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    Colorado suspect was brilliant science student

    DENVER (AP) — James Eagen Holmes came from a well-tended San Diego enclave of two-story homes with red-tiled roofs, where neighbors recall him as a clean-cut, studious young man of sparing words.

    Tall and dark-haired, he stared clear-eyed at the camera in a 2004 high school yearbook snapshot, wearing a white junior varsity soccer uniform — No. 16. The son of a nurse, Arlene, and a software company manager, Robert, James Holmes was a brilliant science scholar in college.

    The biggest mystery surrounding the 24-year-old doctoral student was why he would have pulled on a gas mask and shot dozens of people early Friday in a suburban Denver movie theater, as police allege.

    In the age of widespread social media, no trace of Holmes could be found on Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter or anywhere on the Web. Either he never engaged or he scrubbed his trail.

    A longtime neighbor in San Diego, where Holmes grew up, remembers only a "shy guy ... a loner" from a churchgoing family. In addition to playing soccer at Westview High School, he ran cross country.

    The bookish demeanor concealed an unspooling life. Holmes struggled to find work after graduating with highest honors in spring 2010 with a neuroscience degree from the University of California, Riverside, said the neighbor, retired electrical engineer Tom Mai.

    Holmes enrolled last year in a neuroscience Ph.D. program at the University of Colorado-Denver but was in the process of withdrawing, said school officials, who didn't provide a reason. The school later said in a statement that he left the program in June 2012.

    As part of the advanced program in Denver, a James Holmes had been listed as making a presentation in May about Micro DNA Biomarkers in a class named "Biological Basis of Psychiatric and Neurological Disorders."

    In academic achievement, "he was at the top of the top," recalled Riverside Chancellor Timothy P. White.

    Holmes concentrated his study on "how we all behave," White added. "It's ironic and sad."

    From a distance, Holmes' life appears unblemished, a young man with unlimited potential. There are no indications he had problems with police.

    Somehow, the acclaimed student and quiet neighbor reached a point where he painted his hair red, called himself "The Joker," the green-haired villain from the Batman movies, according to New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who said he had been briefed on the matter.

    Authorities say Holmes arrived at the theater dressed in black, outfitted in a gas mask, ballistic helmet, vest and leggings, black tactical gloves and protectors on his throat and groin. He was armed with an assault-style rifle, a shotgun and Glock handgun.

    Police said he started his attack by tossing two gas canisters into the theater, where he had bought a ticket for the midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises," the new Batman movie.

    A federal law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing probe into the rampage, said Holmes bought four guns from retailers in the past two months.

    Holmes bought his first Glock pistol in Aurora, Colo., on May 22. Six days later, he picked up a Remington shotgun in Denver. About two weeks later, he bought a .223 caliber Smith & Wesson rifle in Thornton, Colo., and then a second Glock in Denver on July 6 — 13 days before the shooting, the official said.

    A high-volume drum magazine was attached to the rifle, an assault weapon, the official said. Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said that a 100-round drum magazine for the rifle was recovered from the scene.

    "I'm told by experts that with that drum magazine, he could have gotten off 50 to 60 rounds, even if it was semiautomatic, within one minute," Oates said at a news conference. "And as far as we know, it was a pretty rapid pace of fire in that theater."

    Julie Adams, whose son played junior varsity soccer with Holmes, said her son remembered little about the suspect, which was unusual for the tight-knit team.

    "I don't think many of the kids (teammates) knew him. He was kind of a loner," she said.

    Jackie Mitchell, a furniture mover who lives several blocks from the suspect's apartment building in Colorado, said he had drinks with Holmes at a bar on Tuesday night, though he showed no sign of distress or violence.

    After Holmes approached him, "we just talked about football. He had a backpack and geeky glasses and seemed like a real intelligent guy, and I figured he was one of the college students," Mitchell said.

    When Mitchell saw Holmes' photo after the shooting, "the hair stood up on my back," he said. "I know this guy."

    Holmes is not talking to police and has asked for a lawyer, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the case. Police found jars of chemicals in Holmes' booby-trapped apartment with wires nearby, the law enforcement official said.

    When he surrendered meekly in the movie house parking lot, Holmes told authorities what he'd done at his residence in the Denver suburb of Aurora, the third most populous city in Colorado.

