Sunday 24 September 2017

Neuroscience student turned mass killer had no clear motive

Mark Hughes in New York

THE masked gunman suspected of murdering 12 innocent cinemagoers during a shooting rampage at a Batman screening in Colorado, who later told police he was the Joker, is a highly educated PhD neuroscience student.

James Eagan Holmes (24) is alleged to have walked into the cinema in Aurora, Colorado, during a midnight screening of 'The Dark Knight Rises' and opened fire on the audience, using four different weapons.

Dressed head to toe in black combat clothes and sporting dyed red hair and a red goatee, he then calmly left the cinema and told police that he was The Joker, a senior police officer revealed.

Recluse

Last night, as Holmes was in police custody, a picture was starting to emerge of him as a well-educated young man who had never previously been in trouble with the police, save for a single traffic infringement.

Raised in California by his parents Arlene and Robert, he moved from San Diego to Colorado after graduating from The University of California, Riverside, in 2010 with a degree in neuroscience.

In June last year he enrolled in a PhD course in neurosciences at the University of Colorado. But last month he began the process of withdrawing from the course.

Shortly before he dropped out, Holmes had taken a class on psychiatric disorders.

Fellow students described him as a recluse, and one said: "No one knew him; no one."

Even more recently, just a few weeks ago according to the building manager, he moved to apartment 10 on the third floor at 1690 Paris Street, Aurora. On a rent application he described himself as "quiet and easy going".

Unlike many previous massacres, where signs of a motive have been immediately apparent, Holmes appears to have gone "under the radar".

The authorities said that he was not on any watch list nor was he a member of any terrorist organisation and was not a member of the armed forces.

Holmes was remembered by neighbours in San Diego as a shy, well-mannered young man who was heavily involved in their local Presbyterian church. Police refused to speculate on a motive. Officers said they were confident that he acted alone.

Following the massacre, which witnesses say was conducted calmly, Holmes revealed that further carnage was planned. He told police that there were explosives inside his apartment. Officers discovered that the entire apartment had been booby-trapped with bombs ready to be detonated by trip wires.

After his arrest and initial willingness to speak, police had hoped Holmes would reveal his motivation, but he refused to speak any further, it was reported.

At his parents' home in San Diego, his mother, Arlene Holmes, told reporters she was unaware of the attacks until she woke up, but added: "You've got the right person," a comment that some interpreted to mean she was not surprised her son could be behind such brutal acts.

Yesterday Holmes's father was taken to Colorado while his mother stayed at home.

They released a statement which read: "Our hearts go out to those who were involved in this tragedy and to the family and friends also involved."

They said they were co-operating with authorities. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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