James Holmes, Dark Knight Massacre Suspect, From Southern California, Attended UC Riverside
Updated at the bottom: L.A. mayor wants to ban assault weapons nationwide. And: New York's top cop says the suspect fashioned himself as "The Joker." First posted at 1:10 p.m.
The 24-year-old suspected of killing 12 and injuring 59 at an Aurora, Colorado, opening of the Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises this morning is a Southern California man named James Holmes.
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UC Riverside acknowledged in statement that the alleged gunman is a 2010 graduate who received a B.S. in neuroscience.
He also went to high school in San Diego County:
[Mobile phone video of people leaving the theater after the attack]:
According to the Poway Unified School District, located in the northeast portion of the county, Holmes graduated from Westview High School in 2006.
U-T San Diego says that campus is near that city's community of Rancho Peñasquitos, where his parents still live.
San Diego Police Lt. Andra Brown told the Weekly that officers were posted outside the Holmes family residence as a precaution:
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We our out at the home because it's an otherwise peaceful, quiet residential neighborhood. The dozen-plus news trucks and helicopters there are pretty disruptive to the neighborhood. We want to make sure residents' privacy is respected.
He was in Colorado, apparently, to attend the University of Colorado Medical School as a neuroscience graduate student but was in the process of withdrawing.
That school stated:
On behalf of CU-Boulder Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano and the entire campus community, we extend our thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims of the shootings in Aurora. We are offering counseling resources to those in our campus community who might be impacted by this tragedy ...
A neighbor of the Holmes family, Tom Mai, told the Los Angeles Times that the suspect "seemed to be a normal kid, I don't know what triggered it. This makes me very sad."
Police evacuated the area around Holmes' Colorado apartment after he allegedly told cops he had booby trapped his residence with explosive devices, according to the New York Times.
Cops said that Holmes was prepared for a massacre when he arrived at the midnight showing of the Batman franchise film at the Century 16 Movie Theater at 14300 E Alameda Ave. in Aurora. He was wearing body armor, a gas mask and a "tactical helmet."
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According to an Aurora police statement:
Police were told the suspect "appeared" at the front of one of the theaters, threw some type of gas or explosive device and started shooting.
... The Police Department can confirm that 12 persons are deceased, with the bodies of 10 victims still at the crime scene inside the theater. At least two more victims died at area hospitals. The Police Department previously released a preliminary number of 14 dead, but only 12 can be confirmed at this time. Approximately 50 total persons were shot, including the deceased.
The FBI was assisting with the investigation.
The L.A. County Sheriff's Department today said it was on "heightened alert" as a result of the massacre. Capt. Mike Parker:
While the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado appears to be an isolated incident, our vigilance has been raised. The heightened alert of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department includes increased patrols to create a more visible presence at movie theaters and other places where people congregate.
[Update at 2:58 p.m.]: New York police commissioner Raymond Kelly told reporters at a news conference today that the suspect
was dressed as identified with the Batman character "The Joker" when he arrived at the Aurora theater.
Kelly said he had spoken to the police chief in Aurora about the suspect:
He had his hair painted red, he said he was 'The Joker,' obviously the 'enemy' of Batman.
[Update at 3:35 p.m.]: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said, in reaction to the tragedy, that stricter gun laws and uniform waiting periods for firearms purchases should happen nationwide:
Now more than ever we need to address issues surrounding the proliferation of assault weapons in American society. It's beyond time for the political leaders of this nation, in a bipartisan fashion, to make it wholly more difficult to own assault weapons--guns that have no rational place in our communities.
It's time for the federal government to again ban these weapons, just like California enacted the nation's toughest law against assault weapons nearly two decades ago. It's time for nationwide background checks and waiting periods so guns don't fall into the wrong hands--criminal hands--only to be used against innocent victims in everyday crimes as well as mass murders. Our lawmakers need to come together and do more than just talk about the pain and sorrow in the aftermath of these gun violence tragedies. They need to act. They need to take a stand.
Villaraigosa ordered flags at all city facilities to be flown at half-staff through Wednesday in honor of those killed in Aurora.
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