taught law school classes on firearms regulation, said the size of the cache is a matter of perspective. “It’s all relative. What’s a lot of ammunition?” he said. “A 6,000round purchase is not abnormal. There are competitive target shooters who can go through 6,000 rounds in a month.” Because ammunition is expensive at the per-box rate, individuals and clubs for skeet shooters and hunters often buy in bulk to save money. Such purchases are mostly unregulated.

Staff writers Lynn Bartels, Jessica Fender and Kristen Leigh Painter, and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

A woman visits a memorial at the corner of East Centrepoint Drive and South Sable Boulevard in Aurora on Saturday. The memorial was created to honor the 12 killed and 58 wounded in Friday’s theater massacre in Aurora. Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post

Ammunition cache not unusual, say gun experts By Joey Bunch The Denver Post

Joey Bunch: 303-954-1174, or


the denver post B B

sunday, july 22, 2012

Midnight massacre «19A


Muddy facets of his life emerge A person representing himself as James Holmes was on an adult site in search of a “sex gal.” By Jessica Fender and Sara Burnett The Denver Post

Scraps of information about the life of suspected killer James Holmes continued to emerge Saturday as police closely guarded details that might point to the motive behind the worst mass shooting in state history. On an adult-themed dating site created earlier this month, a person representing himself as Holmes sought a “casual sex gal” who would “visit (him) in prison.” A résumé that Holmes apparently penned portrayed him as an “aspiring scientist” who had “provided guidance to underprivileged children” at a California summer camp. And a peek inside his bomb-rigged apartment seems to contradict suspicions that Holmes was a comic book fanatic, a theory fueled by assertions that he told police that he was “the Joker” upon his arrest. But the biggest question about the Friday morning attack at Aurora’s Century 16 movie theater — why a young man would turn an arsenal on a room

full of strangers, killing 12 and wounding dozens — remains unanswered. And if the Aurora Police Department has its way, those answers will be revealed only in a courtroom, said Chief Dan Oates. “As much as there is this passion on your part to get information, there is a passion on our part to ultimately do justice for the victims, and the way you do that is you present this evidence in court, when the time comes,” Oates told reporters. “Not … to you folks.” He said the FBI’s behavioral analysis unit is “fully plugged in” to the investigation, but determining Holmes’ motive could take weeks or months. Police believe that Holmes, an unemployed neuroscience graduate student, garbed himself head-to-toe in bullet-resistant armor and opened fire around 12:30 a.m. on a crowd of theatergoers gathered to watch the premiere of “The Dark Night Rises.” His apartment was rigged with at least 30 incendiary or explosive devices set to ignite when wires were tripped, police say. Sheila Baker of Aurora brought her daughter to lay flowers at the memorial outside the theater Saturday. She asked the question on the minds of many across Colorado and the country: Why did this happen? “How does someone stand in line, buy a ticket, sit down and watch part of

A photo taken from an Adult Friend Finder profile might belong to James Eagan Holmes, 24, police say. the movie without stopping to think once — ‘This is a horrible idea’?” Baker asked, wiping away tears. “I can’t wrap my mind around this. None of it seems real.” Law enforcement sources say that a team of investigators are looking into the social media footprint Holmes may have left behind, including a perverse profile on an adult-themed social network site for people with nontraditional sexual preferences. The profile, under the handle “ClassicJimbo,” was

launched July 5 and features an undated photograph of a smirking Holmes with the beginning of a beard and fireorange hair. Jail officials say Holmes’ hair was dyed red when he was booked. Police aren’t yet certain whether the profile was created by Holmes, a law enforcement source said. The profile had been removed by Saturday afternoon. “Looking for a fling or casual sex gal,” the profile’s author wrote. “Am a nice guy. Well, as nice enough of a guy who does these sorts of shenanigans.” Another section asks, “Will you visit me in jail?” It identifies ClassicJimbo as a 24year-old male living in Aurora who’s interested in women and group sex. The profile’s author also joined a group called “Aurora Meet and Greet Gang” about a week ago. The group organizes social events for people interested in dating, relationships and nontraditional sexual activities. A website moderator told The Denver Post that Holmes had not interacted with members of the group. Beyond that, digital traces of the suspected shooter are few. He appears to have shunned traditional social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. A résumé first reported by Inland Empire’s Press-Enterprise in California, matches Holmes’ former address, cellphone number and aca-

demic record, although it has not been authenticated by authorities. In the résumé, Holmes seeks a position as a laboratory technician and touts his work as a summer camp counselor for the Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles, where he “assisted children in achieving their potential.” Bomb technicians’ video shot inside Holmes’ apartment showed a bicycle and a couch, but nothing that would suggest he was a comic book fanatic, although the camera angle was mostly tilted downward toward the suspected explosive devices, said a source who had watched them. Speculation that Holmes may be an obsessed fan have persisted thanks to his brightly dyed red hair, his dramatic garb at the time of the shooting and the New York City police commissioner’s assertion that Holmes told authorities he was Batman arch villain the Joker upon his arrest. Holmes will be represented by Daniel King and Tamara Brady, chief trial attorneys for the state public defender’s office. Staff reporters Jordan Steffen, Lindsay Jones and Lynn Bartels contributed to this report. Jessica Fender: 303-954-1244, or



Police defuse booby-traps

College program exclusive

Robot disables trip device so bombs could be removed By Kristen Leigh Painter and Joey Bunch The Denver Post

Just before noon Saturday, a bomb squad robot trundled into the heavily armed apartment of alleged Aurora theater shooter James Eagan Holmes Inside, the living room of the 800square-foot apartment was strewn with about 30 softball-sized improvised explosive devices, said a bomb technician at the scene. The robot dropped a device similar to a water bottle, then retreated. With traffic blocked off and human lives safely blocks away, the apartment at 1690 Paris St. emitted a boom — infinitesimal compared with the one the delicate operation was designed to prevent. Aurora police told reporters to stand behind their vehicles two blocks away, just in case. Gov. John Hickenlooper was among those who waited nearby during the controlled detonation. Bomb technicians deactivated a trip wire as they worked to breach the apartment, booby-trapped with the improvised explosive devices. “We have been successful in defeating our first threat,” Sgt. Cassidee Carlson of the Aurora Police Department said afterward. “This is some serious stuff they’re dealing with.” The water bottle device disabled a “9D trip device” and managed to avoid setting off any of the other explosives nearby. Aurora Deputy Fire Chief Chris Henderson said they found a number of liter-sized soda bottles filled with an unknown liquid and connected with wires Carlson said police hoped to preserve as much of Holmes’ living space to aid the investigation. “Anything that’s in there, we’re going to be using as evidence,” Carlson said.

Only 6 accepted for grant at CU By Sara Burnett The Denver Post

Firefighters examine evidence brought out of the apartment of James Eagan Holmes, the suspect in the Aurora shootings, on Saturday. The apartment was booby-trapped with homemade explosives. Stephen Mitchell, The Denver Post “So we’re going to be very cautious with how we deal with things, with how we take things out.” Saturday afternoon, the explosives were moved to an open field east of Aurora in a dump truck packed with sand. At the disposal site, the explosives were moved to a trench and doused in diesel fuel, before they were ignited, finally neutralizing their threat. The three-story red brick building, populated mostly by college students

and young professionals, has been evacuated since Friday morning, after Holmes was arrested in the shooting rampage that left 12 dead and 58 wounded. Police hoped to make the building safe, but as of Saturday afternoon it appeared only residents in four other nearby apartment buildings might be allowed to return home that day. Police officers and FBI agents used a fire-truck bucket Friday morning to

ride to the top floor of the three-story building. They smashed a window with a long pole and then took pictures of the inside of Holmes’ apartment, showing the magnificently planned and constructed trap, presumably left to kill police officers who responded after the theater attack. Kristen Leigh Painter:, 303-9541628 or

Disarming the apartment Federal and local authorities were able to successfully disarm James Eagan Holmes’ apartment on Paris Street in Aurora early Saturday afternoon.




• Authorities used a firetruck bucket initially to break a third-floor window in order to assess the potenital danger of entering the apartment. Suspect’s apartment

• 30 softball-sized explosive devices were found throughout the living area.


Explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) suits Before entering the suspect’s apartment to remove the remaining explosive devices, specially trained officers put on a special suit to help protect them if a device from the apartment exploded. Suit weight: 65+ pounds A robot, similar to the one shown, was sent into the apartment after the initial assessment of the space. It was controlled through an electronic transmitter to safely detonate the trigger.


Sources: Security Pro USA; U.S. Navy

Blast plate

EOD robot

Zoom camera Pan and tilt Camera Gripper



Hand mitt

Anntena Trousers Overboots

James Eagan Holmes had made it into an exclusive academic program and was facing high stakes when police say he began buying the weapons and ammunition he later used in Friday’s movie-theater shooting. Holmes, 24, was one of six people accepted into the neuroscience program at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus’ graduate school for the 2011-12 academic year. He was there on a Neuroscience Training Grant from the National Institutes of Health — a program focused on training “outstanding neuroscientists and academicians who will make significant contributions to neurobiology,” university spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery said. The grant funds just six prethesis Ph.D. students at CU per year. At the end of the program’s first year, students take preliminary oral exams, known as “prelims.” Students who do well continue on for the next year; those who have trouble talk with the training committee about possible options, including taking the exam again, Montgomery said. The university would not disclose how Holmes did on his test. But around the same time, he began purchasing weapons. In June, he decided to withdraw from the program. He gave no reason for his withdrawal, Montgomery said. She also said campus police had no contact with Holmes. CU’s neuroscience program focuses on how the brain functions, with an emphasis on behavior, processing of information, learning and memory. A professor said Holmes was in the physiology subprogram, which specifically studies the physical mechanics of the brain. Students take classes and conduct research during their first year. In subsequent years, the full-time focus is research. The program typically takes five to seven years to complete. Sara Burnett: 303-954-1661, or

Protective cover Danielle Kees, The Denver Post


sunday, july 22, 2012 B B the denver post


A day to grieve for those who were lost By Chuck Murphy The Denver Post

aurora» ar from the camp occupied by the world’s media, and the line of fidgeting shoppers waiting for 10 a.m. to come so they could enter the reopening Aurora Town Center mall, Alexandria Mosley pulled her car into a space in the mostly empty lot. She got out, faced the Century Aurora 16 multiplex, spread her arms wide, bowed her head and began to pray. “Through great pain is also great glory,” Mosley, 20, said when she was done. “I just prayed that his glory be felt by all who suffered here.” In front of her, local and federal agents could be seen continuing their grisly task of cataloguing the crime scene in theaters 8 and 9. As the shock of Friday morning’s massacre wore off, Saturday became the day to remember and grieve the 58 victims whose lives will never be the same, and the 12 whose lives ended when they were attacked


during a midnight screening of the new Batman film. Portraits of the dead began to emerge. They were, as you might expect from a midnight movie crowd, young, bright individuals with limitless potential and most of their lives ahead of them. Almost all were, in age and ambition, just like the man police say killed them, with an important distinction: They were not at the theater alone — they had friends. One of those friends is Isaac Pacheco, 22, who drew a media scrum when he arrived at the impromptu memorial across from the multiplex clad in a Batman T-shirt and cap. In the shirt’s bat logo, he had written “We (heart) Alex.” Alex was Alex Sullivan, Pacheco’s friend from Aurora’s Movie Tavern. They once worked together there. Pacheco brought a votive candle, the 84th added to the growing display at the intersection of Centrepoint Drive and Sable Boulevard. He also signed a card for Sullivan, who was celebrating his birthday

by taking in “The Dark Knight Rises” early Friday. “I hadn’t really seen him lately. We had kind of lost touch,” Pacheco said, more than a hint of regret in his voice. “But every time I did, every time I saw him at Movie Tavern, it was good. He was a great friend.” Pacheco is a big fan of the Batman franchise. But he was not there for the movie’s premiere, and he probably won’t see it for weeks or months. Maybe years. “Batman used to be my alltime favorite, but now I can’t even watch it,” Pacheco said. “Maybe someday. Maybe when it is on DVD or something. Maybe not even then.” I asked whether he was giving additional power to the killer by changing his life as a result of Friday’s massacre. He thought for a few seconds. “Maybe. Maybe I am. I still don’t know what to think.” None of us do. Chuck Murphy: 303-954-1829, or


Nurse steps up amid trauma Midwife Tanya Tanner helped to relieve patients’ anxiety at the hospital. By Sheba Wheeler Special to The Denver Post

aurora» Certified nurse midwife Tanya Tanner was on duty Friday about midnight at the Medical Center of Aurora, thinking about taking a quick nap while her labor and delivery patients slept. But a random thought to check in with the nursing staff in the emergency room dramatically changed the course of her night. “It was strange because I don’t usually do that, but something told me to call out to the desk,” Tanner said. “When I asked the nurses if they were OK, they said ‘actually no we are not. There’s been a major trauma.’ ” Tanner headed to the ER. “I’m a nurse. I take care of people, that’s what I do,” she said. “I might not be able to take away the pain, but I was going to do what I could to alleviate some of the suffering.” While ER staff managed the controlled chaos of triage, Tanner walked from room to room, speaking to victims. “I heard the person who was screaming the loudest and gave them as much attention as I could,” Tanner said. “It’s about human connection, and the patients wanted to be connected. I wanted them to know that while we were doing everything we could to treat their injuries, we also cared about

them as people.” Tanner asked about their work and family. She also helped patients and family members reconnect, finding them reliable sources for information that cut through the din of rumor, innuendo and mistruths. One of her favorite sayings to make a victim smile: “Redbox is going to be your best friend in the weeks to come,” when the shock wears off and the healing begins. Some victims confessed that their belief in their own personal safety was forever shaken. “They wanted to know why this happened, if they could ever be safe in a public place again,” she said. “Some wanted to know why they lived when others died. I told them, ‘We live in a random world. You

have to believe you are safe in order to live your life. You didn’t do this. You are not to blame.’ People die every day. This didn’t have anything to do with God. God is who we will turn to now to offer healing.” Gov. John Hickenlooper visited the hospital Saturday afternoon, shaking hands with staff members and getting updates on patients. He visited with victims and their family members to offer support. Seven shooting victims, ages 16 to 31, are receiving treatment for serious wounds to the head, torso and leg, said Linda Kanamine, spokeswoman for the Medical Center. Of those seven at the hospital, six had surgery, four are in ICU and three have been taken to normal medical floors.

