Jan. 30, 2022

James Holmes // Part 2 // 95 // Mass Shooting

James Holmes // Part 2 // 95 // Mass Shooting

James Eagan Holmes is a mass murderer responsible for the 2012 Aurora, Colorado shooting at a Century 16 movie theater on July 20th, 2012.  He didn't have any known criminal background prior to the shooting, but his behavior was very erratic.  Before the shooting, James built homemade bombs and booby-trapped his apartment.  He was sentenced to 12 consecutive life sentences plus 3,318 years without parole.


Even though Dr. Fenton was frantically trying to figure out what was happening with James, her hands were tied. You can't just simply have someone committed against their will. You have to have to have proof that they plan to hurt themselves or someone else. James mailed a notebook to Dr. Fenton on July 19th, just hours before the shootings. He claims he wanted her to use it for education and he wanted to have his story told in case he died in the theater. The notebook had detailed plans and steps for the “mission”. He used stick figures to show the value of a human life. Each person equals the number 1 and that value drops to zero when they die. On June 13th, James spent about $1200 on ammunition, ten extra thirty round magazines for his rifle, a special high-capacity 100-round drum magazine, and a Beamshot laser sight. This is a lighting system that can be mounted under the barrel of a gun to use in low light. The handgun ammunition was jacketed hollow point which means the bullet is designed to expand upon impact and it increases the killing power. The rifle cartridges had full metal jacket bullets meaning they are able to get through a shield or a theater seat easily. He purchased human silhouette targets and signed up for a membership at a shooting range, but his application was turned down. 

James applied for unemployment benefits during this time and continued purchasing supplies for the shooting. He bought spirit lenses which are contacts that make your eyes look different and they were completely black. I'll post photos, but they're awful. On June 28th, he ordered another 2,500 rounds of ammunition for his handgun, 2,500 rounds for the rifle, and 50 rounds for his shotgun from an online dealer. He spent $335 on an advanced combat ballistic helmet and he stopped by the Century 16 cinema to take photos on his phone. On July 1st, he purchased items from Gander Mountain and his hair had been dyed a bright orange-red color. People in the store noticed the hair and also saw that his eyes were wide open, like crazed. The next day, he was buying more weapons and an urban assault vest. James was pulled over by the police on July 2nd for speeding. The officer noticed a rifle case in the back seat and James said he was heading to the shooting range and he was released with a warning. James was seen at the shooting range that day, then he picked up a heavy package at FedEx. It was 170 pounds of ammunition. 

He went online and purchased ignitable and electronic fuse materials, hollow plastic balls with fuse holes, and a launch control receiver. James paid for expedited shipping. On July 4th, he posted on forums asking people what their favorite bomb was and how they make it. His parents called that night and this was the last time they talked to him before the shooting. They told James they loved him and would send him money or help with anything he needed. They transferred $5k into his account and the unemployment benefits he applied for were denied. James was clearly spending a lot of time planning the shooting, but he still had time to play hours of online games. He also updated his profile and Match.com and created a profile on adult friend finder where he said he was looking for a short term relationship. He mentioned that he preferred to listen and not talk and he has soul penetrating eyes. He favorite book was Where's Waldo? He spends a lot of time thinking about the future and women should message him if he's looking for sexy times. 

James took selfies prior to the murders because he was worried about his legacy and wanted to have pictures for future viewers. While he was planning things out, he was back and forth between a movie theater or an airport. He wanted it to be easy and have the maximum casualties. He decided to go with the Century 16 because it would be isolated and it was large. Once he made this decision, he went to the theater several times and drew the layout in his notebook. He included the exit paths that people might use and he wanted to make sure he blocked their escape. He also calculated how much time it took to get from the police department to the theater. James knew that the midnight premiere of the 2012 Batman sequel, The Dark Knight Rises would draw a large number of people. He purchased his ticket online to make sure he got a seat in the correct auditorium. This didn't actually work though because the auditoriums are random and he got the one he didn't want. He kept buying multiple tickets hoping he'd end up getting Auditorium 9. 

James started telling his friends that he had dysphoric mania which is a mood disorder related to bipolar disorder. It's actually a former term of bipolar, but it can mean that you have mixed features or episodes of mania. He kept using this as an excuse to explain his odd behavior. Oh it's not my fault, it's the dysphoric mania. There is no evidence that James actually had this and he wasn't diagnosed with it. He would later claim that he had to kill to prevent himself from taking his own life. He wrote in his notebook, “Death is life's fallback solution to all problems.. What is the meaning of life? If you destroy all life then there is no question of meaning.” 

