James Holmes Intended to Lure Officers From Shooting With Booby-Trapped Apartment

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Photo: Pool/2012 Getty Images

In the second day of the preliminary hearing to determine if alleged gunman James Holmes will stand trial, prosecutors played several 911 calls from inside the Aurora, Colorado theater, including one in which at least 30 shots are heard in the background, and another in which a 13-year-old girl says her 6-year-old cousin, the shooting's youngest victim, had been hit. The recordings left some in the courtroom in tears, but once again Holmes showed no reaction. “He’s just sitting there. There’s no emotion,’’ said Chantel Blunk, whose husband, Jonathan, was killed in the shooting. “How can you just sit there?" Yesterday, officers testified that Holmes was bizarrely calm during his arrest, and today, defense lawyers, who are expected to pursue an insanity defense, highlighted Holmes's strange behavior when he was first taken into custody. Officers said that during his initial interrogation, Holmes tried to put a staple in an electrical outlet and pretended that bags put on his hands to preserve gunpowder residue were puppets.

Meanwhile, prosecutors tried to show that Holmes's action were premeditated. A detective said that several weeks before the shooting Holmes made profiles on the dating sites Match.com and AdultFriendFinder.com that asked the question, "Will you visit me in prison?" Authorities also described an elaborate booby trap involving fishing line, homemade thermite, and stove-top napalm mixed with bullets. "The whole apartment would have either exploded or caught fire," said FBI agent Garrett Gumbinner. A stereo was set to start playing loud music at midnight and the explosives would have been triggered when neighbors banged on the door, but when they heard the music they didn't bother to complain. Holmes told officers that he set the trap to draw police to his apartment instead of theater.

Holmes started stocking up on guns and ammunition about two months before the shooting, and an ATF agent said his three guns and 6,300 rounds of ammunition were all purchased legally. Highlighting Holmes's mental state once again, defense attorney Tamara Brady asked if there are any restrictions on buying body armor or tear gas in Colorado. "Is there any process in place in Colorado," she said, "to screen out whether a severely mentally ill person is purchasing these items?" The agent said there isn't.