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the denver post B B sunday, july 22, 2012



Swimmer thinks of victims Centennial resident hoping to “shine a little bit of light” By John Henderson The Denver Post

vichy, france» The headline at the top of the national daily Liberation screamed, “L’enfer a Denver” (“Hell in Denver”). Roaring across a page-and-a-half spread on Pages 8 and 9, the headline read, “Colorado: Ce n’est pas du cinema” (“Colorado: This is not a movie”). Friday’s Aurora theater shooting that left 12 dead was huge news in France, particularly here in Vichy, where the U.S. swim team has its preOlympic swimming camp. Missy Franklin, entered in seven Olympic events, goes to school at Regis Jesuit High in Aurora and lives about 15 minutes away in Centennial. Her coach, Todd Schmitz, lives in Aurora. “It’s about 3 miles from my house,” Schmitz said of the theater during Saturday’s media day. “I drive by there about every day going to the Lowry pool. (Friday) we were finishing breakfast, and I was reading my Twitter feed and I saw that. It was pretty scary. You do a lot

of thinking when something like that happens. Both Missy and I had that moment.” Neither Schmitz nor Franklin knew any of the victims, but their opinions on the tragedy were valued even out here. “I was getting information that all my friends and family were OK, so that was good, but the fact that so many people were hurt and so many families were affected, it’s just heartbreaking,” Franklin said. “Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do about it. The only thing I can do is go to the Olympics and hopefully make Colorado proud and shine a little bit of light there.” Schmitz said the theater is north of where all of the swimmers on his Colorado Stars club live, and one swimmer told him they were all OK. “Like what Missy and I both said, when things like that happen, you don’t take things for granted,” Schmitz said. “Live every day like it’s your last.” John Henderson: 303-954-1299, or




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U.S. Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin talks at a news conference Saturday in Vichy, France. She lives in Centennial and attends Regis Jesuit High in Aurora. Thierry Zoccolan, AFP/GettyImages


Holmes held in segregation in county jail By Jessica Fender The Denver Post

aurora» Theater-shooting suspect James Holmes is being held in segregation for his own protection at the Arapahoe County Jail, officials say. A female inmate who was released Saturday said 12 women had been placed in one cell so jail officials can concentrate on

Holmes. “They’re not worried about anyone else,” she said. “They’re worried about him.” She said the inmates are saying the crime was crazy. “A lot of the girls are saying he wants to be the Joker,” she said. Sheriff Grayson Robinson denied a New York Daily News report that further special mea-

sures had been made to protect Holmes, such as blacking out the windows to his cell. Robinson also said he had not been notified about any outbursts by Holmes, including spitting at guards as reported by the Daily News. “I would have been told,” Robinson said. Jail officials said there have been no direct threats against Holmes but he had been re-

moved from the general population because of the high-profile nature of the case. He is not on suicide watch and has not had any visitors, 9News reported. The suspect has declined all interviews on the advice of his attorneys. Jessica Fender: 303-954-1244, or

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sunday, july 22, 2012 B B the denver post


OPINION Don’t expect new gun laws

Guest commentary

In the face of hate, love back

By Jim Merlino Politico

By Michael Johnston


served as Democratic policy director for the Colorado Senate minority in 2003 — when the state legislature passed the gun law package that is now the law in Colorado. These bills had been delayed since the 1999 Columbine shootings. But that notorious high school massacre had not really altered the law’s provisions. The heart of the package was a concealed-weapons bill that requires that sheriffs issue a concealed weapons permit to any applicant certified to not be a habitual drug or alcohol abuser, insane or a felon. The law eliminated a sheriff’s personal discretion based on local custom or community safety concerns. In Colorado, the National Rifle Association is considered a left-wing Washington-based organization. Instead, gun owners look to the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners as their voice in the legislature and Congress. [Editor’s note: Dudley Brown, executive director of RMGO, on Saturday posted a statement on the group’s website, saying the alleged shooter was not affiliated with the group. “I know that our members are of the highest character, and examples of Colorado’s finest law-abiding citizens,” Brown said. “Furthermore, the blatant attempt by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to use the blood of these innocents to advance his radical political agenda is disgusting. Mayor Bloomberg’s campaign succeeded in disarming not just these movie-goers, but has created millions of gun-free criminal-safezones across the county.”] In Colorado, our gun laws were written to work for the RMGO and given the force of law by the Republican Party. Colorado’s 2003 gun bills passed because the Republicans controlled both houses of the General Assembly and the governor’s office. But if you now think that meaningful gun control can emerge in Colorado, you’re dreaming. In a state where large mammals occasionally make a meal out of their smaller, two-legged brethren, gun control discussions take on a more primitive and decidedly less academic turn. In fact, if you think reasonable gun control is the entire solution to the now too-familiar occurrences of mass shootings, you are naive. But does this mean we should surrender discussions about gun control, funding for mental health treatment, and the role of government to radical activists and others who insist that government is playing an outsize role in our lives? After the 2003 laws were passed, the courts weighed in and blunted some of the more objectionable parts. Most important, the courts limited the state pre-emption portion — allowing local governments to pass gun regulations more in keeping with local practice. Notably, this meant the limitation of “open carry” provisions. Under the 2003 laws, any person could openly carry any legal firearm anywhere he or she could legally go — except schools and colleges, or if a property owner posted a notice prohibiting it. But after the court revisions, Denver and other cities could pass ordinances with a blanket prohibition of the open carry of firearms, in keeping with urban density and local custom. But the question remains: What is reasonable legislation that would help stem the rising tide of mass shootings? And why is this discussion always propelled by the fringes rather than the middle? To begin with, mass shootings can be as much about mental illness and the lack of a community as they are about unrestricted access to weapons. We can see that spending on treatment and screening for mental illness is finally becoming a bipartisan goal. So why not reach a bipartisan consensus on reasonable gun laws aimed at curtailing gun violence? Would limitations on access to automatic, high-powered weapons and automatic hand guns make mass shootings less likely? On a day of sorrow, when the leaders of both parties talk about prayers, I am full of emotion and short on solutions. But it is time to try framing solutions from the middle out — and not from the fringe in. Jim Merlino of Broomfield is a strategic-business and communications consultant.


Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

After “Dark Knight” tragedy, keep going to the movies Y

ou are in a dark room with dozens of strangers. You are all looking at the same thing. There is that strange semi-synthetic smell of butter in the air. You are laughing. You are crying. A voice shouts something, and everyone shushes or chuckles. You whisper to your friends in the next seat. You spill your popcorn between the rows. And you feel safe. The worst thing that can happen is that Fred Willard may become overexcited by the film. There is something both frivolous and luminous about the movies. There is danger, excitement, the dilation of time. In the course of two hours, you grow an extra life or get new eyes, or maybe you only laugh once and Jason Statham explodes something. It varies. It is supposed to vary. And afterwards there is a magical solidarity between you and the others who came on that voyage to a place that did not exist. You exit the theater with the same lines on your lips, and hours later dozens of strangers in bars on different sides of the city are still making the same indignant gestures. What did you think of that trailer? Prometheus was a letdown! Why did they bother rebooting Spiderman so soon? And all of this is a small miracle. But when a miracle happens every day you cease to notice, until the one day it doesn’t. Early Friday in a movie theater in Aurora, a 24-year-old shooter allegedly opened fire on a crowd of people there to see “The Dark Knight

ALEXANDRA PETRI The Washington Post

Rises,” killing 12. And now there is the usual mad, sickening dash to shout the loudest and keen the most ostentatiously and tar the people with whom you disagree. To talk about gun restrictions and safeguards and drag in ideologies and posit dark theories about the malign influence of film and unleash the shadowy winged things that sleep inside the box. That there were thousands of theaters where this did not happen does not make this news less horrible. But one of the reasons it is so startling is because it is the exception, not the rule. Sometimes when awful news hits, when places you expect will be safe become scenes of terror, when the person sitting next to you in the darkness acquires a face in the saddest possible circumstances, this is easy to forget. No, people are dangerous. Stay home. The world is dark and cold and nowhere is completely safe. These acts of terror make the one horrible person stand out in relief and blur the faces of everyone else. Suddenly we all know the name James Holmes. For weeks we will pry at his head and forget how many good, civilized people there are. There are so many. There were so many in the theater that night. Civilization is not an impersonal clockwork. It is the constant accretion of small politenesses. It abounds in these wonderful, small things that we do

Three helicopters make a flyover of the Century Aurora 16 on Saturday. Barry Gutierrez, Associated Press together. We buy tickets and walk into the room with the giant screen and say, “Excuse me, is this seat taken?” and sometimes we even pick up our trash on the way out. We sit together in the dark and tell each other stories, secure in the knowledge that the only horrible things that will happen will be on the other side of the screen. Now AMC is already banning people from wearing any kind of masks. Fear creeps in. That is the most horrible side effect of terror, to make us afraid to take part in these daily miracles. To make us scared to get on the bus or the train. To set a nervous stutterstep in the pit of our stomach every time there is a loud noise in the theater. And it would be awful if we let that happen.

What They are Saying About the shootings in Aurora and gun control The country needs laws that allow gun ownership, but laws that also control their sale and use in careful ways. Instead, we have been seeing a rash of “stand your ground” self-defense laws, other laws that recklessly encourage the carrying of concealed weapons and efforts to force every state to knuckle under to those laws. Assault rifles like the one used by the killer in Colorado are too readily available, as are high-capacity ammunition clips. From an editorial in The New York Times

Those who argue that tighter gun control would have prevented this tragedy should consider the possibility that gun control made it as deadly as it was. The Aurora mass murder and similar tragedies prove that super villains exist, but there is no real-life Batman who will swoop to the rescue with a fancy gadget and ensure a happy ending. In a culture that increasingly glorifies violence, citizens … need to have the means to exercise their right to self-defense. From an editorial in The Washington Times

What will happen is a chance for political figures … to find their best healing words. Presidents generally excel at this: Bush at the National Cathedral after 9/11, Clinton after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. … The moment and the platform, sad though it is, delivers an opportunity for a politician to look bigger than the usual cacophony of TV ads and YouTube jabs. There will undoubtedly be a large service in Colorado in the coming days. The president will go. He will mourn. We will, too. But there won’t be (gun control) legislation. Matthew Cooper, National Journal

There is no constitutional right to buy submachine guns or silencers or uniquely hazardous bullets without background checks — or at all. … It is time to ban all military-style semi-automatic assault weapons, ban assault clips holding more than 10 rounds, and require that new guns have micro-stamping technology so bullets left at crime scenes can be traced. These are simple, moderate steps. This tragedy is not shocking — it is a … stark reminder of our inability to do what so many other nations have done: Put in place meaningful gun control. Eliot Spitzer, on

This crime was ultimately about people. … We would do well to avoid breathlessly proposing radical changes to our constitutional order because a man abused his liberty. Those with evil in their hearts are prone to do evil things, and those willing to violate strict prohibitions against murder do not care much about regulation of firearms or much else. As such, unless the shooter was part of a bigger conspiracy or was systematically failed by an institution, our attentions might be better focused on Aurora, and not on any particular group, or — even worse — the whole citizenry of the United States. Charles C.W. Cooke, National Review

On The Idea Log: Christine Harms, director of the Colorado School Safety Resource Center, on how to help your kids cope with the horror of the Aurora theater massacre. The Idea Log is The Denver Post’s blog for opinion coverage. To read it and to join discussions on the issues of the day, scan the code at left with your phone or go to

n Friday, 4 million Coloradans went to work and played football in their front yard; strangers opened doors for each other; and people gave blood, offered shelter, served hot meals, held grandkids, played pick-up basketball and committed unnumbered acts of kindness and gentleness. One Coloradan dressed up like a villain and believed that by showing up at the site of America’s mythical hero, he could slay our actual heroes. It’s true there was no Batman sitting in the theater to fly down and tackle James Holmes, as he hoped there might be. He had tactical assault gear covering his whole body, ready for America to fight back. But love is more organized than that. Love has cellphones and ambulances, nurses and doctors, complete strangers and policemen and emergency responders always at the ready. Love has nurses who will jump out of bed in the middle of the night and get family members to watch their children so they can rush to the hospital and save the life of someone they’ve never met. Love has first responders who will walk into a booby-trapped building to save the lives of neighbors they will never meet. It must be lonely being James Holmes, spending too much of the first part of your life planning alone for an act that will leave you sitting alone for the rest of your life. For the rest of us, life is crowded. Love is always one movie seat away. We are a team that loves each other and will fight for each other, and if you punch us in the mouth, we will fight back. Yet America’s awesome strength to fight is overwhelmed by its irrepressible strength to love. James Holmes took 12 lives Friday. Love saved 58 lives. Policemen on the scene in minutes, strangers carrying strangers, nurses and doctors activated all over the city. But we didn’t stop there. Love saved the hundreds of other people who walked out of the Aurora movie theater unhurt. Love saved the 5,000 who went to see Batman all over Colorado, and the 1.2 million who saw it all over the country, who walked in and out safely with their friends, arm in arm. Love guided the 4 million other Coloradans who went to bed peacefully Friday night, and who woke up this morning committed to loving each other a little deeper. The awe of last night is not that a man full of hate can take 12 people’s lives; it is that a nation full of love can save 300 million lives every day. I sat this morning wondering what I could do to help: give blood, support victims, raise money, stop violence. How could we start to fight back? My friends texted that they had plans to take their kids to Batman tonight but were now afraid to go. Others who were going to play pick-up basketball or go out to dinner were afraid to leave home. They thought they would hunker down in their home and wonder, “How do we fight back?” The answer is we love back. We deepen our commitments to all the unnumbered acts of kindness that make America an unrendable fabric. We will serve more meals, play more games, eat more food, listen to more jazz, go to more movies, give more hugs, and say more “thank yous” and “I love yous” than ever before. So while James Holmes settles into a jail cell, wondering what we will do to fight back, we will love back. We will go to a park and play soccer, we will go to the playground and restaurants and movie theaters of our city all year. He should know not only that he failed in his demented attempt to be the villain, but that Batman didn’t have to leap off the screen to stop him, because we had a far more organized and powerful force than any superhero could ever have. In a movie theater in Aurora 50 years from now, one of last night’s survivors will be waiting in the popcorn line and mention that he was in Theater 9 on that terrible summer night in 2012. And, inexplicably, with an armful of popcorn, a total stranger will reach out and give that old man a huge hug and say, “I’m so glad you made it.” Love back. We’ve already won. Michael Johnston is a Democratic state senator from northeast Denver.


Midnight massacre sunday, july 22, 2012 B B the denver post



Colorado gives back with flow of blood Donation centers are booked through the end of the month. By Erin Udell The Denver Post

In the wake of Friday’s early morning massacre at an Aurora movie theater, many Coloradans are asking how they can help — a lot more than Dianna Hemphill has ever seen. Hemphill, spokeswoman for the Bonfils Blood Center, said the community’s reaction to the tragedy has been “overwhelming.� Bonfils’ blood donation centers — including six in the Denver metro area — have filled all of their appointment slots for the rest of the month. Potential donors are encouraged to call the appointment hotline to donate when more spots open up, however. “We’ve never, ever booked out,� Hemphill said. “This is very unusual for us. It just shows that Coloradans want to give back when they see something really horrible happen in their community.� While she said the outpouring of support is great, she added that she hopes to see this streak continue into August so Bonfils can try to replenish supplies depleted by treating shooting victims. “The (recent) support is tremendous, but we really have to credit our donors who come in on a regular basis,� she said. “It’s really the days and weeks following that we’ll need support.� Jay Connors, manager of the Children’s Hospital Colorado Blood Donor Center, echoed Hemphill, saying that it’s truly “the blood on the shelves that saves lives and keeps up prepared.� As a smaller operation in Children’s Colorado, the blood donor center exists to serve the needs of the hospital and uses Bonfils as a backup. “We just want to send an enormous thank you to the donors,� Connors said, adding that the center is booked through next week. The Children’s donation center is in the hospital and is open Monday through Friday. Most of Bonfils’ locations are open Monday through Saturday, but the Westminster center also accepts donors on Sundays, as do some of the 10 mobile drives that visit local churches. The centers hope for more O negative, A negative and platelet donations, Hemphill said. For more information on making an appointment, call the Bonfils appointment line at 303-3632300 or visit or

Pastor Mary Lu Saddoris, left, comforts Isaac Pacheco and Courtney McGregor, friends of shooting victim Alex Sullivan, on Saturday as they visit a memorial near the movie theater in Aurora. Twelve people were killed and 58 were injured in the attack early Friday. The Denver Post, Hyoung Chang

WHY ÂŤFROM 1A “I think it’s a tough but valid question,â€? said Del Elliott, founding director of the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at the University of Colorado at Boulder. “These events are disturbing to me, but they look like an anomaly — terrible but within the realm of random events.â€? Elliott said that nationwide, Colorado is in the bottom third statistically for gun violence. “But the particular form of this violence — shooting with massive amounts of death — we do seem to have more of that,â€? he added. Elliott noted that the state narrowly avoided a similar disaster in 2006, when law officers killed Duane Morrison, who had taken students hostage at Platte Canyon High School. One student, Emily Keyes, was killed by the gunman. “I’ve heard arguments about the number of guns in Colorado and the perspective we have on them,â€? Elliott said. “But these events seem very carefully planned, so that the availability of guns is almost irrelevant. Anyone with that level of intent is going to find weapons, legally or illegally.â€? Jennifer Harman, a professor at Colorado State University specializing in social psychology and violence, said there could be “cultural and social differences in the West about using violence as a way to deal with stress or provocation.â€?

“There is even a theory that there are regional differences in when it’s acceptable to use violence,� she said. “The thinking is that it’s more acceptable in the South or West.� Harman cited a study called “Culture of Honor: The Psychology of Violence in the South,� authored by Richard Nisbett and Dov Cohen, that made the case for regional differences in the use of violence to settle grievances. Still, Harman said that theory gets complicated in Colorado, where so many residents arrive from elsewhere. (James Eagan Holmes, the 24year-old man accused in the shootings, grew up in California.) Thousands of native Midwesterners live here. Ditto for East Coasters, Texans and Californians. The Old West myth — and the New West one too, for that matter — holds that people can pull up roots and reinvent themselves. But such transience can lead to emotional isolation. And Harman noted that people who are social misfits and feel ostracized tend to lash out, not withdraw. “It does seem this state has an image that people are happy here,� said Patricia Limerick, a CU history professor who chairs the Center of the American West. “But if you’re unhappy and wildly so, that’s a way to contrast yourself with the rest of the world and withdraw.� Limerick said she could see no Colorado connection. “In these cases, it just seems the terrible strangeness of the individual is so much more of a factor that I can’t put it in relationship to the


state,� she said. On Friday, Hickenlooper assured people that this is a “safe city, in a safe state, in a safe country.� Former Colorado Gov. Roy Romer, in a telephone interview, said the shooting was “just happenstance.� “I don’t think there’s anything unique to Colorado that caused this,� Romer said. “In our search for answers, we reach for connections that aren’t there.� Romer, governor from 1987 to 1999, pointed to the general availability of guns as the driver in such incidents. Aurora police said Holmes brought an AR-15 rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and two .40-caliber Glock handguns to the Century Aurora 16. “When I woke up and heard this story, the first thing that occurred to me as the cause is the widespread possession of guns in our society,� Romer said. “We have to understand as a society that the proliferation of guns will lead to their use. It’s just common sense.� Elliott, the CU professor, concurred — up to a point. “When we moved here from California in 1967, one of the reasons we came was because Colorado seemed a much safer place to live and raise a family,� Elliott said. Like the rest of us, he was still trying to wrap his head around what happened and why, once again, mass murder had found its way to Colorado.

