School faces new questions in Colorado massacre

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 5, 2013 at 5:34 pm •  Published: April 5, 2013
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CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — New questions confronted the University of Colorado, Denver on Friday amid disclosures that a psychiatrist who treated theater shooting suspect James Holmes had warned campus police a month before the deadly assault that Holmes was dangerous and had homicidal thoughts.

Court documents made public Thursday revealed Dr. Lynne Fenton also told a campus police officer in June that the shooting suspect had threatened and intimidated her.

Fenton's blunt warning came more than a month before the July 20 attack at a movie theater that killed 12 and injured 70. Holmes had been a student in the university's Ph.D. neuroscience program but withdrew about six weeks before the shootings after failing a key examination.

Campus police officer Lynn Whitten told investigators after the shooting that Fenton had contacted her. Whitten said Fenton was following her legal requirement to report threats to authorities, according one of the documents, a search warrant affidavit.

"Dr. Fenton advised that through her contact with James Holmes she was reporting, per her requirement, his danger to the public due to homicidal statements he had made," the affidavit said.

Whitten added that Fenton said she began to receive threatening text messages from Holmes after he stopped seeing her for counseling, the documents said.

It was not clear if Fenton's concerns about Holmes reached other university officials. Whitten told investigators she deactivated Holmes' access card after hearing from Fenton, but the affidavit did not say what other action she took.

Neither Whitten nor Fenton immediately responded to telephone messages Friday.

The university released a statement Friday saying the documents supported its assertions in August that Holmes' access card was deactivated when he quit a doctoral program but that he was not banned from campus.

The statement did not address whether the university took any steps in response to Fenton's warning that he was a threat to the public.

It also didn't directly address the university police officer's statement that she deactivated Holmes' access card because of Fenton's concerns.

Ken McConnellogue, a spokesman for the University of Colorado System and its governing Board of Regents, said Friday the university stands by its statement that Holmes' card was canceled "as he withdrew from school."

"We can't comment on what was said in a police report," McConnellogue said.

Nicholus Palmer, an attorney for the widow of one of the people slain in the attack, said it's still unclear how much school officials knew about Holmes before the shootings.

"But from what's come out, there's clearly knowledge that this guy was dangerous," he said. Palmer's client is suing the university and Fenton.

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