    "Our hearts go out to those who were involved in this tragedy and to the families and friends of those involved," Holmes' family said in a statement Friday. "We ask that the media respect our privacy during this difficult time."

    San Diego Superior Court spokeswoman Karen Dalton said there were no records found under his name, not even for a traffic ticket. Riverside County prosecutors also have no criminal record for him, said John Hall, a spokesman for the district attorney's office. The only mark on his record in Aurora was a speeding summons from October, Oates said.

    On Friday morning, police escorted the suspect's father from the family's San Diego home. The mother stayed inside, receiving visitors who came to offer support.

    San Diego police spokeswoman Lt. Andra Brown spoke to reporters in the driveway of the Holmes' home, on behalf of the family.

    "As you can understand, the Holmes family is very upset about all of this," she said. "It's a tragic event and it's taken everyone by surprise."


    Blood reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press contributors to this report include Elliot Spagat and Julie Watson in San Diego; Eileen Sullivan, Alicia A. Caldwell and Pete Yost in Washington; Tom Hays in New York; Amy Taxin in Orange County, Calif.; Colleen Slevin in Denver; and Eric Carvin and AP researcher Judith Ausuebel in New York.



    • Bogart  •  4 mths ago
      Now we all know that he was mentally ill and a danger to society and it was reported by his psychiatrist. So why didn't the police take it seriously and have him followed? They would have discoverd what he was buying on the internet and why he was buying it. Seems this could have been prevented. He was insane and no one did a thing about it. Where is our protection when it is needed? He slipped through the cracks because no one cared to follow through.
    • DaveR  •  4 mths ago
      I am not a person who likes a lot of people in my personal life. Never do I ever think about destroying people. I just like doing whatever i enjoy doing and a lot of people are not in to running,bicycle riding ,especially at my age.I don`t get a thrill out out of sitting around talking to people about other people.Because a person spends a lot of time alone does not mean they are plotting some kind of henious crime.It sounds like this young man had some sort of psychotic break with reality.
    • me  •  4 mths ago
      i hate when they paint these guys as "loner" "geeky" etc. this was a highly intelligent kid, he was more than likely mentally ill. there are PLENTY of loners and quiet ppl, it takes more than that to slaughter people.
    • Missa  •  4 mths ago
      Through all of this speculation [and that is all it is at this point] we must remember that "crazy" knows no ethnic, racial, or socio-economic boundaries. "Crazy" is neither a republican nor a democrat. "Crazy" is just "crazy", and we might never know what tripped the trigger for this particular "crazy". But let's not trample all over each other trying to point fingers. Don't make this yutz out to be any more [or less] than he is: bat-**** crazy.
    • US  •  4 mths ago
      Intellect and emotion are two separate things.
    • Evan  •  4 mths ago
      I hate when people are trying to politicize this even...This is not about tea partiers (as that #$%$ Brian Ross tried to frame it as) this isn't Republican, Democrat, nothing. There is no ryhme or reason to this. Violence has happened since the beginning of mankind. Everyone is talking about how more needs to be done to combat violence. What we need to do is, stop restricting freedoms and stop living in fear. I for one will always carry a gun, and will never be afraid to step outside my house.
    • navyguy  •  4 mths ago
      There's an article in the paper today where they label Holmes the "alleged shooter". God that makes me livid! Let's call people what they really are. He's a murderer, plain and simple. In this particular case the punishment should be swift and decisive.
    • Molly  •  4 mths ago
      I dont understand why the media is making this about him being a quiet loner. Im shy and a loner, I chose not to associate with such a messed up generation, there is just so many evil people in the world today. This doesnt mean Im going to kill anyone because Im a quiet loner!
    • Frosty Dallas  •  4 mths ago
      Support your NRA! The solution to gun violence is TO GET MORE GUNS!!!!
      (like the solution to fewer highway accidents is to drive FASTER! sarcasm for nra members
    • larry  •  4 mths ago
      Red equals Green? No attempt at running away? Something is very strange about this whole thing.
    • William  •  4 mths ago
      No matter what enyone thinks, you just can't prepare for crazy. What a sad event.
    • S.G.Z.  •  4 mths ago
      I like how this article implies that if you are not into social media garbage like Facebook and Twitter, then "something must be off about you". And I wonder what % of the population would be classified as "Loners" (Introverts). Some people just find the majority of people boring, superficial, hedonistic, whatever - and doesn't care to associate with them. It doesn't mean they want to mow them down with guns. Sheesh. If anything, most "anti-social people" in distress are a danger to themselves and no one else.
    • CADreamin'  •  4 mths ago
      According to his "mentor" at the Salk Institute, John Jacobson, Holmes was a best a mediocre student. He was not brilliant by any stretch of the imagination.
    • john  •  4 mths ago
      it's ALWAYS the SAME story. the "lone crazy gunman" with no contacts, friends or family member. it's PLAYED OUT! this is a pattern incident and it has the finger prints of the same people who pulled off 9/11, JFK, MLK, RFK, John Lennon, Ronald Reagan, Oklahoma City, Wako, Columbine and all of the other big stories "THEY" give us as reason to get rid of our guns... ALL OVER IT! this guy is an MK Ultra patsy! ...NEXT!!
    • Tijean Thibodeaux  •  4 mths ago
      What is funny is how the media treats this dude as compared to the Zimmermann-Martin case. this cat killed twelve individuals in a public venue and is a suspect and and Zimmerman is refferd to as Trayvon Martins killer. Why the difference? This dude clearly did this, so why is he called a suspect and Mr. Zimmerman called a murderer. The media more than likely does not like the idea of a Stand your ground law. If some one ccould have "Stood their Ground" in Colorado this individual would not be in the news so much. I feel "open carry" laws would be a benefit to the society as a whole, because when seconds count the police are minutes away.
    • CADreamin'  •  4 mths ago
      Holmes was not brilliant. It is irresponsible journalism to keep glorifying this monster in this manner, and it shows a lack of research and integrity. Highly intelligent people tend to be better adjusted than this #$%$ ever dreamed of being. They develop better coping skills; they might write a poem, paint a picture, or learn to play a musical instrument to deal with stress and frustration. They don't shoot up theaters and risk execution or almost-certain life imprisonment for the sheer Hell of it.