On July 13th, FRIDAY the 13th, James wrote on page 54 of his notebook. “Embraced the hatred, a dark knight rises.” He went to the ATM and got several hundred dollars all in 20s and burned the corners of all the bills. He purchased a mailing envelope to ship the notebook and burnt money to Dr. Fenton and he went to the website for the local hospital and put the phone number for their mental health hotline in his phone. Then, he went shopping again. This time he went to The Science Company to get materials for his bombs. He went to Walmart to get cold packs and ended up going to several stores searching for the correct ones. Cold packs used to contain ammonium nitrate which can be used to make powerful explosives, but they were starting to contain much less at this point which is why he wasn't finding what he needed. On July 16th, James spent the day filling his apartment with booby traps and bombs. He didn't have previous knowledge of this, but he found instructions online. He packed some spheres with gunpowder, some with gasoline, and he filled some pop bottles with gasoline. He poured homemade napalm (nay-palm) a mixture o gasoline and ground up styrofoam cups into large pickle jars with rifle and pistol cartridges. This was designed to explode in the intense heat when everything caught on fire. The leftover gasoline was placed in the microwave and James sprayed air freshener all over the apartment so the neighbors wouldn't smell the fumes. 

It took 2 or 3 days to get the bombs ready and James just casually went about his days like normal. He just ate meals and slept with all the bombs surrounding him. On the morning of July 19th, he spent time wiring the firebombs to the detonators and setting up a remote detonating device for his apartment. James set up a tripwire at the door that would set off the bombs if someone entered and he programmed a CD to play loud music in the apartment after he left. He was hoping that neighbors would complain and call the police or even open the door themselves. He set up a boom box, a remote control toy tank, and a remote controller in the parking lot near the dumpster. The boom box would play music to lure someone over. Maybe someone would attempt to operate the remote and set off the bombs in the apartment. This was set up as a diversion to see if he could lure the police to the apartment while he was murdering people at the theater to buy him extra time. 

James arranged all the weapons on his bed and took photos of them. He also took some selfies in the hours prior to the shooting. Around 11 PM, he took a dose of a pain killer, hydrocodone so that he could keep shooting even if he was wounded. He poured gasoline all over the carpet, set the music, and got the wires ready for the bombs. The CD in the apartment would play roughly 25 minutes of silence, then the music would start blasting. On July 20th, Geovany Padilla (Pah-dee-ya) heard music playing near the dumpster. He found a boom box and saw a toy car and a remote control. He took the boom box home with him and left the car and remote. At about 12:10 AM, one of the neighbors in the apartment called the police to report loud music. James arrived at the Century 16 and parked his vehicle near the exit of Auditorium 9. He didn't really stand out when he entered the theater. He was wearing dark clothing and his orange hair was covered with a hat. He arrived slightly after midnight and blended in with the crowd. James had already purchased his ticket online, so he went to the kiosk and printed his ticket for The Dark Knight Rises in Auditorium 8, but went to Auditorium 9. 

He sat in the very front and the theater was already dark and previews were playing. He immediately took out his phone and pretended that he got a call and was politely trying to take it outside. He propped the exit door open with a plastic clip and left through the door on the right side. He got in his car and began putting all of his gear on. The car windows were heavily tinted so no one was able to see what he was doing. He says he felt very calm and collected at this time. He called the mental health hotline that he saved in his phone and he didn't hear anything. The call disconnected after 9 seconds. James claims that if someone had answered, he may have talked to them to see if he should go through with his planned mission. A hotline operator later confirmed that they did answer his call and didn't hear anything and the line was abruptly disconnected. He opened his car door and two tear gas canisters fell out and rolled away. He headed to the exit door and waited for several minutes. Only a few people noticed that the exit door opened. James put his earbuds in and turned up the music on his ipod and activated a metal fuse on the Clear Out tear gas canister and it made a hissing noise. He threw it to his right and bright sparks and smoke were shooting across the front of the screen. Some of the moviegoers thought it was a dumb prank or that maybe some idiot had thrown a firecracker, but then the shooting started.