Maneka Singh, 28, is comforted by her boyfriend, Martin Vance, 29, at a shrine for victims across from the parking lot at the Century Aurora 16 theater in Aurora. Heather Rousseau, The Denver Post

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Hickenlooper’s train stop raises money for victims By Joanne Davidson The Denver Post

A stop at The Denver Post’s Cheyenne Frontier Days Train bound for Cheyenne on Saturday morning wasn’t just a welcome respite for Gov. John Hickenlooper. He used the time to muster financial support for those affected by the tragic event at the Century Aurora 16 theater. The money he collects will be offered as a match to donations received through Giving “His goal is to raise as much as he can,” says Cheryl Haggstrom, executive vice president of’s parent organization, the Community First Foundation. “At the time that he boarded the train, he had close to $200,000 in hand. We are thrilled that we can partner with him on this; it is going to make a tremendous

difference.” Hickenlooper did not make the trip to Cheyenne. Haggstrom says those visiting will find a list of nonprofit organizations that will be providing aid and that donors can select the agency or agencies to which they want to direct their funds. They include Aurora Mental Health Center, Mental Health America of Colorado, Metro Crisis Services and Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance. Project Linus, meanwhile, is hosting a Blanket Blitz for Aurora on Sunday. There will be two locations where volunteers will be making blankets to be distributed to children affected

by the shooting: Parker Library, 10851 S. Crossroads Drive in Parker, and 5605 S. Lee St. in Littleton. Sessions run from 1 to 4 p.m., and attendees are asked to bring lengths of polar fleece and sharp sewing scissors. The Thrive With Confidence Foundation is hosting an afternoon of healing from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday at 15528 E. Hampden Circle in Aurora. It is free and open to the public, although contributions of bottled water, juice and other refreshments are encouraged. Aurora Mental Health Center has crisis counselors on duty around the clock to help people cope; they can be reached at 303-617-2300. Children’s Hospi-



tal Colorado also has a family support line: 720-777-2300. Other support-service providers include Aurora therapist Bethany Jones, who is offering a free initial counseling session to children and families; the Trauma Treatment Center of Colorado’s Dr. Lee Baker (303790-5585); and the Heartlight Center, where a coalition of caregiving organizations will be holding a series of opendoor support groups, starting at 6:30 p.m. Monday. Heartlight Center is at 11150 E. Dartmouth Ave. in Aurora.

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Buick’s beautiful sleeper.. Today’s undiscovered bargain in a full-size premium sedan by B. Debel

AUROR A, CO - As with any bargain, you’ll most often find it on the road less traveled. Today, that road leads to Suss Buick GMC, and the bargain is on a used 2011 Buick Lucerne, priced from $22,981 with NO added dealer handling fees, thousands back from the original MSRP of $33,895. If you’re in the market for a full-size premium sedan, go see the Lucerne and take it out for a test drive. You’ll want one… not only because you like the price, but because you like the car. It’s understandable how this beautiful sedan had slipped through the cracks. Having limited production numbers,

and with the last to roll off the assembly line on June 15, 2011, it had minimal buyer exposure. Although Buick has long remained near the top of the charts in terms of quality and durability, it seems few have paid attention. Stuck with the impression of being poorly built by younger Americans, Buick has put forth great effort creating a brand that is worthy of praise. Even the Chinese have embraced the brand, marking Buick as a luxury line and making it one of the most sought after vehicles in their culture. However, Buick still has a hill to climb, pegged with the image of an “old person’s car,” fewer shoppers are visiting Buick showrooms these days,

unaware that Buick is now in a new era and on a quest to reclaim a spot as the premium brand. Visually seductive, this stately Buick beats all other large sedan offerings hands down in terms of styling, quality and value, for under the Lucerne’s beautiful wrappings lies the same solid platform as Cadillac’s magnificent DTS. But from there up it’s every-inch-a-Buick, looking distinctively different than any other GM product. And many will tell you that the Lucerne is a better driving car than the Cadillac, which is a result of Buick’s relentless pursuit to isolate the passenger cabin from the outside world by blocking noise paths at

their source through the use of extensive dampening and insulation. Even the windshield and front side glass have a special layer of laminate to help absorb road noise. Buick touts this as t h e i r exc l u s i ve “Quiet Tuning”, which sounds like just another marketing hype, but you have to experience it to appreciate it. It’s a drive in the clouds. The Lucerne glistens with a level of quality that will blow you away, from its close-tolerance body panels and interior trim pieces to its buttery, finelystitched leather. Although the Lucerne is a big car, there’s nothing big about the way it drives. The handling is crisp and nimble, the braking sure. It’s an absolute delight to drive as it graciously accepts all orders from its captain. With a change from the 3.8liter V6 on the 2008 model, the 2011 is powered by GM’s highly acclaimed 3.9-liter V6. Pumping out a desirable 227 horsepower, it delivers acceleration and performance that will satisfy most drivers and earns a respectable 27 mpg highway economy rating under the more stringent and conservative EPA guidelines. These CXL models come well equipped with heated leather


bucket seats, and a console shift. Standard features include, 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS, Traction Control, driver and passenger head-curtain sideimpact airbags, a tire pressure monitoring system, a leatherwrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, Home-link, and GM’s OnStar, a comforting travel companion to have aboard on long trips and the most user-friendly navigation system on the planet. Push the Blue button and simply speak your destination, even if you’re lost. A satellite pinpoints your location and a friendly voice guides you with turn-by-turn directions until you get there. Buyers will also enjoy the lion’s share remainder of a 4yr/50,000mile bumper-to-bumper warranty that extends to 5 years and 100,000 miles on the power train. This comprehensive warranty is the best out there amongst premium brands. “With vehicles

lasting m u c h longer than they did in the past, folks tend to get their money’s worth with this wa r r a nt y,” explains Fred Jadidian, a 20 year veteran at Suss. “When you compare other luxury models and the warranty they offer, people will definitely see the savings.” Now is the time to re-introduce yourself to the won’t-let-youdown Buick… And leave all preconceptions you may have at the door. A little wheel time in this premium luxury liner will convince you that maybe you really would rather drive a Buick. Where to find: Suss Buick GMC in Aurora of fers a nice selection of Pre-owned 2011 Lucerne’s in a variety of colors at a starting price of $22,981 with NO dealer handling fees. And trades are always welcomed. Suss Buick GMC is located at 1301 South Havana in Aurora. Sales may be reached 303-306-4001 ©B. Debel 2012 Photo for illustration only #C4301


sunday, july 22, 2012 B B the denver post



Studios withhold box-o∞ce reports Warner Bros. is delaying numbers after the tragedy. By Jake Coyle The Associated Press

new york» “The Dark Knight Rises” star Christian Bale said Saturday that his heart goes out to the victims of the Colorado shootings, a tragedy that brought Hollywood studios together in a rare show of solidarity as they opted to give the weekend box office a rest. “Words cannot express the horror that I feel,” said Bale, who plays the Caped Crusader in the film, in a statement. “I cannot begin to truly understand the pain and grief of the victims and their loved ones, but my heart goes out to them.” Meanwhile, Sony, Fox, Disney, Universal, Fox, Paramount and Lionsgate said Saturday that they are joining “Dark Knight Rises” distributor Warner Bros. in withholding their box-office numbers for the weekend. Warner Bros. announced Friday that it would forgo the usual revenue reports until Monday out of respect for the victims and their families in the Aurora shootings that killed 12 and wounded 58 at the midnight show of “The Dark Knight Rises” earlier in the day. Other studios followed suit, and box-office tracking service Rentrak, too, said it would not report figures this weekend. Sunday box-office estimates are a weekly routine for Hollywood, with studios jostling for bragging rights as the No. 1 movie and always aiming to

break revenue records. The box-office performance of “The Dark Knight Rises” had been eagerly anticipated. The film is expected to be among the most lucrative movie openings ever and possibly contend with the record $207.4 million brought in by “The Avengers.” But that now appears unlikely, even though “The Dark Knight Rises” earned $30.6 million from midnight screenings alone. The figure had already been reported from ticket presales. Hollywood trade publications Variety and Hollywood Reporter reported estimates of $75 million to $77 million for the film Friday, based on box-office insiders. That would put it on track for somewhere around $165 million for the weekend. Such a total would be the second-highest weekend opening ever. Any projections, though, are bound to be rough estimates given the nature of the situation. Moviegoers making their way to theaters also faced increased security and, in some places, bag checks. AMC Theaters, the country’s second-largest movie chain, said it would not allow costumed fans or face-covering masks into its theaters. Warner Bros. rushed to react to the tragedy, immediately canceling a Friday-night premiere in Paris. On Saturday, it canceled the other remaining red-carpet extravaganzas in Mexico City and Tokyo. The studio, a subsidiary of Time Warner Inc., also moved to pull trailers from its upcoming film “Gangster Squad” from theaters. The trailer of the film, which stars Sean Penn and


“I cannot begin to truly understand the pain and grief of the victims and their loved ones, but my heart goes out to them.” Christian Bale, who plays Batman in “The Dark Knight Rises”

Ryan Gosling in a ruthless war between Los Angeles police and the mob, includes a scene of mobsters firing into a crowded movie theater from behind the screen. Christopher Nolan, director of “The Dark Knight Rises,” earlier responded to the tragedy, expressing his sorrow for the victims and their families. “The movie theater is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me,” Nolan said.

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the denver post B B sunday, july 22, 2012

“We will do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to try to help (the victims). Everyone has come together as a team to try to do what needs to be done in this community.”



Steve Hogan, Aurora mayor

“I think that overall the community is very, very shaken, and I think we’re in shock, and I think we’re still trying to get our arms around how did such a tragedy happen to us. There’s a lot of hurt. There’s a lot of uncertainty.” State Rep. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora

“If you think we’re angry, we sure as hell are angry about what has happened to our city, what has happened to these wonderful people who live here, and also what he threatened to do to one of our police officers.” Dan Oates, Aurora police chief

“Our hearts go out to those who were involved in this tragedy and to the families and friends of those involved. We are still trying to process this information.”

President Barack Obama

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney

Campaigns take a break, pull ads Obama, Romney silence rhetoric in wake of tragedy By Ken Thomas The Associated Press

washington» The movie theater shooting in Aurora has briefly silenced the presidential campaign, prompting both President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney to cut short their schedules and pull advertising in Colorado out of respect for the victims and their families. Obama said Saturday, in his weekly radio and Internet address, that he hopes everyone takes time this weekend “for prayer and reflection — for the victims of this terrible tragedy, for the people who knew them and loved them, for those who are still struggling to recover.” He said Americans should

James Holmes’ parents, in a statement

“It went very, very well. The threat has not been completely eliminated; it has been significantly reduced.” James Yacone, FBI special agent, about booby-trapped apartment

also think about “all the victims of the less-publicized acts of violence that plague our communities on a daily basis. Let us keep all these Americans in our prayers.” Aides said Obama received updates Saturday from his homeland security adviser, John Brennan, on the investigation into the shooting and the attempts by authorities to gain access to the suspect’s boobytrapped apartment. Obama and Romney used campaign appearances Friday to focus attention on the need for national unity in the aftermath of the shooting. Their campaign teams rescheduled Sunday show appearances by top aides and surrogates, essentially providing a break in

what has been an increasingly testy campaign. The rampage injected a new tone into the campaign after Obama and Romney had clashed over the economy, Medicare and tax returns. Other prominent lawmakers called the shooting a time for unity. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in the Republican address Saturday that lawmakers joined Obama in offering condolences and prayers to the loved ones of those who were killed and wounded. “I know that when confronted with evil we cannot comprehend, Americans pull together and embrace our national family more tightly,” Boehner said.

Yet, beyond the calls for a higher purpose, the shooting could raise the profile of gun rights in the presidential campaign, an issue that has played a minor role so far. “The president believes that we need to take commonsense measures that protect Second Amendment rights of Americans, while ensuring that those who should not have guns under existing law do not get them,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney. Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said the Republican

candidate thinks that the “best way to prevent gun violence is to vigorously enforce our laws.” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in a radio interview, urged the president and his challenger to address gun violence forcefully. “You know, soothing words are nice,” Bloomberg said, “but maybe it’s time that the two people who want to be president of the United States stand up and tell us what they are going to do about it because this is obviously a problem across the country.”

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Aurora theater shooting: The latest news, photo galleries, video, maps and more »



The families, bottom center, arrive at the prayer vigil for the victims of the Century Aurora 16 theater shootings at the Aurora Municipal Center campus in Aurora on Sunday. Joe Amon, The Denver Post

Suspect’s behavior. Weird

Obama: “Good people,” not shooter, will be remembered

phone greeting a clue »2A

By Allison Sherry The Denver Post

Crosses. Aurora, Ill., man

aurora» President Barack Obama spent more than two private hours with injured victims and families at University of Colorado Hospital on Sunday evening before saying in a televised address that it will be the “good people” and the heroic acts that will be remembered in the theater shootings — not the alleged gunman. Solemn, flanked by ashen-faced Colorado politicians and Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates, Obama spoke to reporters at the hospital for about nine minutes before taking off for a series of campaign events on the West Coast. He quoted a passage from the Bible’s book of Revelation that says, in part, that God “will wipe away every tear from their eyes and death shall be no more.” Obama said he came to the victims and the families “not so much as president as I do as a father and as a husband.” The nightmarish, surreal story of what took

Complete coverage Pursuing justice. Prosecutors will most likely seek the death penalty »10A

returns to Colorado to build another memorial »9A

Murphy. “What if his name were ‘Mohammed’?” »9A

Police force. Aurora Police Chief Oates a strong leader during crisis »8A

Advisement hearing James Eagan Holmes, 24, suspected of killing 12 people and wounding 58 others in an Aurora movie theater, is to be advised of charges against him in Arapahoe County court in Centennial at 9:30 a.m. Monday.

By John Ingold, Kurtis Lee and Yesenia Robles The Denver Post


place in Century Aurora 16’s theater 9 resonates, Obama said, because people can easily imagine themselves in the families’ shoes.

aurora» athered shoulder-to-shoulder, leaning forward on tiptoes, overflowing onto sidewalks and into parking lots, a crowd of thousands converged Sunday evening at the Aurora Municipal Center to stand as one. At a vigil to honor the victims of the Century Aurora 16 theater shootings, the scenes in the crowd spoke to the respect of the moment. Little girls carried bouquets of flowers. Small boys in scout uniforms stood self-consciously upright. Adults applauded when Aurora police officers walked by. Most had no personal reason to be there, other than to prove that Aurora — sprawling, diverse, complicated Aurora — is a community united following the tragedy. “I just wanted to come and pay my respects,” said Greg Durfee, who said he lives in Denver but considers Aurora to be his hometown. “I think this is the start of the healing.” “When something tragic and horrific like this happens,” said Bill Stanley, who, along with his wife, Colleen, traveled from Wheat Ridge for the vigil, “it hurts the whole metro-area region. I just wanted to pay respects to the victims, the families,



At a speech Sunday, President Obama shows how Stephanie Davies saved her friend Allie Young’s life by holding pressure on her neck after she was shot. RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post

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People overcome with emotion comfort each other Sunday at a memorial for the 12 people who died after a gunman open fired inside a movie theater in Aurora on Friday. The memorial is at the corner of East Centrepointe Drive and South Sable Boulevard in Aurora. Photos by Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post

Too bizarre for gun club Owner says Holmes not allowed on premises because of “incoherent” voice-mail greeting By Ryan Parker The Denver Post

co, Firearms and Explosives. Residents of the three-story building, where Holmes’ apartment was rigged with explosives that Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said were meant to kill anyone who walked through the door, were not allowed to return home. But police did retrieve whatever belongings people evacuated since Friday needed from inside their homes. Dmitry Shchekochikhin, 27, a student at the Anschutz Medical Campus from Moscow, returned home Sunday at 8 a.m. to retrieve belongings including his laptop, cellphone, passport and medical text books. Shchekochikhin has had a first-floor apartment in the building since November and said he often encountered Holmes. “Whenever I said hello or greeted him, he would never say anything back,” said Shchekochikhin. He said that Holmes wore casual clothing, “nothing special.” A man who lives across the hall from Holmes was not comfortable giving his name for publication, but said Holmes recently dyed his hair red. As police retrieved his belongings, that same neighbor said Holmes had male and female visitors from time to time, but never anyone who drew attention. He also said Holmes was a quiet neighbor, never playing his TV or stereo too loudly. That was true until Thursday night, when Holmes left the stereo turned up loud, with a song playing on repeat. Downstairs neighbor Kaitlyn Fonzi went up to ask him to turn the music

James Eagan Holmes’ behavior and activities in the weeks before the Aurora theater shooting made neighbors and others take notice. Holmes attempted to join a gun club in the eastern Arapahoe County town of Byers on June 25, but his behavior was deemed too bizarre for membership. It wasn’t Holmes’ club application that raised a red flag for Lead Valley Range owner Glenn Rotkovich but rather the outgoing message on his answering machine. “It was this deep, guttural voice, rambling something incoherent,” Rotkovich said. “I thought, ‘What is this idiot trying to be?’ ” Rotkovich said he told his employees Holmes was not allowed on the premises, he said. Had Holmes been allowed on the range, he could have practiced with the guns found in his possession when he was arrested in the back of the Century Aurora 16 movie theater Friday morning. Police say he had an assaultstyle rifle, a shotgun and two .40- caliber handguns. Holmes allegedly set off canisters of noxious gas and then opened fire on a crowd watching the midnight premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises,” killing 12 and wounding 58 others before surrendering to police and telling them there were explosives in his apartment. A federal law enforcement official told The Associated Press that the gunman’s semiautomatic rifle jammed

during the attack, forcing him to switch to another gun. That malfunction and weapons switch may have saved some lives. Since the shooting, police, FBI and ATF agents have been methodically retracing Holmes’ steps as they assem-



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Apartment resident Ben Leung, a University of Colorado medical student, picks up his clothes from an Aurora police officer Sunday. The apartment building where shooting suspect James Holmes lived remains evacuated.

