A potential graduate of the UC-Riverside neuroscience program, Batman fanatic James Holmes was indicted on all 165 charges pertaining to a movie theater massacre on July 20, 2012, and is now eligible for the death penalty pending Colorado law.
Midnight had dawned over Aurora, Colorado, at the Century 16 movie theater when The Dark Knight Rises premiered in Theater 9, filling the auditorium to its capacity.
Thirty minutes into the film, a Caucasian male with a 6-foot-2 frame and neon orange hair stepped out through an exit door, propping it open for his return. Parked out back by the cinema’s rear entrance sat the male’s alfredo white Hyundai Tiburon, where a stockpile of 500 rounds of ammunition, tear gas canisters and three guns were awaiting activation.
After lacing up in riot gear and donning a gas mask, the suspect then re-entered Theater 9 by tossing a smoke grenade into the auditorium, releasing a plume of white smoke. At this time, most moviegoers attending The Dark Knight Rises believed this was a stunt in relation to the movie premiere, but seconds later, a moment of amusement turned into a night of terror.
The suspect, who now resembles law enforcement due to being draped in militaristic equipment, opened fire with a Smith and Wesson automatic rifle, showering the crowd with tear gas and bullets. Continuing in his cadence, the gunman’s rifle allegedly jammed after his bullets sprayed over the course of 82 or so bodies. The remainder of the patrons fled to Century 16’s main lobby.
But even the adjacent theater rooms heard the gun shots as they penetrated the walls next door.
After being delayed by a mechanical issue, the gunman resorted and retreated back to his Hyundai to retrieve his Glock 22 handgun. But to his dismay – and a hint of expectation – James Eagan Holmes was met and apprehended by Aurora policemen.
During an initial interview process while in police custody, Holmes – now defeated in his plot – admitted to law enforcement of configuring his apartment with homemade explosives and nail bombs.
After being informed about Holmes’ rigged apartment, a bomb squad approached the complex on Paris Street. But during an interview with one of Holmes’ neighbors, who complained about loud music from next door, felt obliged to check-in on the situation that night Holmes was at the theater.
With Holmes’ door cracked open to a possible nanometer of length, a natural suspicion rested over the neighbor and instead, she alerted authorities. But unaware of the real dangers lurking on the other side of that door stunned both her and the police.
A wire that controlled a domino effect of the explosives Holmes admitted to in police questioning. Investigators called it an intricate web of sophistication – a layout that, with one false step, could trigger detonation.
After an evacuation of the apartment complex, the only proper way to approach Holmes’ apartment was through compact windows. After 48-72 hours of deliberation, a bomb squad neutralized the apartment with a water bomb, which is a common tactic used in containing IED blasts.
Following the water bomb, a robot was deployed into Holmes’ room to ensure safe entry for law enforcement to start their raid.
In his first court appearance, Holmes drifted in and out of eye contact with the Arapahoe County judge. Some accounts believed this was a side effect of medication Holmes administered himself before his rampage, while others believe it was scripted to manipulate public – and albeit legal – perception on questions of insanity.
After gathering intel and summoning eyewitnesses, issuing subpoenas and lining up an impartial jury for the James Holmes trial, it wouldn’t be until this year that things got underway.
By absorbing the full 165 counts (24 counts of first-degree murder, 140 counts of attempted murder and one count of possession of an explosive device) given to James Holmes by Judge Carlos A. Samour, the next step in the legal process is a month’s worth of deciding on Holmes’ sentence – whether it’s life in prison or the death penalty.
But Colorado is a state well-known for its loopholes in treating crimes with capital punishment.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports