The Aurora police department was carrying final preparations this morning to enter the apartment of a suspect that killed several people and injured many others at the midnight premiere of an action movie on Friday.
The alleged gunman, 24-year-old James Holmes, was a medicine student at the University of Colorado in Denver. Holmes, who is originally from San Diego and still has close family there, lived in the north part of Aurora about five miles from the movie theater where the shootings took place. The suspect had no previous police record, aside from a speeding ticket in October of 2011.
Law enforcement agents tried to search his apartment on Friday but quickly learned it was rigged with explosives and chemicals. Initially, police used a pole with an attached camera to look inside and spotted booby-traps and wires. A first attempt to disarm the traps inside the apartment was made on Friday, but technicians decided the property was still too dangerous to enter and withdrew the efforts.
Federal agents were expected to arrive today for a second attempt. All residents of the building and four other premises close-by have been evacuated, and local firefighters are monitoring the air for gas in an effort to identify what kind of chemicals might have been used in the traps.
Aurora police Chief Dan Oates said that the apartment had “things that look like mortar rounds.” The sheriff added “I’ve personally never seen anything like we’ve found in there.”
James Holmes was believed to be armed with an assault rifle, a shotgun and two pistols when he showed up at the Aurora cinema theater. The shooting spree took place during a midnight screening of the Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises. Holmes was arrested in the parking lot soon after police arrived on the scene.
At least 12 people have been confirmed dead in the aftermath of the crime, and thirty more remained at the hospital with eleven in critical condition. Deceased victims include children and there were reports of at least one toddler among the injured. Many of the lost have not been identified yet.
Law enforcement is trying to find clues that will yield more intelligence about the heinous act of violence. No terrorist link or any clear motive has been established thus far.
James Holmes is scheduled to appear at the Arapahoe County District Court in Centennial, Colorado, on Monday at 9:30 a.m. local time.