      Holmes wasn't very bright according to his mentor at Salk, John Jacobson. Undoubtedly, strings were pulled to get him into the program and to secure his generous stipend. James' father, Robert Holmes, was a very influential man who had excellent connections. (See the LA Times or the CSM on James Holmes' stint at Salk.) Jacobson basically implied Holmes was below par and stated that Holmes didn't understand the "basic science" behind the research he was ostensibly doing. Additionally, Holmes did very poorly in the grad program at University of Colorado.

      I think Holmes has outsmarted himself; the insanity defense won't fly--too much evidence of premeditation. I'd say Holmes knew he couldn't hack it in the real world and decided to make a name for himself the only way he could think of. Shows a real lack of imagination and an abundance of stupidity, not brilliance. He's also one evil SOB. (BTW, I've known a few grad students who weren't too sharp, and Holmes couldn't make in the grad/Ph.D. program, anyway. He tested very poorly, and that's why he dropped out.)
    • Lucy  •  4 mths ago
      Stop showing his picture. Stop saying his name. Call him suspect or unsub. Stop giving him publicity.....and stop saying how nice and brilliant he was ....he is a murderer, #$%$ garbage, to bad he wasn't shot at the scene.
    • D4rkD3f3nd3r  •  4 mths ago
      The media sure loves the Loners Are Freaks trope--regardless of gross inaccuracy.
    • Bill Melater  •  4 mths ago
      Add his parents to the list of injured victims. Their wounds will never heal.
    • Go Figure  •  4 mths ago
      I am glad lol we are all going to diagnose this guy. Who knows, genius is next to insanity. With his IQ and the lack of a job his arrogance could of taken over. I am no doctor by I am well read and could go on and on. I know we all have a need to vent over this horrible thing that has happened so close to home and the heart. No one will figure it out but bottom line we as a society can't fix these things and all those people are now dead and we tend to keep murders as pet projects in some home to study away at. There has to be a strong consequence for ones actions. One strong enough to make a person think things out better. You can become a full time student in jail or a sanitarium at our expense. Things are getting worse these days and the weapons used can't be blamed. Some have lost all respect for others.
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