Full coverage of the shootings at the midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colo.

"Dark Knight" Massacre Suspect Hauled Before Judge

Silent, expressionless suspect James Holmes stands before the nation accused of killing 12 and wounding 58 at “Dark Knight” premiere

By DANIEL MACHT
|  Monday, Jul 23, 2012  |  Updated 7:05 PM EDT
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Suspected theater gunman James Holmes, 24, makes his first court appearance.

Suspected theater gunman James Holmes, 24, makes his first court appearance.

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James Holmes Wore Battle Gear: Cops

The suspect in the Colorado movie theater shooting, a graduate of Westview High School in San Diego, was dressed all in black and wore tactical battle gear. Aurora, Colo., Police Chief Dan Oates updates the public about 11 hours after the deadly rampage.
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The nation got its first look at “The Dark Knight” massacre suspect — but not a word — when he was hauled before a judge in a Colorado courtroom today.

James Holmes slumped in a jury box chair next to his attorney Tamara Brady, silent and his unshaven face expressionless. His hair was still dyed orange and red for the advisement hearing. He was wearing a maroon jailhouse jumpsuit and rarely made eye contact with anyone. He alternated between looking straight ahead with a fixed gaze and downward, his eyes drooping. 

One of those in the Aurora courtroom was the father of shooting victim Alex Teves, who sat in the front row with his eyes locked on the 24-year-old former doctoral student accused of gunning down 12 people and wounding 58 others at the packed midnight Friday premiere of the "The Dark Knight Rises." In all, 25 victims remained hospitalized Monday morning, with 9 people in critical condition, NBC News reported.

Holmes' hearing lasted no more than 12 minutes before he was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs. He is being held without bond and will likely be formally charged at his next hearing on Monday, July 30. It could take a year before he stands trial, District Attorney Carol Chambers said outside the courtroom. 

The suspect had dyed his hair orange and red before the massacre then told police he was the Joker, one of the supervillains from the Batman saga, according to authorities.

Asked about Holmes' subdued demeanor, Chambers said she did not know if he was on any medication.

Chambers said Holmes could face the death penalty over the movie massacre, but her decision would be made in consultation with victims' families and could take months.

Holmes is being held in solitary confinement at a detention facility about 13 miles from Aurora's Century 16 theaters, site of the killings, and is refusing to cooperate, authorities said.

Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said Holmes has "lawyered up" since his arrest in the parking lot outside the Century 16 just after the rampage.

Lisa J. Damiani, an attorney representing the family of the accused killer, told the media Monday that the family was doing "as well as they can under the circumstances," and were receiving a lot of support from their church.

Asked if the family stands by James Holmes, Damiani responded, "Yes they do, he's their son."

She explained that Holmes' mother, Arlene Holmes, first heard of the shooting when a reporter called and woke her up at 5:45 a.m. on Friday.

"The family wants to reiterate that their hearts go out to all the victims" and their families, Damiani said.

She refused to provide information about the family's whereabouts, citing concerns for their safety, and declined to discuss the family's relationship with James Holmes.

Holmes allegedly set off gas canisters in the early minutes of the new Batman film, then sprayed the room with bullets while dressed all in black and outfitted in body armor and a gas mask. Witnesses said that at first they mistook the gunman for a planned part of the show — but then “mass chaos” broke out. Amid the terror, there emerged stories of heroism: theatergoers who sacrificed themselves to protect their loved ones.

The gunman's semiautomatic assault rifle jammed during the attack, forcing him to switch to another gun with less firepower, a federal law enforcement official told The Associated Press. That malfunction and weapons switch might have saved some lives.

Holmes was arrested outside the theater with four guns. Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said a 100-round ammunition drum was found in the theater but said he did not know whether it jammed or emptied. But the destructive rampage authoritieds said Holmes intended wasn’t over — his nearby apartment was booby trapped with bombs and chemicals. Authorities removed the explosives from the suburban Denver home Saturday during a painstaking operation.

For more coverage of the Colorado theater massacre, visit NBCNews.com.

Investigators found a Batman mask inside Holmes' apartment after they finished clearing the home of booby traps and ammunition, a law enforcement official close to the investigation said Sunday on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the news media.

As authorities examined other possible clues from the apartment, Sunday was a day for healing and remembrance in Aurora, with the community holding a prayer vigil and with President Barack Obama arriving to visit with families of the victims.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper noted that he "refused" to say Holmes' name, NBC News reported.

"In my house we're just going to call him Suspect A," he said.

Holmes' appearance in court comes as new details have emerged about the suspect and the arsenal he is said to have amassed.

Officials at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus were looking into whether Holmes used his position in a graduate program to collect hazardous materials, but school officials weren't saying whether they knew he was anything more than a hard-working student.

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Police have said that Holmes began buying guns at Denver-area stores nearly two months before Friday's shooting and that he received at least 50 packages in four months at his home and at school.

While the university disclosed that it was cooperating with police in the case, that disclosure was one of the few it has made three days after the massacre. It remained unclear whether Holmes' professors and other students at his 35-student Ph.D. program noticed anything unusual about his behavior.

His reasons for quitting the program in June, just a year into the five- to seven-year program, also remained a mystery.

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For more coverage of the Colorado theater massacre visit NBCNews.com.

Meanwhile, the owner of a gun range told the AP that Holmes applied to join the club last month but never became a member because of his behavior and a "bizarre" message on his voice mail.

He emailed an application to join the Lead Valley Range in Byers on June 25 in which he said he was not a user of illegal drugs or a convicted felon, said owner Glenn Rotkovich. When Rotkovich called to invite him to a mandatory orientation the following week, he said he heard a message on Holmes' voice mail that was "bizarre — guttural, freakish at best."

He left two other messages but eventually told his staff to watch out for Holmes at the July 1 orientation and not to accept him into the club, Rotkovich said.

 

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The shooting was the worst in the U.S. since the Nov. 5, 2009, attack at Fort Hood, Texas. An Army psychiatrist was charged with killing 13 soldiers and civilians and wounding more than two dozen others.

Across the street from the movie theater, Greg Zanis, of Aurora, Ill., who placed 15 crosses near Columbine High School after a 1999 massacre there, returned to Colorado with 12 crosses for the victims of Friday's shooting.

For more coverage of the Colorado theater massacre visit NBCNews.com.


 

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