• Because of a reporter’s error, a tweet attributed to actor Alan Rickman that appeared in a story on Page 16A Saturday came from a nonverified Twitter account.

ble evidence in one of the worst mass murders in U.S. history. On Sunday, the door to Holmes’ apartment at 1690 Paris St. in Aurora remained screwed shut as local police awaited special investigators from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobac-

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The Post Editorial: Saying goodbye to the promise and the prospects of those who were killed in Friday’s theater massacre. »21A

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down and found the door slightly ajar. She said Friday that she had reached for the doorknob, but decided not to go in. On Saturday, police and bomb squad personnel removed 30 softball-sized improvised explosive devices in the living room of Holmes’ 800-squarefoot apartment. Although Holmes’ unit had been cleared of explosives, there still may be hazardous materials inside. Police said residents may have to wait until Tuesday to return home. Those dangerous materials, along with magazines for firearms and ammunition, are believed to have been purchased through the mail, not taken from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus where Holmes was a graduate student. Police evacuated two research buildings that Holmes had key-card access to while he was a student in a neurosciences program on the Anschutz Medical Campus on Friday. The buildings were searched by bomb-detection dogs, Oates said. “We did a thorough search of those facilities, and, as we’d hoped, there were no hazards found,” he said. Oates would not specify what materials Holmes had delivered to his home but said they indicated a level of premeditation. “There is some evidence here, I think, of some calculation and deliberation,” Oates said. Ryan Parker: 303-954-2409, or

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Midnight massacre monday, july 23, 2012 B B the denver post



Hick: No law could stop him Gov. John Hickenlooper says tougher gun restrictions would not have deterred Holmes. By Karen E. Crummy The Denver Post

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper expressed skepticism Sunday that tougher gun laws would have stopped suspected gunman James Eagan

Holmes from unleashing “terrorist” acts against 70 people in an Aurora movie theater. “This person, if there were no assault weapons available, if there were no this or no that, this guy’s going to find something, right? He’s going to know how to create a bomb. Who knows where his mind would have gone? Clearly a very intelligent individual, however twisted,” Hickenlooper said during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.” The governor, who appeared on at least three Sunday-morning talk

shows, said his administration “will try to create some checks and balances on these things, but it is an act of evil.” “If it was not one weapon, it would have been another, and he was diabolical,” he said. Hickenlooper, who referred to the alleged gunman as “warped,” a “creature” and a “twisted, really delusional individual,” said Holmes was not cooperating with police. Hickenlooper also said he had no insight into the motive of the alleged gunman who killed 12 and wounded 58 at the midnight premiere of “The Dark

Knight Rises” early Friday. “So far, nothing that I’ve heard. Not an iota, nothing,” the governor said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” When the governor visited victims in area hospitals Saturday, he said he found many exhibiting “buoyancy and resilience.” “They aren’t going to let this define his life,” he said of one victim’s family on “Meet the Press.” “There’s anger, and you want to strangle this guy, but at some point this has to translate to helping the community rise up.”

Hickenlooper said his chief of staff’s daughter took 20 kids to the new Batman movie Saturday night. The shooter “wanted to put fear in people’s lives. And for so many of us, you know, movies are one of the places that we find solace and get away from life,” the governor said on “State of the Union.” “We can’t let him take that away from us.” Karen E. Crummy: 303-954-1594, or

Erika Castano, left, holds hands with Potter’s House Church of Denver parishioners Crystal Vessels — back left, holding up the hand of April Berney — Berney’s son Desmond, 10, and Christina LeDoux. The shooting victims were remembered during a powerful sermon by the church’s pastor, Chris Hill. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post


Prayer helps faithful heal In the wake of the shooting, church services provide comfort to Coloradans.

By Elana Ashanti Jefferson, Kurtis Lee and Kristen Browning-Blas The Denver Post

Few things soothe like the familiar. For parishioners in and around Aurora on Sunday, that meant coming together for worship and perspective in the aftermath of a far-reaching act of public violence. Church leaders rose to the occasion. “You can’t just not mention it,” Eleanor VanDeusen, religious education director for children and youth at Foothills Unitarian Church in Fort Collins, said of Friday’s movie-theater shooting that left 12 dead and dozens more injured. “When these horrific events happen, we really come back to that idea of community and connection.” Sierra Graves, 20, Derrick Poage, 22, and Naya Thompson, 22, went together Friday to see “The Dark Knight Rises” at the Century Aurora 16 theater. After an anxious, sleepless weekend and several national media interviews, the friends were together again Sunday, calm and composed, for an uplifting 11 a.m. service at Restoration Christian Fellowship, about 2 miles from the shooting site. The service began with 20 minutes of prayer and reflection around the massacre. “In spite of the circumstances and tragedy, God, you are good all the time,” said Magnification Pastor Tracy Herrera to the roughly 300 in atten-

dance. “We pray for the families, Father, that you send them comfort, peace and love.” Fellow church elder Derrick Washington added that it was hard to ignore thoughts of his own family when he heard about the shooting. But “(the devil) will not have the victory over our community,” Washington said. “So we pray for our city, and pray for those who are hurting this morning. We pray for those who are in fear, and those who are questioning their faith.” Those words, along with gospel rock and spirituals delivered by an impressive choir and three-piece jazz band — usually larger, but several players sneaked off to the weekend’s Winter Park Jazz Festival — gave solace to the trio of young people present who had witnessed the shooting firsthand. “The prayer helped a lot,” said Poage, a junior and track-team member at Western State College of Colorado. “It gave me strength.” Although he had no personal connection to the shooting, Clarence Hollimon, 40, was unable to hold back tears during the service. “Life is precious,” he said. “This was just sad.” Tears also flowed at Aurora’s Colorado Community Church, where shooting victim Gordon Cowden, 51, regularly attended services. This megachurch of about 2,300 members is less than 3 miles from the theater. It is where Cowden’s funeral will be held this week, lead pastor Robert Gelinas said. “All the victims had moms and dads,

Joyce Young hugs her grandson Justin Haynes 13, after prayers were said for the shooting victims during Sunday services at the Restoration Christian Fellowship Church in Aurora. Joe Amon, The Denver Post brothers and sisters. We need to lift them all up,” Gelinas told the more than 600 who attended the service. The attendees were young and old, black, white and Latino. Some wore suits, others jeans. During prayer, as the choir sang the hymn “Lord Have Mercy,” many people leaned on one another and dabbed at damp faces with tissues. Hugs were plentiful. Gelinas noted that the alleged gunman, James Eagan Holmes, 24, also has a mom and dad. “We must pray for them,” he said. And he acknowledged the congregation’s shared loss. “(Gordon Cowden) loved to come here with his two daughters,” Gelinas said over amplified sobbing. At Aurora’s Queen of Peace Catholic Church, just less than 2 miles from the Century Aurora 16 theater, the Rev. Mauricio Bermudez gave his homily before a line of news cameras. “The tears you are crying now are the tears of Jesus, because when those people were murdered, he was with them,” Bermudez said. “When those people were hurt, Jesus was hurt.”

Bermudez is a movie lover who had planned to attend “The Dark Knight Rises” premiere along with his youth ministry at the theater. But the shows sold out before he was able to buy tickets. The group ended up at another theater. “I think the Lord has protected us because we didn’t get a ticket to that place, but many others weren’t that lucky,” he said. At the multidenominational Pathways Church Denver, the median age of the congregation is between 24 and 28 years old — around the same age as many of the victims of the shooting. “Our lead pastor will definitely speak about how to deal with suffering and loss,” said Worship Pastor Ken Elsner. “And absolutely we will pray for the victims and their families.” Emergency personnel were included in those prayers at Christ the Servant Lutheran Church in Louisville. “We pray for all the victims and their families of the shooting in Aurora,” as-

sisting minister Maureen Kanwischer said. “We pray for the police, firefighters and medical caregivers. We pray for the shooter and his family. We pray for peace and an end to senseless violence, and for your love to wrap all of us in your arms during this difficult time.” As he prepared for the three Sunday services at Timberline Church in Fort Collins, Executive Pastor Rob Cowles knew he would need to address the fear surrounding the shooting in Aurora. “I think that any time something like this happens, people look for why — what could possibly possess someone to do something so horrific?” he asked. “... I don’t know why, but I know our world is broken. So I try to point people toward hope.” Cowles said he struggled with whether to bring the gunman into his prayer. “You pray that God can somehow penetrate that wall of darkness in this person,” he concluded. Statewide, religious services reflected Colorado’s communal shock over the shooting. “We light a candle to remember the lives blown out … by this senseless violence,” Senior Pastor Chris Hill said as he lit 12 candles during the service at the Potter’s House Church of Denver, about 5 miles from the shooting site. “In Jesus’ name, we light a candle and curse the darkness.” Melissa Johnson, 33, of Denver, felt the power of Sunday’s Potter’s House sermon. “We have powerful services a lot,” Johnson said. “But today was different. Today felt different.” Staff writers Joseph Nguyen, Sarah Simmons and Torin Berge contributed to this report. To reach the writers : 303-954-1957, or, or 303-954-1655, or

Slide shows: More images from church services honoring dp the Aurora shooting victims »


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Jon Blunk

AJ Boik

Jesse Childress

VIGIL «FROM 1A the police officers, just everyone who had to deal directly with this sad event.” The vigil featured speeches by Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan and Gov. John Hickenlooper, as well as several religious leaders. Hogan spoke of refusing to allow the tragedy to define the city. Hickenlooper told stories of heroism amid the attack: of an Aurora police officer who drove six wounded victims to the hospital in his patrol car, of a woman outside the theater who used a belt to apply a tourniquet to a stranger’s wounds. “The outpouring of light and love,” Hickenlooper said one shooting survivor told him, “is so much more powerful than any darkness.”

Gordon Cowden

Jessica Ghawi

John Larimer

As Hickenlooper read the names of the 12 killed in the shooting, the crowd shouted, “We will remember” after each one. AnneMarie Rossi of Denver came to the vigil with her daughter Malia, 12, and 9 year-old son Kaden. All three carried signs that read, “One Love Colorado. Share the Love.” “I wanted my kids to come so I could teach them that the only way to fight evil is to do good,” Rossi said. Which is just what Mary Lenhart did as she entered the lawn where the vigil

Micayla Medek

Matt McQuinn

was taking place. She stopped to say thanks to a group of eight Aurora police officers standing nearby. “They put their lives on the line every day. And what they had to see at that theater is just too much to comprehend,” Lenhart said, her voice cracking with emotion. “I just had to let them know how much they mean to everyone. I’m so grateful for them.” Sgt. Steve White, one of the officers Lenhart thanked — and who was among the officers called to the theater Friday after the shooting — said

Veronica MoserSullivan

Alex Sullivan

he appreciated the support. “It’s just a senseless act,” White said. “These past few days have just been overwhelming.” Kronda Seibert wore a T-shirt with a Batman logo on it. At her feet was a homemade sign depicting a silhouette of Batman, bowing with sunken shoulders in front of a remembrance ribbon. “There’s a little bit of Batman in all of us,” said Seibert, who is from Aurora and knows friends of friends affected by the tragedy. “We all have the ability to rise above what has happened to us

We all have the ability to rise above what has happened to us and become heroes.” Kronda Seibert of Aurora

Alexander Teves

Rebecca Ann Wingo

and become heroes.” Then there was 11-year-old Byron Allen, who held a sign saying, “Real heroes don’t wear capes.” His mother, Jennifer Allen, said she and Byron go to the movies at the Century Aurora 16 theater at least twice a month. “I’m here,” Byron said, “because there’s this little 6-year-old girl, and I feel bad this person killed her. I’m also giving her a puppy, a stuffed dog.” The vigil closed as the sun slipped from beneath a cloud and dropped below the mountains with the crowd singing “Amazing Grace” in unison. After a vigil of tears and hugs, cheers and harmony, it seemed only one thing remained unsaid: the name of the shooting suspect. John Ingold: 303-954-1068, or

President Obama’s remarks

After meeting with several shooting victims at the University of Colorado Hospital Sunday, President Barack Obama thanked Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates for his work. RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post

OBAMA «FROM 1A “We can all understand what it would be like to have someone that we love taken from us in this fashion,” he said. Obama didn’t mention the alleged gunman, James Eagan Holmes, by name, saying that though there was a lot of attention on him now, eventually that notoriety will fade. “In the end, after he has felt the full force of our justice system, what will be remembered are the good people who were impacted by this tragedy,” Obama said. Jordan Ghawi, brother of victim Jessica Ghawi, tweeted after the meeting: “Sat down with President Obama. He has been incredible. He too has agreed not to mention the shooter’s name.” The victims’ families gathered at the hospital, and Obama reportedly

moved from cluster to cluster, speaking to them mostly about happy memories of those killed. His visit ran about an hour longer than planned. “The staff kept trying to drag him out, and he wouldn’t be dragged out,” Gov. John Hickenlooper said. Sunday’s trip was the second time Obama has traveled to Colorado this summer because of tragedy. He visited Colorado Springs at the end of June to thank volunteers and firefighters who fought the devastating Waldo Canyon fire. The president, who is in a tough race with GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, will continue to suspend election politics, including television ads, in Colorado through this week. Romney on Sunday praised Obama’s handling of the tragedy, saying visiting families was the “right thing.” Obama told a story of Allie Young, 19, who was shot in the neck, and her friend Stephanie Davies, whose quick thinking, he said, likely saved Young’s life.

