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'Dark Knight' Massacre Suspect Has San Diego Ties [Video]

Rancho Penasquitos neighbors are shocked to hear James Holmes is accused in the shooting.

Updated at 6:45 p.m. July 20.

The Westview High School graduate suspected of gunning down and killing at least a dozen people in a Colorado movie theater early Friday morning was armed with several weapons and fully outfitted in tactical protective gear, according to authorities.

Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said James Holmes, 24, used an AR-15 assault rifle, a Remington H-70 12-gauge shotgun, and 40 caliber Glock handgun to shoot 71 people who were watching a screening of the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises.

He said another 40 caliber Glock handgun was found in the suspect’s car after he was apprehended.

Oates said about 200 officers responded to the scene after 911 calls began pouring in at about 12:40 a.m. Friday. Aurora is a suburb of Denver.

Dressed in black and suited up in a helmet and body armor, authorities say the alleged shooter used two devices that produced smoke to confused the audience at the Century Aurora 16 movie theater before opening fire.

Oates says 71 people were shot. Ten victims died at the scene, and two at local hospitals. One victim was injured by a round that pierced the wall of an adjoining theater. Colorado Governor John Hickenloooper said that as of Friday night, 30 people were still in the hospital. Eleven were in critical condition.

The Department of Defense issued a statement saying Holmes never served in the military. Military personnel, however, are among the casualties.

“One sailor was injured and one, known to have been at the theatre that evening, is currently unaccounted for,” the statement said. “Two airmen were injured in the incident. The Navy and the Air Force are working with the families of these service members to ensure they have the care and attention they need.” 

Just five miles from the scene of the massacre, investigators found the suspect’s third-story apartment booby-trapped with incendiary devices and trip wires. Oates called the scene a very difficult situation for the detectives.

Residents of the building, as well as five other buildings in the surrounding area, have been evacuated.

Authorities are not looking for any other suspects.

“We are confident he acted alone,” Oates said. The motive is unclear.

Locally, Holmes is being called a nice guy who had been struggling to find a job.

Holmes' next door neighbor Tom Mai said he was "shocked" to hear about the Aurora shooting, describing the alleged shooter as a "very nice guy."

"I cannot imagine this happening," said Mai, 61, who said he has lived here since 1983.

Mai said Holmes was struggling to find a job after studying neuroscience in college, and he went to Colorado to go back to school. The Holmes family was kind, Mai said, inviting his family over for Christmas parties in the 10 years they had been neighbors.

Mai has four children, including 16-year-old Anthony Mai who described James Holmes as a happy guy who walked around smiling.

The teen said he last saw Holmes about a year ago, and while the two were not close, he got the sense Holmes had been picked on.

Still, the teen said he didn't want people to jump to conclusions about his former neighbor's possible involvement in the shooting.

With the horrific shooting coming during a violent portion of the latest Batman movie, according to witness reports, Tom Mai wondered what effect movie, TV and video game violence are having on the nation's youth.

His own children aren't allowed to consume violent media, Mai said, and parents need to discipline their children more.

"I tell [my] children they have to pray to God, read the Bible and look at people that have high moral standards," he said, adding that the shooting victims are in his family's hearts.

News of Holmes' possible involvement spread quickly, with residents jamming the email inbox of Darshana Patel, who heads the Rancho Peñasquitos Town Council.

Patel, who said she spent three or four years of her childhood in Aurora, CO in the late 1970s, said people were shocked that one of their own could be tied to such a tragedy. She remembered Aurora as a beautiful community, and last visited eight or nine years ago, she said.

No one could ever expect that something like this would happen there, Patel said.

Other details are emerging that show Holmes to be a young student pursuing an advanced degree in neuroscience who didn't get into trouble at home in San Diego.

Holmes is a 2006 graduate of Westview High School who holds a bachelor's degree in neuroscience from the . He graduated from the school in spring of 2010, according to officials.

The Huffington Post is reporting Holmes was attending the University of Colorado-Denver in pursuit of a Ph.D in neuroscience, but was in the process of withdrawing from the program. University of Colorado Hospital spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery said she didn't know why he was exiting the program.

A search of San Diego Superior Court shows Holmes has no local record—not even a traffic ticket, said Karen Dalton, a public affairs officer with the court.

A press release from the Poway Unified School District says Dr. John Collins, the district superintendent, was contacted by the San Diego Police Department regarding the alleged shooter.

“On behalf of the Poway Unified School District, Superintendent Collins joins the rest of the nation in offering our deepest condolences to the victims and their families,” the release stated.

The suspected shooter's family, who live in Rancho Penaquitos, released the following statement:

"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, California, and Aurora, Colorado. We are still trying to process this information and we appreciate that people will respect our privacy."

The Aurora police department is leading the investigation, with assistance from agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said FBI special agent Darrell Foxworth.

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Colorado is coordinating the federal law enforcement response and working closely with the state District Attorney’s office with respect to any federal, state, or local charges that might be applicable, according to Foxworth.

San Diego police Lt. Andra Brown said officers are at the home only to provide with security.

"The police department is just here to preserve the peace and to make sure the privacy of the family is still respected," Brown said. "That's the only reason why the San Diego police department is here."

