bat­man mas­sacre

A mid­night pre­miere of the lat­est Bat­man film was an ex­tra­or­di­nary movie night for fans in Colorado – for all the wrong rea­sons

Real Crime - - Front Page - Words Robert Walsh

James Ea­gan Holmes was a no­body. A mal­ad­justed, so­cially in­ept loner, he’d suf­fered from psy­chi­atric and per­son­al­ity prob­lems for years. When he walked into Aurora, Colorado’s mid­night pre­miere of Bat­man: The Dark Knight Rises on 20 July 2012, some­thing inside Holmes had snapped. In his own mind he was a no­body, but was de­ter­mined to be­come a some­body. Holmes would mur­der 12 peo­ple, in­jure dozens and blight the lives of Aurora’s cit­i­zens. He would again reignite the USA’s gun con­trol de­bate, hav­ing taken full ad­van­tage of the gun culture to do it.

Holmes, al­ways mal­ad­justed, had de­te­ri­o­rated con­sid­er­ably in the months be­fore the Aurora mas­sacre. For­mer co- work­ers, fel­low stu­dents, psy­chi­a­trists and his few friends all no­ticed his de­cline, but lit­tle ac­tion was taken.

In­creas­ingly anti- so­cial, with­drawn and iso­lated, he had been at univer­sity but dropped out. His girl­friend had re­cently bro­ken off their re­la­tion­ship. In his own mind Holmes was des­tined to go nowhere, do noth­ing and be­come no­body. Hav­ing dropped out of col­lege, though, his money for tu­ition and liv­ing would be put to other, ter­ri­ble uses. In the months be­fore the mas­sacre Holmes spent thou­sands of dol­lars stock­pil­ing a se­lec­tion of guns and a huge amount of am­mu­ni­tion. All his weapons and am­mu­ni­tion were bought en­tirely legally. Hav­ing no crim­i­nal con­vic­tions, Holmes had no dif­fi­culty buy­ing two pis­tols, a pump- ac­tion shot­gun and a semi- au­to­matic ri­fle. Nor did he have any trou­ble get­ting tear gas grenades, bul­let­proof cloth­ing and a knife.

Holmes didn’t even have to buy his vast amount of am­mu­ni­tion in per­son. Most Amer­i­cans buy their guns in per­son, sub­ject to state and fed­eral re­stric­tions and back­ground checks, but there are no such re­stric­tions or checks on buy­ing or selling am­mu­ni­tion on­line. Apart from ar­mour- pierc­ing bul­lets ( which are avail­able only to law en­force­ment), Amer­i­cans can buy am­mu­ni­tion on­line in any quan­tity. CCTV footage later showed Holmes col­lect­ing a pack­age of as­sorted am­mu­ni­tion weigh­ing over 73 kilo­grams bought in bulk on­line.

Other than a de­sire to be no­to­ri­ous, Holmes had no rea­son for do­ing what he did. His need for recog­ni­tion could never be­gin to jus­tify his ac­tions. Holmes, in­creas­ingly de­pressed, dis­il­lu­sioned and des­per­ate, just didn’t care. His plan was sim­ple, its ex­e­cu­tion coldly pre­cise.

Hav­ing no crim­i­nal con­vic­tions, Holmes had no dif­fi­culty buy­ing two pis­tols, a pump- ac­tion shot­gun and a semi- au­to­matic ri­fle

above Po­lice and foren­sic ex­perts de­scended on the Cen­tury 16 cinema in their hun­dreds. They would still be gath­er­ing ev­i­dence weeks after the mas­sacre and Holmes’s in­ex­pli­ca­bly calm sur­ren­der

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