After Young was shot, Davies pulled her out of harm’s way and held her fingers to her friend’s neck to slow the bleeding, Obama said. Young apparently told Davies to flee, but she refused, staying with Young and pulling her out of the aisle until the shooting stopped. Aurora Police Chief Oates, who was with the president during his three-hour trip, appeared to choke up at that detail. “Because of Stephanie’s timely actions, I just had a conversation with Allie downstairs, and she is going to be fine,” Obama said. “As heartbreaking as it is for the families, it’s worth us spending most of our time reflecting on young Americans like Allie and Stephanie, because they represent what’s best in us, and they assure us that out of this darkness a brighter day is going to come.” Allison Sherry: 202-662-8907, or

Condolences from the Aurora tragedy memorial vigil “It was almost like God picked some of the most vibrant and alive people and took them away from us. … To the families, we remain here for you. Colorado is here for you and always will be.” — Gov. John Hickenlooper ••• “This horrific incident touches all of Aurora. This is one of those moments that test us as a community, a state and a country. For Aurora, this is also one of those moments that brings out the best in

our community and us as individuals. … We will reclaim our city in the name of goodness, kindness and compassion.” — Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan ••• “I just wanted to come and pay my respects. I think this is the start of the healing.” — Greg Durfee of Denver, who considers Aurora to be his hometown ••• “The way Aurora, Colorado and the nation have come together in

the wake of this tragedy is a testament to our strength and our resolve to not let one act of terror define us. Today’s vigil is a tribute to what makes Colorado and our nation great: its people. The victims of this terrible crime, and their families, continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. I hope all Americans will be as inspired by tonight’s vigil as I am.” — Sen. Mark Udall, in a statement after the vigil

Good afternoon, everybody. I want to begin by just thanking all the state, local and federal officials who have responded magnificently to this tragedy. Governor Hickenlooper, who has already been dealing with a range of natural disasters here in the state, has been an extraordinary example of strength. The Mayor, who has only been on the job seven months, and obviously has responded with great strength and leadership. The Police Chief, who — we had an opportunity to speak over the phone — Chief Oates has been dealing with as difficult a set of circumstances as any law enforcement officer deals with, and he and his officers have done everything right, by the book, with great courage and great determination. And so we are very proud of them. And I think I speak for the entire congressional delegation who is here as well. Scripture says that “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more. Neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And when you have an opportunity to visit with families who have lost their loved ones — as I described to them, I come to them not so much as President as I do as a father and as a husband. And I think that the reason stories like this have such an impact on us is because we can all understand what it would be to have somebody that we love taken from us in this fashion — what it would be like and how it would impact us. I had a chance to visit with each family, and most of the conversation was filled with memory. It was an opportunity for families to describe how wonderful their brother, or their son, or daughter was, and the lives that they have touched, and the dreams that they held for the future. I confessed to them that words are always inadequate in these kinds of situations, but that my main task was to serve as a representative of the entire country and let them know that we are thinking about them at this moment and will continue to think about them each and every day, and that the awareness that not only all of America but much of the world is thinking about them might serve as some comfort. I also tried to assure them that although the perpetrator of this evil act has received a lot of attention over the last couple of days, that attention will fade away. And in the end, after he has felt the full force of our justice system, what will be remembered are the good people who were impacted by this tragedy. And I also had a chance to give folks some hugs and to shed some tears, but also to share some laughs as they remembered the wonderful lives that these men and women represented. I also had a chance, fortunately, to visit some folks who are going to be OK, thanks to the extraordinary efforts of the staff at this hospital. And I just want to thank everybody who’s worked tirelessly here to deal with this tragedy. Some of the stories are remarkable. You see young people who’ve come in and just two days ago, or 36 hours ago, or even 24 hours ago, it wasn’t certain whether they’d make it. And now suddenly, their eyes are open, they’re alert and they’re talking. And it reminds you that even in the dark-

est of days, life continues, and people are strong and people bounce back and people are resilient. And particularly, given the fact that so many of the victims were young, it is a great blessing to see how rapidly they’re able to recover from some pretty devastating injuries. There’s one particular story I want to tell because this was the last visit that I had and I think it’s representative of everything that I saw and heard today. I had a chance, just now, about five minutes ago, to visit with Allie Young — Allie is 19 years old — and I also had a chance to visit with Allie’s best friend, Stephanie Davies, who’s 21. Stephanie was actually downstairs with Allie as well as Allie’s parents when I walked into the room. And I don’t think this story has been heard — at least I hadn’t read it yet — but I wanted to share it with you. When the gunman initially came in and threw the canisters, he threw them only a few feet away from Allie and Stephanie, who were sitting there watching the film. Allie stood up, seeing that she might need to do something or at least warn the other people who were there. And she was immediately shot. And she was shot in the neck, and it punctured a vein, and immediately she started spurting blood. And apparently, as she dropped down on the floor, Stephanie — 21 years old — had the presence of mind to drop down on the ground with her, pull her out of the aisle, place her fingers over where she — where Allie had been wounded, and applied pressure the entire time while the gunman was still shooting. Allie told Stephanie she needed to run. Stephanie refused to go — instead, actually, with her other hand, called 911 on her cell phone. Once the SWAT team came in, they were still trying to clear the theater. Stephanie then, with the help of several others, carries Allie across two parking lots to where the ambulance is waiting. And because of Stephanie’s timely actions, I just had a conversation with Allie downstairs, and she is going to be fine. I don’t know how many people at any age would have the presence of mind that Stephanie did, or the courage that Allie showed. And so, as tragic as the circumstances of what we’ve seen today are, as heartbreaking as it is for the families, it’s worth us spending most of our time reflecting on young Americans like Allie and Stephanie, because they represent what’s best in us, and they assure us that out of this darkness a brighter day is going to come. To the entire community of Aurora, the country is thinking of you. I know that there’s going to be a vigil and an opportunity for everybody to come together. And I hope that all those who are in attendance understand that the entire country will be there in prayer and reflection today. So thank you. God bless you. God bless all who helped to respond to this tragedy. And I hope that over the next several days, next several weeks, and next several months, we all reflect on how we can do something about some of the senseless violence that ends up marring this country, but also reflect on all the wonderful people who make this the greatest country on Earth. Thank you very much, everybody.


the denver post B B

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Midnight massacre «7A

a crowd convenes. Thousands gather for a prayer vigil for the victims of the mass shooting at an Aurora movie theater at the Aurora Municipal Center on Sunday. AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post


loved one is mourned. Family members of Micayla Medek, one of the Aurora theater shooting victims, comfort one another at the community vigil Sunday at the Aurora Municipal Center. A crowd of thousands paid their respects at the vigil, some carrying homemade signs decorated with prayers and inspirational messages. Aaron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

honoring a fellow soldier. Commanding Officer Jeffrey Jakuboski, second from right, and other servicemen pay their respects to John Larimer at a memorial in his honor. Larimer was a petty officer 3rd class in the Navy. His shipmates and commanding officers attended the prayer vigil Sunday at the Aurora Municipal Center to honor those who died in Friday’s shooting rampage. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

Scenes of the day. Photos of the thousands who gathered to pay their respects and President Barack Obama’s visit to Aurora on Sunday. »

a gesture of comfort. A woman and her daughter leave flowers and American flags at a makeshift memorial for Friday’s victims at Aurora Municipal Center on Sunday. Numerous elected officials and clergy members spoke words of comfort and healing for the victims, their families and loved ones, and the DenverAurora community at Sunday’s prayer vigil. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post


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Aurora police chief shows strength during crisis Dan Oates’ colleagues say he’s the best leader to have in tough times. By Carlos Illescas The Denver Post

aurora »You could see the sadness in his eyes, the vulnerability of a veteran cop left to explain the acts of a mad gunman who terrorized what should have been a safe haven in his city. Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates stood at the podium at a Friday evening briefing at the Aurora Municipal Center and, maybe for the first time, revealed the real Chief Oates. He has spoken to the media before in high-profile press conferences — when an officer died in the line of duty, the disappearance and presumed death of little Aarone Thompson, to name a few. But this time was different. He was different. Oates was more raw than he has been in the past, more honest in showing his feelings — anger, sadness, defiance — about the horrific shooting at an Aurora movie theater that killed 12 people and wounded 58 others. He was more real than the public has ever seen. Maybe it was the gravity of the situation, maybe a new City Council and mayor have given the chief the feeling

Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates walks to a press conference in Town Center at Aurora on Friday. Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post of more freedom. Whatever the reason, now the world is learning about the man who has become one of the faces of the theater shooting Oates’ emotional press conference came as no surprise to former Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier. He worked closely with the chief when Frazier was chairman of the city’s pub-


lic safety committee. “What you guys saw ... I’ve had a chance to see for some time — the passion and how much he cares for the work in the department,” Frazier said. “It shows what kind of police chief he is.” Oates isn’t afraid of challenges. He has an English degree from Buck-

nell University and was the editor of the school’s newspaper and yearbook. After graduation, he worked as a reporter and an editor and later took a job as a beat cop in the New York Police Department. He climbed his way to the top of the department to become the executive deputy chief in Brooklyn, N.Y. Oates, now 57, retired from that job to head the Ann Arbor, Mich. police department. Wanting the challenges of a big-city police department, Oates came to the Aurora Police Department in November 2005, a force that was in a bit of turmoil. There were racial tensions bubbling among the community about the police department. The relationship between the department and the district attorney’s office wasn’t the best, either. And he had to deal with the aftermath of a botched investigation involving serial rapist Brent Brents. But Oates has helped improve confidence in the department by reaching out to minority communities. He has streamlined operations while facing dwindling revenue. His work this week is evidence of his growth as a police chief. He is a leader, those who know him say, the one the Aurora community needs right now. “This department and this police chief are doing absolutely everything the right way,” Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan said. “I’ve just been impressed

by his devotion to this city and this department.” Oates is very decisive, say his friends, and not afraid of making tough decisions for fear of criticism. “He doesn’t always worry about making friends,” Hogan said. “He worries about what needs to be done and how it needs to be done.” While Oates was still a cop, he graduated from New York Law School in 1986. Despite long hours and his busy schedule, Oates still keeps up to date with that, too. Oates is a regular at monthly Adams County’s legal update sessions. Adams County District Attorney Don Quick recalled seeing Oates there recently. “There he was eating pizza, watching training instruction with the rest of us,” Quick said. Oates was with the New York Police Department when the 9/11 terrorist attacks hit his community. Now he is facing another unthinkable tragedy. But the right man is in place, say those who know him. “Dan Oates is the type of police chief you want in a crisis like this,” Quick said. Carlos Illescas: 303-954-1175, or Staff writer Jeremy P. Meyer contributed to this report.


Radio dispatchers struggled to keep order during tragedy By Chuck Murphy The Denver Post

aurora» Listening to the recordings from Friday morning’s massacre, you would think dispatcher Kathie Stauffer felt no emotion as she calmly directed resources to the movie theater where scores were injured and a dozen killed. Her voice betrayed nothing. Her demeanor was calm. She was unruffled. On the outside. Inside, she was roiling as officers pleaded for additional resources — gas masks, more help, ambulances and care for dying 6-year-old Veronica Moser-Sullivan. “Every call with a kid, I’m thinking of my own,” Stauffer, mother of a 9-year-old girl and a 15-yearold boy, said Sunday night in an interview with The Denver Post. “That’s really what I’m struggling with now — to not think about my own daughter every time.” Thursday night had been even less than routine. Stauffer, working channel 2 of three Aurora dispatch channels, had seen little emergency traffic in the area for which she was responsible. “My screen was very empty,” she said. All at once, around 12:40 a.m. Friday, it blew up. From across the room, Stauffer could hear call takers responding to wave upon wave of 911 calls for help from the Century Aurora 16 multiplex. “They’re saying somebody is shooting in the auditorium,” Stauffer calmly relayed over the radio to officers 315 and 314. Five feet away, fellow dispatcher Cheri Brungardt had a feeling. “Something in me said I should start some of mine (officers) that way,” said Brungardt, 32. “So I did.” Only a couple minutes passed before the call was out for every officer in Aurora to head to the theater near Aurora Town Center mall. For the next five hours, Stauffer would be responsible for getting assets where they were needed, and Brungardt would be her constant voice of reassurance and support — and backup in dealing with the fire and rescue dispatchers across an aisle from them. But getting officers what they wanted was not as easy as it normally is for Stauffer and Brungardt. The scene was so vast, and so devastated, that Aurora did not have enough gear to answer all the calls, and other agencies just couldn’t get there fast enough. “Our job is to send help, and the guys we sent to help were calling for help, and we couldn’t help them,” Stauffer, 39, said. “Normally, they get on the radio and the magic dispatcher gets them what they need. This time, they kept calling. They needed help and they couldn’t get it.” Stauffer, Brungardt and others in the center are now struggling with a form of survivor’s guilt. They wonder if they did all they could. The city brought counselors in Friday night for a debriefing. Both dispatchers now say they feel better, but know it will take time to get over the awful night. Stauffer hasn’t yet been back on dispatch duty for the police department, drawing fire duty instead, but she knows the time will come. Soon. “It’s just like anything you’re scared of,” she said. “You just have to face it and get through it.” Kathie Stauffer, Aurora dispatcher, talks about her experience working during Friday night’s massacre in the Aurora dispatch office Sunday. Heather Rousseau, The Denver Post

An Aurora Police Department detective takes a witness statement early Friday morning after responding to a mass shooting at the Century Aurora 16 movie theater. For first responders, training takes over when dealing with chaotic, tragic situations. Karl Gehring, The Denver Post

“I felt for them” Columbine veteran: First responders may face lasting pain By Tom McGhee The Denver Post

As news spread of the mass murder at an Aurora movie theater, Joe Tennant’s heart sank, and memories of carnage at Columbine High School in 1999 flooded back. “When the event started unfolding, it took me right back to Columbine, it opened some old wounds,” the Denver police bomb squad member said Sunday. “At Columbine I saw all the carnage firsthand,” he said, as two students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, went on a rampage that left 13 dead and 24 injured, before the two committed suicide. “I knew what those officers were facing. I knew going into the theater was going to be horrific and I felt for them so much,” said Tennant. But in short order Tenant, 56, was at the apartment of the alleged shooter James Eagan Holmes, 24, trying to dismantle a welter of explosive devices. Holmes was arrested at the Century 16 theater in Aurora early Friday morning after a shooting at the premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises” in which 12 people died and 58 were injured.

When arrested, Holmes told police there were explosives in his apartment, at 1690 Paris St. in Aurora, and investigators found a complex web of booby traps in the apartment. Tennant on Friday worked as part of a team to methodically unravel the explosive puzzle. When police officers and other first responders confront slaughter their training kicks in and they do their jobs, said retired Denver homicide Detective Jon Priest. “They are trained to be effective responding to these critical incidents,” said Priest, who aided in the Columbine investigation and was on the scene when the shooting at the school in Jefferson County ended. “In order for me to be effective I have to take my emotions out of it right now, I can deal with those emotions later,” he said. For the uniformed law enforcement officers who must secure the scene, the events can be especially difficult, Priest said. When they arrive, they confront chaos, and don’t know if those responsible are lying in wait for them. Whether they are officers, paramedics or firefighters, first responders don’t have time to prepare themselves for the things they must witness, said John Nicoletti, a psychologist who

works with local police departments. “This type of situation is too much, too ugly, too soon. The enormity of the situation overpowers the brain,” Nicoletti said. “They don’t have the opportunity to prepare for this. They are helping people while at the same time they are overpowered with the enormity … that is where training takes over and resiliency. ” Paramedics and others who wait until police secure the scene may have time to prepare for what they will witness, but the delay may not prevent them from being haunted, Nicoletti said. Nightmares about Columbine troubled Tennant for a time after he worked on the case. They still surface occasionally, he said. His wife, who watched as he listened to early reports of the Aurora massacre, told him that his demeanor changed drastically, he said. “It is something that can never be wiped from your mind,” Tennant said. “All I can do is encourage people to talk and try to get some help and not be the tough guy and keep so many of those emotions inside.” Tom McGhee: 303-954-1671, or


the denver post B B

monday, july 23, 2012

Midnight massacre «9A


Where to find help

Travis Hirko kneels at Alex Sullivan’s cross at a memorial for the victims of the Aurora shooting at the intersection of South Sable Boulevard and East Centrepoint Drive on Sunday. The markers were built by a man who did something similar for the Columbine victims. Photos by AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

Crosses honor dead Illinois man builds temporary markers in memory of theater victims By Karen E. Crummy The Denver Post

aurora» It took Greg Zanis 16 hours to drive from Aurora, Ill., to a dirt hill across the street from Aurora Town Center and begin putting up crosses in tribute to the 12 people killed inside the Century 16 theater. And as quickly as he anchored the 3foot-tall crosses in the dirt and wrote the names of the dead in black marker, people came to lay flowers and other remembrances at their bases. The cross for U.S. Navy veteran Jon Blunk had a folded American flag. Somebody placed a tiny pink bear at the foot of the cross for 6-year-old Veronica Moser-Sullivan. A red and black baseball cap was left for Alexander “AJ” Boik. Zanis began building memorial crosses in 1997, after seeing his fatherin-law and best friend gunned down. In 1999, he came to Colorado after the Columbine High School shootings and erected 15 crosses for those who died. On Sunday, he said he acted because he was so disturbed by hearing the name of the accused shooter, James Eagan Holmes, again and again. Holmes is accused of entering a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises,” tossing canisters of noxious gas and

Greg Zanis, of Aurora, Ill., carries crosses he built in memory of the Aurora shooting victims Sunday. Zanis has put up similar crosses in other places marked by tragedy, including a Wisconsin hotel where seven people died. opening fire with three weapons. Twelve people died and 58 were injured Friday morning. Zanis said he made the crosses to elevate the names of the dead above the

name of the person who investigators believe killed them. “All of our hearts are bleeding,” Zanis said as he put up the crosses. “He has taken away our security of going to

a public place.” Zanis said he hopes the families of the victims will feel free to take the crosses, now standing at the corner of East Centrepoint Drive and South Sable Boulevard, and use them to temporarily mark the graves of their loved ones. “These crosses are for them,” Zanis said of the families. “We love them. We are not going to pretend we know what you are going through, but we wanted to represent your children.” After Zanis built crosses for Columbine, they were taken down because they were placed on public property, and one of the victims’ father tore down the two dedicated to the teenage gunmen who killed themselves in the massacre. Zanis used to run an organization called Crosses for Losses, but it was unclear whether that was still intact Sunday. He has put up crosses in other places marked by tragedy over the past 10 years, including outside a Wisconsin hotel in 2005 where a man killed seven others at a church service. Karen E. Crummy:, 303-9541594, or

Slide shows: Additional images from the shooting scene, hospitals and more. » mediacenter

Video: Raw video of theatergoers escaping, witness interviews, investigators in action and more. » theatershooting

Map: Detailing key locations — the theater, hospitals and the suspect’s apartment. » theatershootings


All of our hearts are bleeding. (James Holmes) has taken away our security of going to a public place.”

