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Homepage / White House

Details Emerge Surrounding Colorado Gunman

photo of Alexandra  Jaffe
July 22, 2012

Though more details have emerged surrounding Colorado shooting suspect James Holmes, few offer an explanation for the former graduate student and aspiring scientist's motives.

The 24-year-old who has been accused of murdering 12 and wounding 58 in a Thursday-night massacre at the opening of the new Batman film at a theater in Aurora, Colo., dropped out of a doctoral program in neuroscience at the University of Colorado in Denver, despite having received a prestigious National Institutes of Health grant, the Associated Press reports. According to a resume obtained by the Press-Enterprise in Riverside, Calif., Holmes once interned at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and studied bird anatomy while an undergraduate at the University of California, Riverside. In 2008, he worked as a counselor at Camp Max Straus, a Los Angeles camp for underprivileged children.

Friends and acquaintances have described him as a smart, quiet person immersed in his studies, according to the Los Angeles Times. He had worn body armor during the shooting and had died his hair red, and mentioned something about being the Joker, the villain in the last Batman movie. Multiple reports say a poster could be seen hanging in his apartment, with ABC News reporting officials found a Batman poster and the AP reporting a poster advertising a paintball DVD called "Soldiers of Misfortune" could be seen on his wall.

According to the AP, one of the weapons Holmes used during the shooting, a semiautomatic assault rifle that could fire 50-60 rounds per minute, jammed, forcing Holmes to switch to a less powerful weapon. Holmes began amassing weapons in May, ultimately collecting six weapons and at least 6,000 bullets, all legally, Bloomberg Businessweek reports. He had also booby-trapped his apartment in an effort officials said publicly was designed to kill or maim any first responders, according to Reuters, which led local officials to evacuate his housing complex until they were able to disable the explosives.

President Obama will visit Aurora on Sunday to offer his condolences, with a two-and-a-half-hour trip planned to meet with the families of the victims of the shooting and local officials, the AP reports, after which he'll jet to California for a previously planned campaign trip.

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