Most people were trapped in the auditorium when the shooting began. When he saw people trying to get up, he would shoot in that direction. One victim said he saw muzzle flashes every 2-3 seconds, it was non-stop. Blood was everywhere and some people tried to run, while others tried to play dead. James used tear gas to keep people disoriented so they couldn't escape. There was one exit and it was not near him. He wanted to make sure that people weren't running to an exit by him because they might try to hurt him. This way, he could be away from them and shoot at victims when they tried to get out. James overloaded one of the magazines which forced an extra cartridge into it causing a misfeed. He pulled out the magazine and attempted to insert another, but it wouldn't click into place. About 65 rifle shell casings, 5 handgun casings, and 6 shotgun shells were left in the theater as James walked out the exit door. Several people escaped out the same door after him and noticed that the concrete was slippery due to the pools of blood. 

At 12:38 AM, the first of 42 emergency calls came in from the theater. The dispatcher had a difficult time hearing the caller, Kevin Quinonez over the screams and gunshots. They were able to distinctly hear 30 gunshots during the 27 second call and police were dispatched in less than a minute, but the shootings had stopped by the time they arrived. Roughly 130 officers arrived at Century 16 within minutes of the 911 calls that began pouring in. As they arrived on scene, they could see people running out the exits and many of them were covered in blood. The people that couldn't run were lying on the floor of the theater. James left footprints in the blood as he walked out the theater and headed to his car. He dropped his rifle on the ground, put his Glock on the roof of his car, and stopped to take off his body armor. Two policemen were walking towards James and he wondered if he should kill them, but decided against this. 

Officers Jason Sweeney and Jason Oviatt followed the blood spatters on the sidewalk and saw someone dressed in SWAT gear, a black helmet, and a gas mask, standing near an open car door. At first, they thought it was another officer, but as they got closer, they could see that the gas mask wasn't anything like the police would typically use. Oviatt saw that the man was just casually standing by the car door and there was no sense of urgency. They heard on the radio that there was gas in the theater. They instantly knew that if this guy wasn't a cop, they were about 20 feet away from the shooter. Oviatt grabbed his gun and yelled, “Show us your hands!” James put his hands up and followed instructions to get on the ground. He was handcuffed and the officers noticed a hard-shell rifle case in the backseat of the car. They didn't know if there had been one active shooter or multiple, so they were trying to move as quickly as possible when they cuffed James. He didn't resist or talk, but a pistol magazine dropped from his vest when he was cuffed and another fell out of his pocket when he was searched. The officers asked James he if had any bombs or explosives and he said there were improvised explosive devices in his apartment that were set to go off if you trip them.

James was described as unnaturally calm and relaxed. He smelled horrible and was dripping sweat from the heat of the body armor and vest. As officers were stripping everything off James, they heard a small voice inside the trash enclosure asking if they were cops. A woman who escaped from the theater had climbed over a wall and hid in the fenced in area with the dumpster. Officers realized there was a green dot shining from the area near James' car and believed there was another shooter. They soon realized it was coming from the handgun that James placed on top of his car. The parking lot was so full of police that it was getting tough for ambulances to get through. Officers quickly began loading victims into their vehicles to help transport them to the hospital. Officer Grizzle said he remembers hearing the sound of blood sloshing on the floorboards behind his seat as he drove. 

James was taken to an interview room to wait for his interrogation. He was slumped in a chair with his head resting against his hand. After he was read his Miranda rights, he immediately requested a lawyer and the interview was over. He sat in the room for several more hours and paper bags were placed over his hands and taped to his wrists to preserve gunshot residue. Within hours of his arrest, the Hazardous Devices Unit and emergency responders were surrounding the apartment and evacuating all surrounding buildings. At 6:15 AM on July 20th, SWAT officers arrived to start their disarming procedures. After the entire building was cleared out, they went to apartment # 10 and had a remote control robot open the unlocked door. Lights from the robot illuminated the lines of white powder on the carpet and they saw a tripwire of fishing line that went from a pushpin in the wall to an open plastic jug. If someone had walked into the apartment without knowing what was in there, they would have tripped the wire, a jug of glycerin would tip into a skillet of potassium permanganate and the room would be filled with sparks and fire. The team put a pole camera into the living room through the broken window and it took all day to carefully examine everything in the apartment through cameras.