Manning reaches out to those hurt in shooting

Greg Zanis, who installed memorial crosses for the victims of Columbine in 1999 and who has put up 12 crosses for those killed in the Aurora theater shooting

By The Associated Press

Allison Sherry contributed to this report.


What if his name were “Mohammed”? By Chuck Murphy The Denver Post

aurora» n 2009, Najibullah Zazi sent three e-mails from his Aurora apartment to a suspected terrorist in Pakistan asking about the ingredients necessary to bake something for an upcoming marriage. Within hours, the Federal Bureau of Investigation was on to him. Agents monitored his calls. They followed him across the country. They became particularly alarmed when they learned he had purchased large quantities of hydrogen peroxide, a hair dye. Almost three years later and 15 miles away, James Eagan Holmes was filling his home with armament. He had regular deliveries of ammunition for a military-style AR-15 rifle, two handguns and a shotgun he purchased over the course of 60 days. There were about 6,000 rounds in all, another 300 shotgun shells and a high-capacity drum for the rifle. In all, it amounted to more than 200 pounds of ordnance. All of it legal. None of it, apparently, noticed by or reported to police. None of it the slightest bit disconcerting to ammunition suppliers, delivery drivers or neighbors.


Need help processing the tragedy? Or do you wish to help out financially? Here are several resources:, a safe and secure online vehicle of the Community First Foundation, is helping those who wish to find nonprofits that are assisting the victims and the families. The featured nonprofits include Aurora Mental Health Center, Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network, Mental Health America of Colorado, Bonfils Blood Center Foundation, Metro Crisis Services Inc., Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance and Denver Center for Crime Victims. Children’s Hospital Colorado has opened a family support line, 720-777-2300. Aurora Mental Health Center offers its support by having trained counselors available by phone, 303-617-2300.

The contrast between the rapid response and monitoring of Zazi and the lack of citizen interest in Holmes is not lost on some in Colorado’s Islamic community. “This guy literally arms himself to the teeth by mail order without anyone pointing a finger and saying, ‘What’s going on?’ ” asked Imam Ibrahim Kazerooni, a little incredulous. “If my name is Ibrahim or Mohammed and I order a gun or that much ammunition on the Internet, I think within a few hours of the delivery, the FBI and CIA is at my house.” Important note: Kazerooni is not suggesting the FBI was wrong to investigate Zazi (nor am I). As it turned out, “marriage” was terrorist-speak for “suicide bombing.” I am glad the people who monitor the inboxes and outboxes of alQaeda operatives in Pakistan are aware of such linguistic deceptions. But Kazerooni, an Iraqi by birth, a former political prisoner of Saddam Hussein and a thoughtful, eloquent representative of Denver’s Muslim community, is advocating for investigational parity — for nosy neighbors and police officers. He is well aware that much of global terrorism is led by those who have his faith but not his approval. Still, as Fri-

day morning’s theater massacre made plain, terrorists take a lot of forms. One of them, police believe, is the form of a Ph.D. candidate from the University of Colorado Denver. The fact that neighbors and delivery drivers seem to have failed to notice as Holmes amassed his weapons and ammunition and booby-trapped his apartment, while, for example, New York City police actively loiter in Muslim coffee shops to collect intelligence, is indicative of the greater scrutiny Muslims face in our society in the years since Sept. 11, 2001, Kazerooni said. “There is the general feeling that exists in the U.S. Muslim community that they are marginalized and treated differently,” Kazerooni said. “The foundation for this is real. There are a number of examples in the country that have led to this cynicism.” Now, knowing what police say he did, it is easy to view Holmes as a clear threat to himself or others. His oncepromising future was suddenly cloudy as he was struggling in school. He shut himself off from much of the world. He began buying guns and ammo in large quantities. He may have dyed his hair a color not found in nature. Kazerooni is likely right. If Holmes

were Iranian-American, or AfghanAmerican, his purchases, his apparent withdrawal and his plans probably would have been noticed by neighbors, reported and investigated. Not fair. Just true. But the lack of notice paid to Holmes probably goes beyond ethnicity or religion. He was a doctoral student with limitless potential. Like Unabomber Ted Kaczynski or Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho, he just doesn’t fit our prejudiced societal criteria for suspicion. And so we ask: Should there be a shared database to flag authorities to large ammunition purchases when someone suddenly ramps up their arsenal? Would that serve as a backstop for a society given to the bias that certain people just aren’t capable of mass violence? Would it even be legal? Would it be effective? Creation of such a database would only lead to other troubling questions, the biggest of which would be: How many bullets and shells are too many bullets and shells? For the Batman fans in theaters 8 and 9 Friday morning, the answer is 70. Chuck Murphy: 303-954-1829, or

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is calling hospitalized victims of the Aurora theater shooting to lift their spirits. A spokeswoman for the Medical Center of Aurora says that Manning spoke one-on-one by phone on Saturday afternoon with several patients brought there after the shooting. On Sunday, six other players — Eric Decker, Ryan Clady, Chris Kuper, Joe Mays, Jacob Tamme and Ben Garland — plus recently retired safety Brian Dawkins, met with four survivors and their families. The players also talked with emergency room and ICU staff, thanking them for their response and care. Kuper, too, got into a laugh with one of the survivors who is a former college football player who played against Kuper in a college playoff game. Turns out, Kuper’s North Dakota team college team won that matchup. Fifty-eight people were wounded after a gunman clad in bulletproof gear opened fire in the Century Aurora 16 theater early Friday during a showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.” Twelve people died in the mass shooting. The four-time MVP Manning, who signed with the Broncos this year after missing the 2011 season because of injury, was among the first Broncos players to reach out to help.


monday, july 23, 2012 B B the denver post



Few options for alleged shooter’s defense team By Jennifer Brown The Denver Post

The fate of the man who allegedly fired into a crowded Aurora movie theater depends mostly on this question: Was it the act of a madman living in his own reality or that of a calculating, cold-blooded killer? Prosecutors likely will seek the death penalty for James Eagan Holmes, 24, who is accused of killing 12 people and wounding 58 during a midnight showing of the new Batman movie Friday, numerous lawyers said Sunday. And, they said, his attorneys are almost sure to pursue an insanity defense. “You just have to imagine that there is something in his psychiatric makeup that will be exploited by his defense team,” said former Adams County District Attorney Bob Grant. “I don’t know what the hell else they are going to say.” Defense attorneys typically use misidentification — the “itwasn’t-me” defense — or claim a murder was justified in selfdefense. “Neither of those is going to be available, to put it mildly,” said Peter Hedeen, who represented Colorado death- row inmate Robert Ray. It could take six months or more before the Arapahoe County district attorney’s office announces a decision on whether to seek death for Holmes, accused of one of the most horrific mass killings in U.S. history. “If in fact he is sane, it’s a hopeless case for the defense,” said Scott Robinson, a Denver legal analyst. “They caught him literally gunpowder-handed with his weapons, with his tactical gear. They clearly have the right man.”

The public defenders assigned to Holmes’ case — Daniel King and Tamara Brady — are expected to seek a competency evaluation to determine whether Holmes is capable of assisting his defense team. If not, a judge could send him to the state mental hospital in Pueblo. If he is competent to stand trial, Holmes’ lawyers will file a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity at his arraignment, experts predicted. “There are some crimes, the nature of which just scream out ‘crazy.’ This is one of those cases,” said lawyer David Lane, who has represented 25 people charged with death-penalty offenses. Lane said that based on news reports of Holmes’ behavior, intelligence, age and lack of a criminal record, his defense lawyers might construct a case that he has schizophrenia, a mental illness that makes it hard to tell what is real. “This looks like the guy is crazy,” Lane said. “If you are seriously mentally ill, the death penalty is not going to be on the table.” Insane, by the legal definition, means lacking the ability to know right from wrong at the time of the crime. It’s not related to intelligence. It’s not the same as evil, experts cautioned. Holmes, a neuroscience student, allegedly planned the massacre for months, amassing ammunition and weapons and booby-trapping his apartment, but it’s possible his mind resided in his own version of reality, legal experts said. “Maybe he believed he was Batman,” said Phil Cherner, a longtime Denver criminal-defense attorney who represents death-row inmate Nathan Dun-

lap, convicted of killing four people at an Aurora Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in 1993. “Do they have a case against a defendant who is mentally ill, or is this a cold-blooded killer?” Cherner asked. The fact Holmes surrendered to officers without incident outside the movie theater makes it seem “he didn’t see anything wrong with what he was doing,” Cherner said, calling the idea just a “hunch.” Holmes’ lawyers will try as hard as they can to keep the case from going to trial, pursuing instead a plea deal that would ensure he spends life in prison, said Denver defense attorney Dan Recht. But for prosecutors to consider such a deal, defense attorneys would need evidence of mental illness or serious emotional damage in Holmes’ past, such as a claim he was tortured as a child. “It will be very difficult to persuade a jury that he is insane, because a jury will understand that’s a way of him escaping full responsibility,” Recht said. “The prosecution will be aware of that and will think that increases their odds significantly of getting a death penalty.” If the state seeks death, Holmes’ sentencing is two to four years away, attorneys said. Regardless of any possible mental-health claims, the political pressure to seek an execution will be massive, experts said. “If you don’t pursue the death penalty in this case, you may as well throw away the statute,” said Craig Silverman, former Denver County chief deputy district attorney. Jennifer Brown: 303-954-1593, or

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the denver post B B monday, july 23, 2012



Studio quiet on numbers Despite industry silence, others report $161 million opening for Batman. By Lisa Kennedy The Denver Post

Christian Bale plays Batman in a scene from Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises.” Provided by Warner Bros. Pictures an industry trying to find a delicate balance between acknowledging the horror of the tragedy and going about its business.

Unofficial grosses did make their way into industry reporting. Reporter Nikki Finke wrote

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on her insider site dead, “It may seem callous to post … North American and worldwide box office this weekend after the Colorado movie theater tragedy. And of course our hearts go out to those killed and wounded. But this is an entertainment business website that tracks movie grosses.” According to Finke, “The Dark Knight Rises” is on track to be the all-time weekend leader for a 2-D movie. Yet the $161.1 million number is said to be lower than the expectations of industry analysts.

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On the website of the box-office tracking company Exhibitor Relations is a discreet image of Batman, head bowed, next to the words “In Memoriam. To those who lost their life. Aurora, Colorado. July 20th, 2012.” The site goes on to say, “There will be no official box office estimates today …” Box office tracking companies Rentrak and boxoffice also decided not to report numbers for the opening weekend of one of summer’s most anticipated movies. “We took our lead from the studios,” said Jeff Bock, a senior analyst at the Los Angelesbased Exhibitor Relations. Typically, weekend grosses and estimates would be posted, analyzed, reported and challenged. But last week’s deadly assault on movie patrons at the Century Aurora 16 presents a challenge for industry watchers, as well as Warner Bros. Pictures, the studio that released “The Dark Knight Rises.” Friday, the studio reported the midnight grosses. But, Bock says, “a lot of people called that crass or trite and it made Warner switch gears. Obviously this is an unprecedented event. “The only official number that they ever released was that (first) midnight gross. On Saturday, we knew they weren’t going to send out numbers officially,” Bock said. “The interesting thing is that the other studios also followed suit.” The silencing of the box-office numbers is further evidence of

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Theater shooting: Stay updated with the latest news and developments »


AT FIRST HEARING, SUSPECT SILENT Gun sales up since tragedy Firearm interest spikes as some seek protection By Sara Burnett The Denver Post

Background checks for people wanting to buy guns in Colorado jumped more than 41 percent after Friday morning’s shooting at an Aurora movie theater, and firearms instructors say they’re also seeing increased interest in the training required for a concealed-carry permit. “It’s been insane,” Jake Meyers, an employee at Rocky Mountain Guns and Ammo in Parker, said Monday. When he arrived at work Friday morning — just hours after a gunman killed 12 and injured 58 others at the Century Aurora 16 theater — there already were 15 to 20 people waiting outside the store, Meyers said. He called Monday “probably the busiest Monday all year” and said the basic firearms classes that he and the store’s owner teach are booked solid for the next three weeks, something that hadn’t happened all year. “A lot of it is people saying, ‘I didn’t think I needed a gun, but now I do,’ ” Meyers said. “When it happens in your backyard, people start reassessing — ‘Hey, I go to the movies.’ ” Between Friday and Sunday, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation approved background checks for 2,887 people who wanted to purchase a firearm — a 43 percent increase over the previous Friday through Sunday and a 39 percent jump over GUNS » 4A

Aurora theater shooting suspect James Eagan Holmes appears in Arapahoe County District Court on Monday. Holmes is being held on suspicion of firstdegree murder and could face additional counts of aggravated assault and weapons violations stemming from a mass shooting Friday. As the public got its first glimpse of Holmes, one expert is warning people to not read too much into what’s behind his eyes. »2A RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post

“ I WA N T E D TO C O M E H E R E ”

Victim’s kin attends for sake of justice David Sanchez was expecting the birth of a grandson Monday. By Jeremy P. Meyer The Denver Post

centennial» David Sanchez should have been celebrating the birth of his first grandchild Monday. Instead, he was at the Arapahoe County Justice Center, hoping for a look at the man who he believes shattered the lives of his pregnant daughter Katie Medley and her hus-

band, Caleb. Caleb Medley was in critical condition Monday at University of Colorado Hospital with a bullet wound through the eye. He and Katie were watching a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” when, police say, James Eagan Holmes opened fire at the Century Aurora 16 theater. Justice, Sanchez said, “is very important for me. I wanted to come here. I wasn’t sure about (Katie’s) feelings. She is being very strong right now,

Complete coverage Legal teams. Meet the lawyers for the prosecution and defense. »2A What now? Century Aurora 16 faces uncertain future. »4A

Commentary. 911 recordings shed light on a night both horrific and heroic. »5A

Hickenhooper’s leadership. Governor balances grief with running the state. »6A



Holmes will hear charges next week The appearance, mostly a legal formality, drew victims’ relatives. By John Ingold, Jessica Fender and Jeremy P. Meyer The Denver Post

centennial» With a tangle of orangish-red hair atop his head like a bizarre costume wig, James Eagan Holmes slouched into a courtroom Monday to learn he is being held on suspicion of committing one of the worst mass murders in American history.

Shackled at the wrists and ankles, Holmes jingled as he walked into his first court appearance since the Friday shootings at the Century Aurora 16 that killed 12 and injured 58 more. Surrounded by one of his public defenders and two Arapahoe County Sheriff’s deputies, Holmes appeared barely to pay attention as 18th Judicial District Chief Judge William Sylvester advised him of his rights. He spoke not one word. In the gallery, the father of Alex Teves, who was killed in HEARING » 2A

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Behavior spurs speculation Criminology professor says interpreting any expression is subjective By Colleen O’Connor The Denver Post

Amanda Medek, who lost her sister, was among the family members walking in to the hearing for shooting suspect James Eagan Holmes, who appeared before Arapahoe County District Court Judge William B. Sylvester on Monday. Joe Amon, The Denver Post

HEARING «FROM 1A the shootings, crossed his arms and glared at Holmes. Others — shooting survivors and victims’ relatives — leaned forward with their elbows resting on their knees. Boxes of tissues were placed on the seats’ armrests for those struck by tears. But the most pervasive sounds in the courtroom were the steady, practiced voices of the judge and the attorneys ticking through routine procedural matters. For all the emotion and commotion surrounding the moment, it was a hearing that lasted only 12 minutes. “We need to be here to heal,” said Anggaiat Situmeang, who described himself as a relative of a shooting victim, as he approached the courthouse Monday morning. “It’s hard, physically and mentally.” The hearing ended with Sylvester ordering Holmes, 24, held without bond. He is scheduled to return to court July 30, when he will be formally charged. After the hearing, Arapahoe County District Attorney Carol Chambers declined to say whether her office would seek the death penalty in the case, noting the fact that a significant fact-gathering process and specific legal procedures must be completed before such a momentous decision can be made. Chief among the evaluative process facing the four-member prosecution team — which has the ultimate discretion to pursue such a penalty — is the fact that families will have a say in whether they wish to pursue a death penalty, and the long-lasting effects of such a decision. To that point, Chambers noted that the theater massacre has direct and indirect impact on hundreds of people, from victims to family members of victims, both living and dead. “I don’t think that’s a (decision)

that can be made in the abstract,” Chambers said. “It’s something we definitely want to get their input on.” Meanwhile, prosecutors are seeking input from victims, issuing subpoenas and search warrants. Sylvester has ordered the case file and all connected search warrants be sealed. On Monday, he issued a gag order preventing the lawyers involved from discussing details of the case. “This is a very active, ongoing investigation,” Chambers said. Holmes’ attorneys, Daniel King and Tamara Brady, declined comment after the hearing. King and Brady are members of the state public defender’s capital cases team, the group of attorneys who represent clients in death penalty cases. Advisement hearings — such as Holmes’ hearing Monday — are the first step in a criminal case and are typically legal formalities. Once the district attorney files formal charges, the next major step for Holmes will be a preliminary hearing, at which a judge will listen to testimony to determine whether Holmes should be bound over for trial. But legal experts said that could be some ways off because Holmes’ attorneys may ask that Holmes receive a mental-health evaluation to determine whether he is fit to stand trial. To face trial, a defendant must understand the charges against him and be able to help his lawyers in his defense. “I think (an evaluation) is going to happen early in this case because part of the defendant’s claims is maybe that he’s incompetent to stand trial,” said University of Denver law professor Sam Kamin. Such evaluations can significantly prolong a case. In the instance of Nathan Dunlap, who was convicted of killing four people in an Aurora Chuck E. Cheese restaurant and sentenced to death, the mental-health evaluation lasted five months. In the meantime, all the victims of the shooting can do is wait — both for answers and for justice.

