UPDATE 1:30 p.m. — The Poway Unified School District has issued a statement, confirming reports that James Holmes was a graduate of Westview High School, Class of 2006.
“On behalf of the Poway Unified School District, Superintendent [John] Collins joins the rest of the nation in offering our deepest condolences to the victims and their families,” the statement read.
UPDATE 1:00 p.m. — According to University of Colorado Hospital spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery, James Holmes was studying neuroscience in a Ph.D. program at the University of Colorado-Denver graduate school. Montgomery said Holmesenrolled in the neuroscience program in 2011 and was in the process of withdrawing. She said she did not know why he had decided to withdraw.
UPDATE 11:30 a.m. — More details are emerging about James Holmes, the suspected shooter in Thursday night’s movie theater massacre in Colorado.
Lt. Andra Brown of the San Diego Police Department briefed reporters outside James Holmes’ mother’s home Friday. Brown confirmed Holmes attended high school in San Diego before going to Colorado to pursue additional studies. Brown would not name either school.
San Diego media outlets have reported Holmes attended high school at Westview in Carmel Valley and graduated in 2006.
Brown said Holmes’ mother was in her house, but that his father has been “escorted from the home.” She did not elaborate further.
“The police department is just here to preserve the peace and to make sure the privacy of the family is still respected,” said Brown. “That’s the only reason why the San Diego police department is here.”
Brown also provided a statement to reporters from the family.
“Our hearts go out to those who were involved in this tragedy,” the statement read. “We ask that the media respect our privacy at this difficult time … We are still trying to process this info and appreciate that people respect our privacy.”
Margie Aguilar, who has lived for 10 years on the same San Diego block as Holmes’ family briefly spoke to HuffPost
“I feel heartbroken,” she said, adding that her children went to high school with the suspected shooter. “They’re [the Holmes family] victims in this, too. I want to respect their privacy.
“Everybody is in shock and devastated.”
Police are still trying to clear the suspect’s Aurora apartment. According to police, explosives found inside the unit are “very sophisticated” and could take some time to disarm.
The U.S. Army, in response to speculation that Holmes had served in the military, issued a statement that said they found “no evidence” he had served in the Army.”
EARLIER — An initial portrait of James Holmes, the man allegedly responsible for the mass shooting spree in a Colorado movie theater, is slowly emerging.
According to the police, Holmes lives in an apartment in Aurora, approximately five miles from the Century 16 movie theater where he gunned down at least 12 people and wounded 38 others during a midnight screening of the new Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Authorities at this hour are cautiously entering the apartment. The suspect, according to police, said he had explosives inside. The FBI has approximately 100 agents at the scene assisting with the investigation.
The FBI has revealed Holmes is a white male who is 6 feet, 3 inches tall and 24 years old, with a birth date of Dec. 13, 1987. Authorities have found no significant criminal record and no terrorist affiliations. Investigators suspect he acted alone.
A motive in the shooting is not yet known.
A San Diego, Calif., woman who identified herself as Holmes’ mother told ABC Newsshe had not yet been contacted by authorities. She said she was unaware of the shooting and expressed concern that her son may have been involved.
“You have the right person,” she said, apparently speaking on instinct and not second-guessing her son would be involved. “I need to call the police … I need to fly out to Colorado.”
Holmes reportedly had Tennessee license plates on the vehicle he was driving at the time of the shooting, but a connection to that state remains unclear. He was arrested next to the vehicle, without incident, after the shooting spree ended. Police say he was wearing a bullet-resistant vest and gas mask at the time of the shooting and was armed with two long guns and a handgun.
As updates continue to trickle in, MSNBC reports that a survivor of the massacre in Colorado said she first thought the man dressed in black who entered through an exit door was part of the premier of the movie.
James Holmes, Aurora Shooter, Described As ‘Smart Kid,’ Quiet Loner By Classmates
James Holmes, who is accused of shooting 71 people, killing 12, in a crowded theater at a midnight showing of the new Batman movie Friday, was a smart, quiet first-year student in a highly competitive graduate program, former classmates said.
“He was a loner,” said a classmate of Holmes’ in the neuroscience program at the University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, who requested anonymity. “He was quiet.”
Holmes, 24, graduated with honors from University of California-Riverside with a degree in neuroscience in spring 2010. He enrolled in the University of Colorado in June 2011, and was “in the process of withdrawing” at the time of the shooting, according to a university spokeswoman. Holmes graduated in 2006 from Westview High School in San Diego.
Brian Martinez, Holmes’ chemistry lab partner at Westview, recalled that he was a talented student. “He’s a smart kid,” Martinez said. “He was great at chemistry.”
Martinez said Holmes seemed to be a normal teenager. “I never figured he’d do anything like this.”
Students in the University of Colorado graduate neuroscience program are “highly motivated and typically have very strong credentials for admission,” according to a school website. The program is “very competitive,” Holmes’ university classmate said.
“Most people who enter get a Ph.D.,” he said.
A classmate of Holmes’ as anundergraduate at UC-Riverside, remembered him as an “impressive” student. “He is a smart guy and a quick learner,”said Hongxia Wang in an email.
New York Police commissioner Ray Kelly said at a press conference that Holmes had dyed-red hair and said that he was “The Joker,” the arch-nemesis of Batman, during the shooting. In a news conference Friday afternoon, Aurora police chief Dan Oates confirmed he had spoken to the NYPD, but declined to confirm Kelly’s statements.
“We are not speculating on motive,” Oates said.
An FBI spokesman said Holmes had no prior criminal record. His only previous encounter with police in Aurora is for a traffic ticket, Oates said.
Holmes was armed with an assault rifle, shotgun and two pistols, and wore a helmet, gas mask, bulletproof vest and other body armor, police said.
He surrendered to police shortly after the shooting, and alerted them to the presence of explosives in his apartment, a university-managed building 5 miles from the suburban Denver theater, police said. In the news conference, Oates confirmed that Holmes had rigged his apartment with “chemical and incendiary devices.”
“Our investigation determined that his apartment is booby-trapped,” Oates said. The explosives are “linked together by all kind of wires,” he said.
Zhang Yi, who lived in the red-brick apartment building with Holmes, crossed paths with him the night of the shooting. Holmes was carrying two black duffel bags out to his car, and ignored a greeting. “Very unfriendly,” Yi said.
Other neighbors reported that loud techno music began playing around midnight in Holmes’ apartment. “We heard very loud music coming so I walked upstairs and banged on the door,” Kaitlyn Fonzi, a 20-year old biology student at the University of Colorado at Denver, said on Friday.
She said when she banged on the door, it rattled as if it were unlocked. “I contemplated poking my head in and saying, ‘Yo, shut that off’.”
Fonzi and her boyfriend had never had a problem with their upstairs neighbor before, she said. “It was like nobody lived there.” When she learned about the shooting and that the apartment was wired, Fonzi said she was glad she hadn’t poked her head in.
Arthur Delaney, David Lohr, and William McGuinness contributed to this report.
By: David Lohr Huffingtonpost