Arlene Holmes of San Diego told ABC News that her son is the man accused in this morning's massacre in Aurora, Colo., nine miles outside Denver.

Around daybreak, San Diego police officers were spotted in and outside of Holmes' residence in the Rancho Penasquitos area as media crews started to gather outside with video cameras. Police Chief William Lansdowne said the officers were there to provide security to the Holmes family and to assist Aurora police by gathering information for that agency's investigation.

Shortly before 7:30 a.m., police were spotted escorting a man out of the home and whisking him away in an unmarked police sedan. There was no immediate word on where the man was headed or his possible relation to the alleged shooter, but he was carrying what appeared to be luggage.

The shooting has prompted the , according to Iowa City Patch local editor Stephen Schmidt.

The tragedy also scrubbed a, by first lady Michelle Obama, according to Fredricksberg Patch local editor Dan Telvock.

AMC Theatres also announced a new policy that "face-covering masks or fake weapons" will not be permitted inside their buildings.

Stay with Patch for updates on this story.

—Deanne Goodman, Marlena Medford, Jennifer Vigil, Christine Domingo and City News Service contributed to this report.


Komfort July 21, 2012 at 06:08 AM
Fact: http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news/crime_tracker&id=7158139 Fact: http://bostonist.com/2008/06/24/boston_blotter_robbers_both_thwarte.php Fact: http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1454&dat=19940903&id=Nq0sAAAAIBAJ&sjid=BBUEAAAAIBAJ&pg=4511,808482
Things I Learned July 21, 2012 at 07:26 AM
United States non firearm homicide rate per 100000: 1.58 TOTAL homicide rate per 100000 selected "advanced" countries: 1.58 Canada 1.57 Australia 1.55 Chile 1.45 England/Wales 1.25 Spain 1.17 Germany 1.17 New Zealand 1.10 Ireland 1.09 Denmark 0.96 Switzerland 0.56 Hong Kong http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_violence#Homicide
Libi Uremovic July 21, 2012 at 01:26 PM
"...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,..." is that a purchase, or did the kid modify it himself?
Libi Uremovic July 21, 2012 at 01:40 PM
i spent a few years counseling people so yes, that's the way i view the situation...people fixate on something or someone without realizing how it effects their lives... it's not about gun control, it's about the weapons buildup....the kid was smart, but he didn't feel powerful.... instead of developing his strengths he fixated on his weaknesses ....and he found an industry that target markets that specific emotional state of mind...
greg Chick July 21, 2012 at 03:59 PM
I have read the comments, all I can say is having been a victim of violent crime before, I hope those who have not, realize they have opinions based on hearsay. Until full understanding of the physiology of the mind is better understood, (no not hugged and coddled), but understood, we will not know how to prevent this from happening. Having said that, I hope the media covers the solutions as well as the gore. He is not a "suspect", he is a killer, too bad they didn't take him down on the scene and said he is allegedly dead. There is nothing alleged about being a victim. Restorative Justice might help as base to use as a preventative option instead of what we have now.
Jim July 21, 2012 at 04:58 PM
@ Thing I learned. Do you truly believe the second amendment was written to protect our right to hunt????? If so you've got to be kidding
Sarah Riccitelli July 21, 2012 at 06:11 PM
How many more times does this shit have to happen before we stop easy gun ownership. Other countries do just fine without guns floating everywhere.
Sarah Riccitelli July 21, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Sorry I meant?
Things I Learned July 21, 2012 at 06:18 PM
We don't know either.
Sarah Riccitelli July 21, 2012 at 06:20 PM
Also, prisons usually don't help anyone and the Death Penalty is hypocritical! I'm proud that my cousin was able to get his life back on track after serving several years for armed robbery. I don't know maybe prison helped him but I do object to life sentences. Maybe rehab would do the job. I believe in 2nd chances. Finally, perhaps if someone had approached Holmes earlier, he may never have embarked on his rampage!
Things I Learned July 21, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Especially if they had a loaded gun when they approached him.
Sarah Riccitelli July 21, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Not exactly what I had in mind but sure I guess that would have worked.
Jim July 21, 2012 at 06:39 PM
The reason prison does not help is because they are treated like kings compared to how it used to be. Start having them toil every day breaking big rocks into little rocks and criminals would be terrified of going back. I spent several years in Germany in the US Army. The Polizei carry machine guns, citizens know they shoot first ask questions later. Would you believe in 2nd chances for Holmes? How about someone who murdered one of your family members in cold blood? How about an innocent unborn child?
Sarah Riccitelli July 21, 2012 at 06:50 PM
The police carry guns, not the citizens right? And I didn't mean murderers but people convicted of lesser crimes who some people would like to see in jail for life. And an unborn child is not a human being so the mom can choose to do what she wants with it. It doesn't make her a murderer. Abortion isn't murder! Oh and thanks for serving our country.
Sarah Riccitelli July 21, 2012 at 06:53 PM
As for cold blooded killers, they can either go to jail or be extradited to labor camps in Siberia if Russia agrees to it.
greg Chick July 21, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Cause and effect, responsibilities and accountabilities, maturities, all needs to be simple and fast. That way no confusing consequences. Even Dogs learn better than some people.