Legal teams in Holmes case Prosecution Carol Chambers District attorney for the 18th Judicial District, which includes Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties. Elected in 2004, she is term-limited and will be out of office in January. Over her tenure, Chambers’ office has prosecuted several high-profile cases, including the convictions of Robert Ray and Sir Mario Owens in the shooting of a witness to another killing and the man’s fiance. Ray and Owens are on death row. Karen Pearson Chief prosecutor, she has been with the DA’s office since 1996 and has been a deputy district attorney since 2007. High-profile cases that Pearson has handled include the 2005 Jason Reynolds road-rage case that left two dead and the 2008 car crash into a BaskinRobbins ice cream store in which three people died, including a 3year-old boy. She graduated from the University of Denver law school. Jacob Edson Senior deputy district attorney, he has been with the DA’s office for seven years. High-profile cases Edson has handled include the conviction of Marcus Hightower for murder and the Anthony Gillespie murder trial. He graduated from the University of Denver. Andrew Steers Senior deputy district attorney, he has been with the DA’s office since 2007. He was made a felony deputy in September 2011. He graduated from the University of Denver law school. Richard Orman Senior deputy district attorney, he has been with the DA’s office since 2001. He graduated from Georgetown’s law school.




Public defenders Daniel B. King Chief trial deputy with the Colorado State Public Defender’s Office. King represented Sir Mario Owens in the witness-murder trial. Tamara A. Brady Chief trial deputy with the Colorado State Public Defender’s Office. Brady represented Jose Luis Rubi-Nava in the dragging-murder trial. James O’Connor Head of the Arapahoe County division of the Colorado State Public Defender’s Office. “He just looks like a pathetic freak,” McKayla Hicks, who was wounded in the shooting and attended Monday’s hearing, told CNN. “I just want him put away

In blog posts, at water coolers and on websites, people are endlessly speculating about the demeanor of shooting suspect James Eagan Holmes in his first courtroom appearance Monday. He looked confused, sad, lost or exhausted, some said. Others thought he looked drugged, and wondered how that might be possible. Still others thought he was faking it, a method of self-protection as carefully planned as the his full-body riot gear he was wearing Friday when he was arrested after 12 people were killed and 58 others injured in an Aurora movie theater. “His appearance today was like a Rohrschach test,” said Jack Levin, the Brudnick Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Northeastern University in Boston. “You could impose almost anything — thoughts and feelings you have about him — to interpret his expressions. He went from dozing to being oblivious to looking pained all within a couple min- James utes.” Eagan The discussion divides into Holmes, in two camps: those who think he’s his booking psychotic, or disconnected from mug. reality, and those who believe he’s psychopathic and fully understands the consequences of his alleged crime. The range of Holmes’ expressions in court are very difficult to interpret, Levin said, because everyone reacts differently to stress. “One possibility is that he now realizes or feels remorseful,” Levin said. “Another is that he is regretful that he may get the death penalty. Another is that he is psychotic and totally confused.” Levin, the author of “Serial Killers and Sadistic Murderers: Up Close and Personal,” has studied mass murderers for more than 30 years. Holmes’ alleged behavior differed from most other mass murderers, and that suggests he is psychotic, Levin said. “Only 16 percent of all mass killings are random killings of strangers in shopping malls, cinemas and churches,” he said. “Overwhelmingly, the majority are quite selective.” Most mass killers are triggered by a catastrophic loss, he said, like a nasty separation or divorce, and then seek revenge against those whom they think are responsible. But Holmes, who had done poorly in his graduate neuroscience program, did not go gunning for the professors. “It’s not rational to kill your professors, but this is so far away in every respect from what you’d expect from a mass killer that you have to start wondering what is the matter with him,” Levin said. With the exception of school shooters, Levin said, he knows of no mass killer in his early to mid-20s who killed at random in a public place. He said Holmes may suffer from schizophrenia, a brain disorder that often appears in late adolescence or early adulthood, and can make it difficult to distinguish fantasy from reality. Other experts, like David Eagleman, director of the Initiative on Neuroscience and the Law, believe that a schizophrenic would have a hard time following such an ambitious plan as that which Holmes allegedly devised. Experts in the mental health community in Colorado will not speculate on the possibility of Holmes having a mental illness because no psychiatric valuations have yet been performed, and they do not want to further stigmatize a community that is already marginalized. Most schizophrenics are not violent. In a community already outraged by the mass killings, many react with anger toward the possibility of Holmes being mentally ill. “It’s a gut reaction,” Levin said. “I never would excuse this killer or any other, but I would like to explain his behavior. Many people ask about his motive and mindset, and then when you take a stab at it, they’re critical. They don’t like the idea of medicalizing the condition of a killer. They’d much prefer to see it as evil, than sick.”

forever.” John Ingold: 303-954-1068, or

Colleen O’Connor: 303-954-1083,, or



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Midnight massacre tuesday, july 24, 2012 B B the denver post



Surging gun sales

Future of Aurora theater unclear in wake of shooting

The number of background checks for gun purchases in Colorado surged after the Century Aurora 16 theater tragedy.

The film industry takes a hit as ticket sales are down across the nation over the weekend.

Friday 1,216

850 710

Saturday 1,243


889 705 428 306 222

By Mark Jaffe The Denver Post

The Century Aurora 16 movie complex — the scene of one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history — is one of 456 theaters operated by Cinemark Holdings, but it presents a unique dilemma. “What will Cinemark do with it?” asked Tony Wible, an industry analyst with Janney Montgomery Scott. “We’ve never had anything happen like this in the world of media.” The theater remained closed Monday as police investigated Friday morning’s shooting. James Eagan Holmes, 24, is accused of opening fire on the audience at a midnight show, killing 12 and injuring 58. With movie theaters in 39 states, Mexico and 12 Latin American countries, the Aurora complex is a drop in the revenue bucket for Plano, Texasbased Cinemark. The company’s 3,878 U.S. screens each averaged $412,000 in revenue in 2011, according to company filings. At that rate, Aurora’s 16 screens would have generated about $6.6 million. Cinemark reported 2011 revenues of $2.3 billion. “Hard to say what happens with the property, certainly that particular screen itself would always be a horribly tainted place,” Matthew Harrigan, an analyst with Wunderlich Securities in Denver, said in an e-mail. Officials for Cinemark did not return calls for comment. Movie theaters usually sign 15- to 20year leases, industry analysts and realestate agents said. The theater was built in 1998 with 3,400 seats. It was operated by Century Theaters, which Cinemark bought in 2006. “There are a lot of capital improvements that go into a theater, so I’d be surprised if they didn’t try to keep it,” Wible said. The location has a “solid market,” said Robb Brown, a principal with The Denver Retail Group. “You look for a location without a movie theater within five miles and they have that,” Brown said. If Cinemark did decide to leave the building, its fate would be uncertain. After Nathan Dunlap, a former employee at a Chuck E Cheese at South Peoria Street and East Iliff Avenue, killed four employees at that store in 1993, the operator left it empty until the lease ran out. A new tenant came in 1996. As for the shooting’s impact to the theater industry, across the country movie ticket sales were down last weekend, said Jeff Bock, senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations Co. The massacre occurred at a showing of the new Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Average approvals in July 2011 Average approvals in July 2012* Number of approvals for the past Friday, Saturday and Sunday

’11 ’12

’11 ’12

’11 ’12

*For the two weeks ending July 8 and July 15. Source: Colorado Bureau of Investigation The Denver Post


Santiago Nieto, 40, of Los Angeles and Alicia West, 24, of Aurora talk as they look at the front of the Century Aurora 16 theater Monday. West was at the theater Friday night to see “The Dark Knight Rises,” but her friend never showed up, so she left about 40 minutes before the show started. Joe Amon, The Denver Post

Opening weekend revenue for that film was estimated to be $175 million. It fell short at $160.8 million — still giving it the third-largest opening ever, Bock said. But box office returns for “Ice Age,” an animated movie, were down 56 percent, and receipts for “Ted,” a comedy, were down 55 percent, Bock said.

“We’ll have to wait to next weekend to really see if there is an impact,” Bock said. Kevin Keller contributed to this story. Mark Jaffe: 303-954-1912, or

An Arapahoe County bomb squad suits up to enter the Century Aurora 16 movie theater, the scene of a mass shooting in which 12 people were killed and 58 were injured Friday. Andy Cross, The Denver Post

those same days on the first weekend of July. The biggest spike was on Friday, when there were 1,216 checks, a 43 percent increase over the average number for the previous two Fridays. The checks are required before anyone may legally purchase a gun in Colorado. Because some purchasers may have bought more than one gun or decided against their purchase, the actual number bought may have been different from 2,887. Such increases aren’t unusual in the wake of mass shootings. After a gunman in Tucson killed six people and injured others, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, in 2010, background checks in Arizona jumped 60 percent over the same date one year earlier, according to the FBI. A similar increase occurred in Virginia after the shootings at Virginia Tech University in 2007. Dion Studinski, who teaches a course required for people to apply for a concealed-carry permit, said his class for Saturday at Firing-Line gun store and indoor shooting range in Aurora is overbooked. “We’ve definitely had an increase,” he said. Tom Mauser, a gun-control advocate whose son Daniel was killed at Columbine High School in 1999, said he wasn’t surprised by the numbers. “To me that’s just symbolic of the fear that drives (people),” he said. State Rep. Rhonda Fields, DAurora, said she understands what people are thinking when they walk into a gun shop. But she hopes buying a gun isn’t the only response people have. She would also like to see Congress reinstate an assault-weapons ban, and she said Colorado should look into other measures that could prevent tragedies like Friday’s shooting. “I think that’s what the conversation needs to be,” she said. “I don’t think that to be preventative, we need to provide or have more guns.”


Lawyer says mother’s reaction misrepresented In a public statement, the family requests privacy and offers condolences to victims and families. By Felisa Cardona The Denver Post

san diego» A criminal-defense attorney hired by the family of shooting suspect James Eagan Holmes says his mother was portrayed inaccurately by national media reports that implied she knew her son was troubled. Lawyer Lisa Damiani said her client Arlene Holmes knew nothing about the mass murder in Denver when she was awakened about 5:45 a.m. PDT Friday by ABC News. Damiani said the reporter asked whether she was Arlene Holmes and whether her son was James Holmes. Reading a statement from Arlene Holmes, Damiani said: “I said ‘Yes, you have the right person.’ But I was talking about myself.” ABC News is standing by its reporting. Speaking in front of the high-rise building that houses her office in downtown San Diego on Monday afternoon, Damiani declined to say why the family had hired her.

On Monday morning, two attorneys from the state public defender’s office were appointed to defend James Holmes, 24, who is suspected of killing 12 people and injuring 58 others in an Aurora movie theater. An Arapahoe County judge has sealed records related to the case, including financial records showing his need for a public defender. During the brief news conference, Damiani deflected a volley of questions, including some about the relationships between family members still living in California and whether James Holmes is estranged from his family. “The family would like privacy,” she said. “The family wants to reiterate that their hearts go out to the victims and their families.” Damiani said that Robert and Arlene Holmes and their daughter have had tremendous support from the pastor of their church. Church employees at Peñasquitos Lutheran in suburban San Diego ac-

knowledged they are trying to help the Holmes family cope with the fallout of the shootings. “As a faith community, we will be present to walk with and pray for all members of the Holmes family as they deal with this situation,” a church statement reads. “We also ask that you join us in prayer for the families of those who were killed and the survivors of those traumatized along with their families.” Although she declined to say whether the family fears for its safety, Damiani said, “I have concern for their safety.” About 30 reporters and photographers have been camped out in front of the family home in the Rancho Peñasquitos neighborhood of San Diego since the killings in Aurora, considered one of the worst mass murders in U.S. history. Holmes, who is also accused of rigging his apartment near the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora with explosives, is being held without bail in the Arapahoe County jail. When he was arrested, police say, he had four weapons in his possession and was wearing body armor. David Casper, who owns Hillcrest

Pawnbrokers in San Diego, said he recognized James Holmes when his picture flashed across his television screen Friday. “He has been in here more than once,” he said. “He did look at the guns. One of my employees remembers him asking about the guns.” Casper says his is one of only two pawnshops that sell guns in San Diego, which may explain why Holmes drove 15 miles into the city from the suburbs to Hillcrest Pawnbrokers. Casper has shotguns and handguns displayed on the wall and in a case inside his store. He says he doesn’t remember the month or day Holmes came into the shop but that he knows it was within the last year and that he asked about the guns in the shop. “I remember he sought advice,” Casper said. Casper says he won’t sell firearms to people who make him suspicious and that he reserves the right to refuse service to any customer. “I have refused to sell, but he wouldn’t have been that person,” Casper said, adding that Holmes seemed so normal, he would have sold him guns.

Sara Burnett: 303-954-1661, or

Holmes’ Match profile verified, mentions prison By Ryan Parker The Denver Post

A profile for James Eagan Holmes is genuine, according to a spokesman for the dating website. “There was a profile and it was taken down as soon as was alerted to it,” spokesman Matthew Traub said. is a dating website where users create profiles in hopes of meeting someone for dating or a relationship. The opening statement on Holmes’ profile reads: “Will you visit me in prison?” This same line was used on an adultthemed dating site for a person representing himself as Holmes, seeking a “casual sex gal.”



911 tapes grim, full of bravery

the denver post B B

tuesday, july 24, 2012

News «5A


By Chuck Murphy The Denver Post

aurora» he true scope of the heroism on display Friday morning at the Century Aurora 16 multiplex will gradually trickle out over the next weeks and months. But this much we already know: Aurora police officers risked their lives at every turn to try to save others, while their dispatchers back in the communications center monitored the most chaotic scene any of them had ever faced. “I think people should understand that when they call, we really do care,” said Kathie Stauffer, the dispatcher at the epicenter of Friday morning’s mass shooting. “We care about everybody who calls us.” The dispatch tapes from Friday morning make that plain. And while there will be after-action reviews that will undoubtedly find areas of concern or room for improvement, Aurora residents can rest assured that their officers on the scene did all they could. The first officer tells dispatch he is out on foot at the theater within 44 seconds of the initial call. At that point, here is what he and his colleagues knew from Stauffer: “They’re saying somebody is shooting in the auditorium.” “There is at least one person that’s been shot, but they’re saying there’s hundreds of people just running around.” Less than 10 seconds later they also learned: “Somebody is still shooting inside theater number nine, per an employee.” So the officers went inside — to theater 9. Before two minutes had passed since the deluge of 911 calls that interrupted a quiet night in Aurora, the first officer was outside the very theater where the shooting began. It is impossible to imagine the uncertainty of that moment. There is smoke everywhere. There is some kind of gas in the air, maybe pepper spray. There is a gunshot victim on the floor just outside the door to theater 9. The patrons are panicking. The police are frustrated. “The Dark Knight Rises” is still playing on the screen. The next five minutes on the dispatch tapes are hard to hear. The quality is fine, but the content is brutal. And knowing that the cries for help were coming from police officers accustomed to violence and chaos only makes them more compelling. “Get us some damn gas masks for theater 9! We can’t get in it.” “I’ve got seven down in theater nine. Seven down!” “I’ve got one ambulance here. Where are my ambulances at?” And then, eight minutes and 20 seconds in, officers have cut through the smoke and the gas and the panic and... “I’ve got a child victim. I need rescue at the back door of theater 9 now.” It was then that Stauffer realized how horrible the scene really was. “It was just sadness,” she said. It is important to remember that though they had someone later identified as James Eagan Holmes in custody before five minutes had passed, and he told them he acted alone, officers could not be certain that was true. Fleeing patrons and nearby construction workers told them about other possible shooters — a guy in a blue shirt, maybe a guy with a red backpack. So the officers tending to the wounded in theater 9 were on high alert. A shooter could be behind the screen, hiding behind a garbage can, playing possum and waiting to open fire from the floor. Their radio traffic betrays no hint of concern for anyone other than the victims. “We have one we can not move in theater 9, get an ambulance here as soon as you can.” “Give me some ambulances to the back of the theater or the old Sports Authority lot.” “Have them shut the movie off in 9.”


