Colo. shooting suspect: Brief romance, few friends

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 6, 2012 at 4:39 am •  Published: December 6, 2012
Advertisement
;

DENVER (AP) — It didn't take long for suspicions to surface at a Colorado university that the man who just hours earlier shot up a midnight movie was a student who recently resigned from a school program.

The name of James Holmes began to circulate in news reports a few hours after the early-morning shooting July 22 at an Aurora movie theater that killed 12 people and wounded 58.

At 6:47 a.m., Angie Ribera, director of the neuroscience program, noted that the shooter could be the 24-year-old of the same name who had just withdrawn from her department.

"Do you think we should meet with students in his class?" she asked colleagues. "If they had been close to him, this would definitely be something that I think we should do. But as they were not, I do not know."

The new insight into the school's reaction came Wednesday with the release of thousands of emails, but they shed little light on the year that suspected theater shooter Holmes spent as a graduate student there.

The University of Colorado, Denver released the material in response to public records requests from media organizations, including the Associated Press. But it withheld more than 2,000 documents on Holmes, citing federal privacy laws on student medical and academic issues.

What remained revealed more about the school's reaction to the July 20 shooting than about Holmes.

Holmes had withdrawn from a competitive neuroscience graduate program in June after failing a key exam.

Denver's KMGH-TV reported Wednesday reported that a university psychiatrist, Dr. Lynne Fenton, reached out to campus police in June partly because Holmes talked about killing "a lot of people." It said she opted not to place him under a psychiatric hold because he was leaving the school. A university spokeswoman said she could not comment on the report.

Holmes' attorneys have said he suffers from mental illness.

Despite the avalanche of material on Wednesday, the school has not been able to answer key questions about Holmes and whether there were any signs he might do something violent. That's because, administrators say, a gag order in the case and the federal privacy laws prohibit them from disclosing much information.

As it became clear that James Holmes was the former student, faculty at the school passed on more tidbits of information they knew about him.

While the neuroscience program is very intimate — there are only six students admitted annually — Holmes had no apparent friends in the department, Ribera wrote in an email. She said he had "1-2 friends" elsewhere.

Continue reading this story on the...