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Who knew what, when about shooting suspect James Holmes?

The University of Colorado psychiatrist who saw James Holmes once had warned campus police last June – a month before the movie-theater shooting – that he posed a danger, newly released court documents show.

By Correspondent / April 5, 2013

Aurora, Colo., theater shooting suspect James Holmes sits in the courtroom during his arraignment in Centennial, Colo., last month.

RJ Sangosti/Denver Post/AP/File


A psychiatrist who briefly treated James Holmes, suspect in last summer's Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting, told University of Colorado campus police a month before the attack that he was having homicidal thoughts and could be a danger to the public, according to newly unsealed court documents.

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Ryan Brown edits the Africa Monitor blog and contributes to the national and international news desks of the Monitor. She is a former Fulbright fellow to South Africa and holds a degree in history from Duke University. 

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Dr. Lynne Fenton, who worked at and for the university, met with Mr. Holmes just once, on June 11, 2012, and approached campus police the next day “due to homicidal statements he had made,” said a search warrant affidavit made public Thursday by Arapahoe County District Judge Carlos Samour Jr., who took over the Holmes case this week.

Dr. Fenton also reported that Holmes had stopped seeing her and soon after had “begun threatening her via text messages.” She made her report to police, according to the affidavit, because she knew she was required by law to do so.

Campus police responded by deactivating Holmes’s student identification card. The documents do not reveal if police conducted any further investigation, and CU police have not elaborated on actions it took after receiving Fenton's report.

A month later, on July 20, Holmes allegedly stormed a movie theater in a Denver suburb during a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises,” killing 12 and injuring 70.

Much of the information contained in the newly released warrants – which authorized searches of Holmes’s apartment, car, and phone, among other locations – had already been revealed in earlier hearings and court filings. But the new documents revealed additional details and contextual information about the case.

For instance, one warrant states that after the shootings police initially mistook Holmes for a fellow officer when they noticed him lingering beside his car outside the theater. When officers later arrested Holmes, they asked if he had any accomplices, to which he responded, “it is just me.”

The documents also shed additional, although limited, light on Holmes’s personal life. In a search of his apartment, police found sedatives, anti-anxiety medication, and antidepressants. He owned several video games, including "Skyrim," "StarCraft," and "Oblivion," and had a poster on his wall from the movie “Pulp Fiction.” Other objects recorded in the apartment include 48 cans of beer, a stack of textbooks, and a Batman mask.

Although most of the details from the newly released documents simply deepen the already-established narrative about Holmes, some directly contradict earlier reports and testimony. 

As the Denver Post writes,

For instance, prosecutors have previously revealed that Holmes made threats and had his key-card access cut off. But CU officials have denied that Holmes was banned from campus for making threats, saying instead that his key card was deactivated as part of a normal process when a student withdraws from school – which Holmes was doing at the time of the alleged threats.

Likewise, the affidavits contradict a statement Fenton made when testifying during an earlier hearing in the case. Fenton said she went to police in June with concerns about a patient. But, when asked whether she had ever reported a dangerous patient to police because she was required to by law, Fenton said she hadn't.

The documents were released Thursday after several media outlets petitioned for them to be unsealed, arguing that their contents had likely already been made public in the course of the court proceedings.

Holmes’s trial will begin Feb. 14, 2014. On April 1, prosecutors announced they will seek the death penalty. Holmes’s defense team is widely expected to use an insanity defense.


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