Chuck Murphy: 303-954-1829, or

he three daughters and one son of Gordon Cowden, 51, the oldest of the 12 victims who were killed in the Aurora movietheater rampage, gather Monday at a makeshift memorial at South Sable Boulevard and East Centrepoint Drive in Aurora. People continue to pay their respects at the site near the theater where 12 were killed and 58 injured. A dozen white crosses represent each of those killed. Suspect James Eagan Holmes is in custody.


Evan Semon, Special to The Denver Post

SUPPORT «FROM 1A having to make a huge amount of decisions. I have to go with what she wants. She really didn’t want to give a whole bunch of information to the media. She has been avoiding it.” Sanchez, 53, who works at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, arrived too late for the hearing and didn’t get to see Holmes in person. Caleb Medley is an aspiring standup comic who had won a contest at a comedy club last week. He was expected to move on to the next round for another performance. Comic Brad Galli performed with him Wednesday at the New Faces Contest at Comedy Works South. “It was the funniest I had ever seen him,” said Galli, who has known Medley for more than two years. “He had gotten a lot better. He also was really into film as well. He made a lot of shorts that he put up on the Internet that were really funny.” The couple, who are fans of Batman, had gone to the midnight movie dressed in Batman attire, according to a website created by their friends to raise money for the couple. They have no health insurance. Katie Medley, who is quoted on the website, said her husband was the fourth victim removed from the theater after police arrived. “They did not bother to wait for the ambulance,” she said. “He was put in the back of a cop car, and they drove him straight to University Hospital. I did not get to see him again because the police were keeping me, and I did not find out if he was still alive until they released me at about 4 a.m.” Sanchez told a large group of reporters after the 12-minute court hearing that he had come to the courthouse as a representative for Caleb

and Katie. “It is important to support my daughter and her husband and their newborn baby,” he said. Sanchez said he would support the death penalty if Holmes were found guilty. His daughter had been concentrating on the pending birth of their son, whom they have named Hugo, and her husband’s state. The child’s delivery was to be induced Monday. Doctors were determining whether they should allow Caleb to see the

boy after he is born. There were concerns about infections. “It’s been horrendous. It’s been more than anybody should be able to handle,” Sanchez said. “We never thought we would be part of something like this.” Jeremy P. Meyer: 303-954-1367, or Staff writer John Wenzel contributed to this report.

Where to find help Need help processing the tragedy? Or do you wish to help out financially but are not sure where a donation should go? Here are several resources:, a safe and secure online vehicle of the Community First Foundation, is helping those who wish to find nonprofits that are assisting the victims and the families. The featured nonprofits include Aurora Mental Health Center, Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network, Mental Health America of Colorado, Bonfils Blood Center Foundation, Metro Crisis Services Inc., Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance and Denver Center for Crime Victims. Children’s Hospital Colorado has opened a family support line, 720-777-2300. Aurora Mental Health Center offers its support by having trained counselors available by phone, 303-617-2300. Joanne Davidson, The Denver Post

dp Multimedia: Images and video from the shooting scene, hospitals and more. » mediacenter

Map: Detailing key David Sanchez, whose son-in-law Caleb Medley was in critical condition after being shot through an eye at Friday’s movie-theater incident, speaks Monday after James Eagan Holmes, the 24-year-old suspect, appeared before an Arapahoe County judge in Centennial. Joe Amon, The Denver Post

locations in the shooting. » theatershootings


News tuesday, july 24, 2012 B B the denver post




Shootings raise tough questions for theaters Beefed-up security may become the norm in the short term, but can movie houses afford it? And will patrons pay for it? By Douglas Brown The Denver Post

resident Barack Obama hugs Stephanie Davies, who helped keep her friend, Allie Young, left, alive after she was shot during the movie theater shootings Friday in Aurora. Obama met the young women and other victims Sunday and later spoke about their experience. He said at a news conference that Young, 19, was shot in the neck and Davies pulled her out of harm’s way and held her fingers to Young’s wound to slow the bleeding. Young apparently told Davies to flee, but she refused, staying with her friend and pulling her out of the aisle until the shooting stopped. The Associated Press/Pete Souza, White House



Energy from inspiration The governor’s duties have made him a ubiquitous figure — and a changed man — in the wake of the Aurora shootings. By Lynn Bartels The Denver Post

Gov. John Hickenlooper was once told he was blessed with “large batteries,” and he has needed all that energy since first learning of the shootings at a Batman movie early Friday in Aurora. Hickenlooper has been everywhere, it seems: visiting patients and their families at hospitals, talking at news conferences, answering questions during national TV shows and showing up at prayer rallies. He has blended the routine with the extraordinary, attending a going-away party for a staffer in the governor’s office Friday afternoon before returning for a news conference that evening with Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates and others. Hickenlooper debated canceling a Saturday night dinner at the governor’s mansion with some members of his Cabinet and their spouses and a few staffers, something he does every few months. The dinner went on as planned but with two guests, including Tim Warner, chief executive of the company that owns the chain of movie theaters where the midnight massacre occurred. When the governor was introduced at a vigil Sunday, a cheer went up from the crowd. “It warmed my heart,” Hickenlooper admitted. He has been privy to a video taken by Aurora police that shows the crime scene, the bodies and the bullets. He has seen a video of the suspect’s apartment and been briefed on the investigation. Has it changed you? Hickenlooper was asked Monday in an interview at the state Capitol. “Oh, yeah, oh yeah,” he said. But Hickenlooper, a Denver Democrat who took office in January 2011, quickly changed the subject to the shooting victims and their families. He has met with them “to show them the state supports them 1,000 percent.” “The number of upbeat comments I heard is all so inspiring,” he said. “One young woman had two of her fingers shot off. She had been shot with all three of the weapons (the gunman used). She has severe injuries, but she was making jokes of how odd it was that she liked movies so much and yet this happened at a movie she wanted to see.” Hickenlooper had gone to Colorado Springs

Gov. John Hickenlooper, bowing his head during a community vigil for the movie-theater massacre victims Sunday, says acting as the state’s chief griever has changed him but that response and words of support from all over have been uplifting. AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post with friends Thursday night to attend a birthday party. He had finally gone to bed when a friend banged on his hotel room door about 2:45 a.m. and told him to turn on his TV set. “I got out of bed and turned on the TV and looked at it,” Hickenlooper said. “My spirits sank.” A man armed with three weapons opened fire inside the Century Aurora 16 complex where the movie “The Dark Knight Rises” was premiering. Ultimately, 12 people died and 58 were wounded. James Eagan Holmes is suspected in the shooting. Hickenlooper’s office issued a statement at 8:07 that Friday morning. Three minutes later, President Barack Obama called the governor. Hickenlooper visited the crime scene about 9:30 a.m. Friday. Later, in a police command vehicle, Hickenlooper, Oates, Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan and others viewed an investigative video cops made inside the theater. In addition to the bodies and the bullets,

Hickenlooper said, the video included “all the things you drop when you’re running for your lives — which is everything.” He recalled seeing popcorn, paper, purses and even a lone boot standing upright in an aisle. The video was “deeply disturbing,” Hickenlooper said, but that was in the “abstract.” “It was not the same as someone describing to you that their loved one is no longer alive or how someone saved their life,” he said. He made visits to area hospitals over three days, talking to shooting victims and their families. “Maybe it’s the kind of people who go to movies at midnight,” the governor said, “but the optimism of people who have been through such an ordeal is remarkable.” Lynn Bartels: 303-954-5327, or

Heavily armed Maine man with Aurora clippings is held By Holly Ramer The Associated Press

concord, n.h.» A man who was stopped for speeding on the Maine Turnpike had numerous weapons in his car — as well as newspaper clippings about the Aurora rampage — and told authorities he had attended “The Dark Knight Rises” movie with a loaded gun in his backpack, Maine state police said Monday. Timothy Courtois of Biddeford, Maine, was arrested after other drivers reported seeing a Mustang

speeding with its lights flashing around 10 a.m. Sunday. A state trooper clocked the car at 112 mph. Courtois told authorities he was on his way to Derry, N.H., to shoot a former employer. He also said he had attended the Batman movie in Saco the previous night. A search of his car turned up an AK-47 assault weapon, four handguns, ammunition and the news clippings, authorities said. “We don’t know what his true intentions were,” said Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety.

Later Sunday, police searched Courtois’ home and found a machine gun, several other guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Authorities were still trying Monday to confirm whether Courtois attended the movie, but state police Lt. Kevin Donovan said Courtois appeared to be telling the truth when interviewed by investigators. A spokesman for the movie-theater chain did not immediately return a call Monday. “I guess we’re taking everything at face value,” Donovan said. “It’s very scary.”

Movie theaters across the country are hiring extra off-duty police officers and security guards in the wake of the killing of 12 people Friday in a theater in Aurora. It’s a logical and maybe reassuring step, but it is unclear whether guards will remain part of the routine after news coverage of the killings fades. Two things are clear, security experts say: One, movie theaters should be made more secure, permanently. And two, theaters may not be able to afford it. “If not for popcorn, they would all be out of business,” said Howard Levinson, a security consultant in Massachusetts who has worked extensively with movie theaters. “They make all of their money from concessions, and it’s not the lucrative business it was before. It would be almost economically impossible to have a higher security standard. Without the general public paying as much as 50 percent more for a ticket, I don’t see how a theater could stay open.” Would moviegoers pay another $5, in the age of Netflix and Hulu Plus? It’s a question that theater owners would rather not test. Even if security at theaters was upped drastically, Levinson said it probably wouldn’t stop someone such as the perpetrator of Friday’s mass shootings. James Eagan Holmes, a 24-year-old graduate-school dropout, is being held by Aurora police in the shootings. Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said in a Friday news conference that there were no on-duty cops providing security for the midnight show. But other details have not been released, so it’s not yet known whether theater security guards were on duty, whether an employee was in the projection booth when the shootings began, or whether any alarms sounded when a man propped open an exit door, stepped outside, put on protective armor, returned to the theater and began firing. Levinson said the extra security, the employee in the projection booth and the alarm should have been in place. The midnight premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises” was a packed, pop-culture spectacle, not a sleepy Sunday matinee. Enhanced security should have been part of the event, Levinson said. “When a movie premieres, a studio gives a stipend for additional security,” Levinson said. A call to Cinemark, the Texas company that owns the Century Aurora 16 theater, was not returned by press time. And if a projectionist wasn’t watching over the audience, that too was a mistake, Levinson said. Some theaters have alarms attached to doors in the theaters; the alarms don’t ring through the theater but instead alert employees that a door has been opened. In the past, the alarms were used primarily to thwart people from letting in friends without paying. Tommy Burns, a security and police consultant in Nevada, said it is important to remember that movie theaters have been remarkably safe places, given the volume of people packed into them, the pre-movie drinking and the violence on the screens. “You rarely have an incident. So as a theater operator, you have a concern for safety, but where do you draw the line?” Burns asked. Prior to Friday, he said, “nobody really saw the need” to swaddle movie theaters in security. In the short term, armed police officers will be much more common at theaters, Burns said. But eventually they will vanish as closed-circuit televisions and security guards become the norm, he said. However security manifests in movie theaters, for now it will be a big topic of discussion among theater owners. “Where do you balance profitability with responsibility? That’s what it is — balance,” said Philip Jan Rothstein, the president of Rothstein Associates, a crisis-management consultancy in Connecticut. “Do you have a security guard, a camera, an alarm at every exit? Do you have a surveillance system? What kinds of controls are justifiable? What controls are realistic? “It’s a trade-off between privacy and comfort.” Douglas Brown: 303-954-1395, or Kelsey Fowler contributed to this report.


the denver post B B tuesday, july 24, 2012



O∞cials defend academic, personal support available to Holmes By Anthony Cotton The Denver Post

aurora» The dean of the University of Colorado Denver graduate school that James Eagan Holmes withdrew from last month said Monday that the school had rigorous measures in place to monitor, coach and counsel students who may have been having academic or personal problems. “If any program would be put on a pedestal, it would be this one,” said Barry Shur, speaking of the neuroscience program that Holmes was enrolled in. Holmes, 24, is accused of fatally shooting 12 people early Friday morning in an Aurora movie theater during a showing of the new Batman movie. Fiftyeight others were injured, many critically. Shur was a participant in a 45minute briefing that included CU-Denver Chancellor Don Elliman, executive vice chancellor Lilly Marks and Doug Abraham, the chief of police on the Anschutz Medical Campus. The officials, referring to the ongoing investigation, would not answer specific questions about him or his academic standing. They did say that Holmes withdrew from the program June 10, three days after taking a preliminary oral examination before three professors. The exam measures knowledge of core coursework done during the school year, and Shur said anyone who struggles academically or personally is given help so they can continue in the program. “It’s very, very rare for a student to be terminated for academic reasons. The percentage of students we admit who don’t receive their Ph.D. is very small,” he said. “In the neuroscience program, there’s remediation; there’s the ability for the student to retake the examination.” Holmes received $171,024 from the National Institutes of Health for his first year in the program. Of that total, $26,000 is allotted for “personal expenses.” When officials were asked whether that money could have been used to buy weapons or ammunition, Elliman and Shur said they could not comment because it is part of the ongoing investigation.

“It’s considered an honor to receive the grant,” Shur said. The neuroscience program is one of about a dozen Ph.D. programs on campus, focusing on how the brain works, specifically how the nervous system processes information. In existence since 1986, the program is funded, in part, by training grants from the NIH, awarded to “the most prestigious Ph.D. training programs in the country,” Shur said. CU receives about 10 applications to the program each year, with five or six students admitted. Shur said there are about 35 students enrolled in the fouryear program, which has had great success, he added, in areas such as drug treatment for Down syndrome, injuries to the central nervous system and treatment

aurora» Officials at the University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical campus said two suspicious packages found on the campus Monday were deemed no threat to students and faculty. “Because of the events of this past weekend, we wanted to be sure of the safety of the campus and make sure that they were not a threat,” said Jacque Montgomery, a spokeswoman for the university. “We brought in local authorities to look at the situation, they did just that, and they viewed it to be no threat.” One of the packages was sent to a faculty member, while the other was sent to the campus’ mail services. No classes were disrupted, but minor evacuations did take place, said Montgomery. James Eagan Holmes, who is alleged to have killed 12 people at a nearby movie theater, was in the process of withdrawing from the school’s graduate program in neurosciences. After his arrest, it was discovered that Holmes had boobytrapped his apartment with explosives. Holmes enrolled in the graduate program at the university in June 2011. Kurtis Lee: 303-954-1655, or

Anthony Cotton: 303-954-1292, or

Barry Shur, left, dean of the Anschutz Medical Campus Graduate School at the University of Colorado Denver, answers questions about James Eagan Holmes, the suspect in Friday’s theater shootings, and packages that showed up Monday at the school. Doug Abraham, Anschutz Medical Campus chief of police, is in the foreground. Heather Rousseau, The Denver Post



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these students daily. This is not something where they’re saying, ‘Oh, maybe I’ll see the student in six months,’ ” he said. “This is a family. It’s a teambuilding environment. They’re very much in contact with the students in the program. “Especially with any student that might have any kind of academic or other difficulty — those are the ones that program leadership would focus their interest on, more than anyone, the students who are in need of help.” School officials said a background check is required for any student applying to the school. Elliman said he felt that the university had done all it could.



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for the prevention of strokes. During the first year of the program, students choose three faculty members and do 12-week rotations within that instructor’s specific discipline. At the end of the year, the student chooses one of the faculty members to be his thesis mentor. When Holmes withdrew, he was required to fill out a form saying it was voluntary. Program directors then sign off on it and send it to the dean. As part of that process, the directors try to determine why the student is leaving the program. However, Holmes left that area blank on his withdrawal form. Shur said that paperwork was being processed for Holmes but had not been completed. “You have to understand that the program directors are with




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Aurora theater shooting: Part 1  

Aurora theater shooting: Part 1

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