Jim July 21, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Until a human woman gives birth to a puppy I'm sticking with Human Being. To think that abortion has no place in the explanation for some Americas disregard for human life is not understanding the responsibility of adults setting good examples. I have seen numbers as high as 25 million guns owned by civilians in Germany with 17 million of them being registered. German population is roughly 80 million. Oh and you're welcome.
Gerold Firl July 22, 2012 at 09:15 AM
As "Things I learned" points out, the US non-firearm murder rate of 1.6/100,000 is similar or slightly higher than the TOTAL murder rate in other advanced countries. However, the US gun-murder rate of 3/100,000 gets added on top of that, so the total US murder rate is about 3X the other western countries. That's why gun nuts who claim that our high murder rate has nothing to do with our high gun rate sound a little kooky. Take the gun murders out of the equation, and we look like a pretty normal western nation. Add the gun murders, and we look like a third-world shooting gallery. There are more guns in the US than in any other country, and we have more gun murders than any advanced nation. Coincidence? Some people think so.
greg Chick July 22, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Cars kill more people than guns do, my point is cars require a license and a test and insurance. More control! This is not anti gun ownership or rights it is common sense. If you want a dangerous product, you must prove you are safe. Just like a car. This will not change criminals and will not change gun killings when people tweek, but is just common sense. People tweek, separate issue. Guns dont kill people do, that is true, out law guns and only outlaws will have guns is also true. Smarter educated prople are safer than uneducated people is also true. Want a gun learn the laws and safety, Prove by taking a test. Cant pass the test, then no donut. Greg Chick
Things I Learned July 22, 2012 at 04:59 PM
You have to have a license and insurance and pass a test to own a car.
Things I Learned July 22, 2012 at 05:22 PM
United States Total Homicide Rate per 100,000 versus Firearms Ownership per 1,000 by Year 1950 (4.6).....[381.3] 1960 (5.1).....[430.6] 1970 (7.9).....[548.7] 1980 (10.2)...[737.9] 1990 (9.4).....[853.3] 2000 (5.5).....[925.8]* 2010 (4.8).....[888.0]** *1999 data http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10881&page=57 **2007 data http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/fileadmin/docs/A-Yearbook/2007/en/Small-Arms-Survey-2007-Chapter-02-annexe-4-EN.pdf homicide rates: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/homicide/tables/totalstab.cfm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_the_United_States#Crime_over_time
Cyrus Kamada July 22, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Another fuzzy-headed apologist, trying to take away our 2nd amendment rights http://www.examiner.com/article/rupert-murdoch-calls-for-tougher-gun-control-agreeing-with-mayor-bloomberg
Things I Learned July 22, 2012 at 05:33 PM
We should listen to what billionaires tweet about our Constitutional rights. From the link: "Rupert Murdoch has been in the news of late when a scandal erupted last year that Murdoch’s now-defunct News of the World tabloid had systematically hacked voice mails of politicians and celebrities. He has since resigned as a director of a number of News Corp. boards overseeing his Britain newspapers."
Cyrus Kamada July 22, 2012 at 05:42 PM
TIL, no of course not. One opinion is a good as the next. That includes mine and it includes yours. It's just interesting. I certainly wouldn't have expected it.
Larry July 22, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Before anyone talks of tougher gun control laws, please look at the gun control laws in Toronto.
Things I Learned July 22, 2012 at 05:53 PM
http://splicd.com/X-rkFaIPyL4/6/11 ;-)
Jim July 22, 2012 at 06:03 PM
I don't know what federal law is but you have to take a test to purchase a hand gun in CA unless you have a DD214 (ex-military). I believe states still require hunters safety cards to get hunting licenses, which requires taking a course and passing a test. I don't believe If people are hell bent on doing these horrible things no gun law or licensing requirement will make a difference. Look at cities with the most strict gun laws.
Gerold Firl July 22, 2012 at 08:58 PM
Wow Jim, you seem to have your facts on backwards. According to the data, it's quite clear that legalized abortion has had a major effect on REDUCING the crime rate in the US and other countries: http://www.freakonomics.com/2005/05/15/abortion-and-crime-who-should-you-believe/
Things I Learned July 22, 2012 at 09:19 PM
"Oops-onomics Did Steven Levitt, author of “Freakonomics”, get his most notorious paper wrong?" "... Fixing that error reduces the effect of abortion on arrests by about half, using the original data, and two-thirds using updated numbers. But there is more. In their flawed test, Messrs Donohue and Levitt [the Freakonomicists] seek to explain arrest totals (eg, the 465 Alabamans of 18 years of age arrested for violent crime in 1989), not arrest rates per head (ie, 6.6 arrests per 100,000). This is unsatisfactory, because a smaller cohort will obviously commit fewer crimes in total. Messrs Foote and Goetz, by contrast, look at arrest rates, using passable population estimates based on data from the Census Bureau, and discover that the impact of abortion on arrest rates disappears entirely. “I am simply not convinced that there is a link between abortion and crime,” Mr Foote says." http://www.economist.com/node/5246700

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