The police needed to question James about the explosives he used to see if they could figure things out and speed things up. He had already mentioned that he didn't want to kill any children at the theater so they told him that they were concerned that a child might get hurt if they don't disable the bombs properly. James agreed to describe everything he used and told them how the bombs could be defused. The next morning at 11 AM, the robot went into the apartment and moved the jug away from the skillet. The robot grabbed the jug and carried it out of the apartment. Suddenly, there was an explosion in the kitchen and the freezer door shot into the dining room and some framed posters crashed to the floor. Police had intentionally destroyed a fireworks ignition transmitter, but there was still flammable materials including gunpowder and gasoline in a kitchen cabinet. The robot continued to dismantle the bombs and experts were taking the explosives away to be disposed of. Some bombs were detonated in concrete blocks, some materials were burned, and others were placed in special containers with cushioning materials. 

It took a long time before residents could return to the apartments and many of them never came back. Three days later, bins at the US Postal Service had to be emptied because police knew that James had mailed a package to Dr. Fenton and they didn't know if it was dangerous. Staff members had masks and gloves on as they gently sifted through the mail. When they found the package, a robot was sent into the mail room to retrieve it and set it by an x-ray machine. They found the notebook and $400 dollars with all the bills burnt on the corners.

This case blew up in the media and was turned into something that it wasn't. I don't know about you, but I clearly remember hearing that James identified with the Joker from Batman and there is no evidence of this. James never said anything of the sort. In fact, he flat denied that this was the case. Dr. Woodcock was tasked with assessing James to see if he was fit to stand trial. James explained that he had to murder people so he didn't kill himself, it took the urge away. He didn't have any hallucinations, he didn't hear any voices, but he did see shadows around him. He couldn't provide any logical reason for the shootings, not that there ever is one, but his only motive was that it stopped him from harming himself which is delusional. Dr. Woodstock only interviewed James one time and he wasn't allowed to ask him any questions about the shooting. He concluded that James had a schizoaffective disorder. This is a mental illness that includes significant mood instability, depression, and mania. He also diagnosed him with antisocial personality disorder and an anxiety disorder. Somehow, this doctor sort of disappeared and didn't do any follow ups with James. Also, he didn't prescribe any medications after making a diagnosis, so James didn't receive any medications for months after his arrest.  While James was in prison waiting for trial, his parents wrote to him often and he never wrote back. He claimed that it's because he had to be careful since everything was being monitored. He actually would get excited when he received letters from his parents and was upset when he didn't hear from his sister for a long time. His sister Chris did end up sending a few letters later on and it took months before his family was allowed to see him. His family lived in California and James was in Colorado, so they visited him when they came to town for court hearings. He was bummed that his friends from graduate school never wrote to him because they had all been so close, but believes that they would think of him as being a good friend. James thinks that his friends shouldn't be mad at him over the shooting because it didn't directly interfere with their lives, so they should be supportive. 

In the book, it's mentioned that James disliked the way people talked about him and how he was portrayed in the media. He feels misunderstood and believes that people don't have the full picture of his life to understand what really happened. For several months, James kept to himself in prison and didn't really bother with talking to anyone. He was under 24 hour surveillance and was monitored by video. He exercised, but gained weight from all of the commissary snacks. He read books from the library cart and didn't cause any trouble. At about 4:30 AM on November 11th, 2012, video surveillance shows James climbing up his bunk, standing up, and facing the wall. He was still for a moment, touched his beard with his left hand, and reached out to the wall a few times. He crossed his arms on his chest, gripped his shoulders, and 30 seconds later, he let his body fall backwards off the bunk. He did lift his head and put his arm out before his back slammed into the floor and James later said he didn't remember what he was thinking during that time. Within minutes, guards were at his cell and James was just laying on the floor with his arms crossed. He was sent to BC which is behavior control and he was under a suicide watch. He was given a suicide gown and a suicide blanket which are made of materials that can't be torn so you can't hurt yourself. 


Schizotypal personality disorder - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic

Exclusive: Inside the Prison Assault on Aurora Theater Shooter James Holmes - ABC News (go.com)

A Dark Night In Aurora Inside James Holmes And The Colorado Mass Shootings by William H. Reid

Vigil: Aurora honors theater shooting victims (thedenverchannel.com)

James Holmes | Criminal Minds Wiki | Fandom

Remembering the Aurora movie theater shooting victims - Bing video

Aurora shooting victim Ashley Moser, shot in the belly, was pregnant with a child who also survived the attack: report - New York Daily News (nydailynews.com)

Aurora’s Memorial To The 2012 Theater Shooting Takes Flight | Colorado Public Radio (cpr.org)