Dark Knight Rises Shooting Suspect: Who Is James Holmes?

Friends, colleagues and law-enforcement officials paint a clearer picture of the man accused of killing 12 and injuring 59 others at a Colorado movie screening

By Alexis L. Loinaz Jul 20, 2012 8:51 PMTags
Batman Theatre Shooting Suspect Mr. James HolmesSplash

A clearer picture is starting to emerge of the gunman behind the largest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Local police have identified James Holmes, 24, as the suspected trigger man who left 12 dead and 59 others injured after allegedly opening fire at a Colorado screening of The Dark Knight Rises early Friday morning. Holmes was arrested at a parking lot outside the theater shortly afterward.

Here's what we know about Holmes so far, and his alleged shooting rampage that has left a nation in deep shock...

• Local police confirm that the shooting began at approximately 12:39 a.m. at the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, and Holmes was apprehended shortly thereafter outside the rear of the multiplex, next to his parked white Hyundai vehicle.

• Police recovered an AR-15 assault rifle and two .40 caliber Glock handguns on Holmes; a fourth weapon, a Remington shotgun, was retrieved from the theater. All the firearms were obtained legally. Holmes didn't resist arrest, and no other suspects were believed to be involved.

• Holmes was reportedly wearing all-black ballistics gear, including a helmet, bulletproof vest, leggings, throat protector, groin protector, tactical gloves and gas mask. Police believe he set off two smoke or tear-gas devices to distract the crowd before opening fire. His car was said to be stockpiled with additional ammunition.

• Various reports have surfaced claiming that Holmes supposedly told police that he was the Joker and sported red hair, but Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates refused to comment on the claims. However, at a press conference in New York City, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told reporters, "It clearly looks like a deranged individual. He has his hair painted red. He said he was the Joker, obviously the enemy of Batman."

• Holmes was an Aurora resident who lived about four miles from the theater. Chief Oates confirms that when police investigated his home, they discovered that the apartment had been "booby-trapped with wires," prompting authorities to immediately evacuate residents from five nearby buildings. Bomb technicians were reportedly dispatched to disarm explosive materials that were found on the scene.

• Police confirm that Holmes had no criminal history, and had only been cited for speeding in October 2011

• Early Friday, a San Diego woman who identified herself as Holmes' mother spoke with ABC News and, when informed that her son had been named a suspect in the shootings, reportedly said, "You have the right person...I need to call the police. I need to fly out to Colorado."

• In statement obtained by E! News, Holmes' family said: "Our hearts go out to those who were involved in this tragedy and to the families and friends of those involved. We ask that the media respect our privacy during this difficult time. Our family is cooperating with authorities in both San Diego and Aurora, Colo. We are still trying to process this information and we appreciate that people will respect our privacy."

•  A spokesman for the San Diego Police Department confirmed to reporters that Holmes attended high school in San Diego and then packed up for Colorado to continue his studies.

• A former schoolmate of Holmes at Westview high school in San Diego tells E! News exclusively that Holmes was a "really smart" student who kept to himself. "He was really smart, kinda nerdy and not too talkative with people he wasn't friends with." The source adds that Holmes, who reportedly went by the nickname Jimmy and wasn't involved in extracurricular sports or clubs, "didn't really have any long-term girlfriends, but I do remember him having dates to dances."

• According to published reports, Holmes' neighbors characterized the 24-year-old as a loner who sometimes greeted fellow tenants but often appeared shy. He also purportedly had trouble landing a job after completing his studies in California.

• Contrary to earlier reports, Holmes was not a medical student. Dan Meyers, communications director for the University of Colorado School of Medicine, tells E! News: "He was in a graduate program in neuroscience. That's different from being in the School of Medicine. The graduate program is part of the University of Colorado Denver. The neuro program is located on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Colo."

• In a statement, the school's Anschutz Medical Campus confirms that Holmes "was in the process of withdrawing from the University of Colorado Denver's graduate program in neurosciences," where he had enrolled in June 2011."

• E! News has confirmed that Holmes is scheduled to appear in an Arapahoe County courtroom on Monday in Centennial, Colo., where the district attorney is expected to bring the charges against him. No time has yet been set for the court hearing.

—Additional reporting by Brett Malec and Baker Machado