Colorado authorities were preparing a series of ‘controlled detonations’ in the booby-trapped apartment of the 24-year-old student accused of going on a shooting rampage in a crowded movie theater during a showing of the new ‘Batman’ film, police said on Saturday.
Bomb experts triggered at least one small controlled explosion Saturday at suspect James Holmes’ apartment, according to witnesses.
“We have been successful in defeating the first threat, which includes defeating the tripwire and the first incendiary device,” said Aurora Police Department spokeswoman Cassidee Carlson.
“This tripwire was set up to clearly detonate when somebody entered that apartment. It was set up to kill that person. That could have been a police officer executing a search warrant, or anything.
With that achieved, the bomb squad experts are reassessing their next step, she said. A police statement added that, given the number of devices inside the apartment, they are not forecasting how long the operation will take.
Holmes, a graduate student who authorities said had his hair dyed red and called himself “the Joker” in a reference to Batman’s comic-book nemesis, was due to make an initial court appearance on Monday.
Police declined to say what, if anything, Holmes said to them following his arrest. During an emotional press conference on Friday, Oates would not comment on possible motives for the massacre that stunned the community and the nation.
Meanwhile, the University of Colorado Hospital, which treated 23 victims of the shooting, said 10 people had been released and five remained in critical condition.
A memorial of flowers and candles has been set up at the Aurora shopping mall where the shooting rampage took place. A handwritten sign read: “7/20 gone not forgotten.”
President Barack Obama called the shootings a reminder that life is fragile and promised that the federal government stood ready to do all it could to seek justice for the ‘heinous crime’.
“Even as we come to learn how this happened and who’s responsible, we may never understand what leads anyone to terrorize their fellow human beings,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address, which was broadcast on Saturday.
Witnesses at the movie theater told of a horrific scene, with dazed victims bleeding from bullet wounds, spitting up blood and crying for help. Among those taken to hospitals as a precaution was a baby boy just a few months old.
The portrait of Holmes that emerged in the hours following the shooting remained fuzzy, with only a speeding ticket on his record and nothing to suggest he was capable of an outburst of gun violence.
Holmes’ family issued a statement of sympathy for the victims, saying, “Our heart goes out” to their loved ones, while they also asked for privacy from the media while they “process this information.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2012.