AURORA The Colorado shooting suspect planned the rampage that killed 12 midnight moviegoers with calculation and deliberation, police said Saturday, receiving deliveries for months that authorities believe armed him for battle and were used to rig his apartment with dozens of bombs.
Authorities on Saturday were still working to clear explosive materials from inside James Holmes suburban Denver apartment a day after police said he opened fire and set off gas canisters in a suburban theater minutes into the premiere of the Batman film The Dark Knight Rises,At least 70 people were wounded
His apartment was rigged with jars of liquids, explosives and chemicals that were booby trapped to kill whoever entered it, Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said, noting it would have likely been one of his officers.
You think were angry? We sure as hell are angry, Oates said.
Authorities wouldnt discuss a motive for one of the deadliest mass shootings in recent U.S. history, as makeshift memorials for the victims sprang up and relatives began to publicly mourn their loved ones. Holmes had recently withdrawn from a competitive graduate program in neuroscience; neighbors and former classmates in California have said he was a smart loner who said little.
But he had apparently prepared the attack at the Aurora theater well in advance, receiving multiple deliveries by mail for four months and buying thousands rounds of ammunition on the Internet, Oates said.
He had a high volume of deliveries to both his work and home address. We think this explains how he got his hands on the magazine, ammunition, he said, as well as the rigged explosives in his apartment.
What were seeing here is evidence of some calculation and deliberation, Oates said.
Federal authorities detonated one small explosive and disarmed others inside Holmes apartment after sending in a robot to take down a trip wire, FBI Special agent James Yacone said. Bomb technicians then neutralized what he called a hyperbolic mixture and an improvised explosive device containing an unknown substance. There also were multiple containers of accelerants, he said.
It was an extremely dangerous environment, Yacone said, saying anyone who walked in would have suffered significant injuries or been killed.
Holmes, 24, was in a county detention facility Saturday, held without bond on suspicion of multiple counts of first-degree murder. He was set for an initial hearing Monday and had been appointed a public defender, authorities said.
Oates said Holmes used a military-style semi-automatic rifle, a shotgun and a pistol to open fire on the unsuspecting theater-goers. He had bought the weapons at local gun stores within the last two months. He recently purchased 6,000 rounds of ammunition over the Internet, the chief said.
Holmes also bought an urban assault vest, two magazine holders and a knife for just more than $300 on July 2 from an online supplier of tactical gear for police and military personnel, said the company.
Chad Weinman, CEO of TacticalGear.com, said his company processes thousands of orders each day, and there was nothing unusual in the one that Holmes placed. While his company often receives orders from military units and law enforcement organizations, it is not out of the ordinary for individual police officers or soldiers to place orders, he said.
Everything Mr. Holmes purchased on July 2 is commercially available, Weinman said, adding he was appalled that the material was sold to Holmes before the shooting.
It wasnt known why the suspect chose a movie theater to stage the assault, or whether he intended some twisted, symbolic link to the films violent scenes.
The Batman movie, the last in the trilogy starring Christian Bale, opened worldwide Friday with midnight showings in the U.S. The plot has the villain Bane facing Bales Caped Crusader with a nuclear weapon that could destroy all of fictional Gotham.
After buying a ticket to the movie, Holmes went into the theater and propped open an exit door several minutes into the film, a federal law enforcement official said. The suspect then returned in protective gear and with high-powered weapons and opened fire, shooting scores of people and picking off victims who tried to flee, officials said.
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. It was the deadliest in Colorado since the 1999 attack at Columbine High School, where two students killed 12 classmates and a teacher and wounded 26 others before killing themselves.
After excelling at the University of California-Riverside, Holmes was in the process of withdrawing from a neuroscience Ph.D. program at the University of Colorado-Denver for unknown reasons.
First-year students must take a three-part exam at the end of the academic year to move on in the program, University spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery said Saturday. Montgomery did not know whether Holmes had taken the exam.
As part of the program, Holmes had been listed as making a presentation in May about Micro DNA Biomarkers in a class named Biological Basis of Psychiatric and Neurological Disorders.
Mary Muscari, a criminology professor at Regis University in Denver who studies mass killings, said she was not surprised Holmes was studying neuroscience and mental disorders.
It could be he was interested in that because he knows theres something different in him, said Muscari.
She said that several mass murderers are young men in late adolescent or early adulthood. Were talking about guys when theyre at that age when theyre testosterone charged, their brains start developing, and its also when schizophrenia kicks in.
Those who knew Holmes described him as a shy, intelligent person raised in California by parents who were active in their well-to-do suburban San Diego neighborhood. Holmes played soccer at Westview High School and ran cross-country before going to college.
Police said they would begin collecting the personal items left by panicked moviegoers in days and would move out of the theater by midweek. Shaken law enforcement officials urged residents to not stay home.
I just dont want the shameless and senseless act of one man to make this difficult for families to move on, Aurora Fire Chief Mike Garcia said. Go out. See a movie. Go out into your city. Dont be afraid.