Colorado ‘Dark Knight’ Shooting Update: First Degree Murder Charges Are Brought Out in Court
Last week we reported on the heartbreaking story coming out of Aurora, Colorado, where gunman assaulted moviegoers at a midnight opening for The Dark Knight Rises. A suspect, James Eagan Holmes, was taken into custody by police. At the end of the day, 12 people were dead and 59 others injured in this horrific attack. Later that afternoon, police struggled to diffuse a series of explosives that were booby-trapped inside Holmes’ apartment. Now, as the weekend has passed, more details about Holmes’ background are beginning to emerge.
The Nation Reacts
On Friday, the local townspeople began a vigil to pray, light candles, and sing songs in mourning to remember those killed and injured in the senseless attack. Several hundred joined the group in the Kaiser Permanente parking lot across the street from the theater. The mourners stayed until after sundown. More than 1,000 people gathered for a Friday evening memorial Mass at the Queen of Peace Roman Catholic church.
On Saturday, President Obama took to the airwaves for his weekly address, and vowed that justice would be done in the case:
“The federal government stands ready to do everything necessary to bring whoever is responsible for this heinous crime to justice. We will take every step possible to ensure the safety of all our people and we will stand by our neighbors in Colorado during this extraordinarily difficult time.”
On Sunday, President Obama visited the small town of Aurora, Colorado, to offer his condolences to the families of the victims. He told them that “all of American and much of the world is thinking about them.” He told reporters that he came not as the President, but as a father and husband.
The Police Investigation Continues
It was Saturday afternoon before Aurora police had announced the three explosive devices rigged in James Eagan Holmes’ apartment had been disarmed. Police Chief Daniel Oates said there was no doubt that the apartment was designed to kill whoever entered it first. Oates also indicated that the prosecution of Holmes would take place on the state level, not as a federal prosecution.
As the weekend went on, more details about the suspect emerged. It turns out that James Eagan Holmes had applied for membership at the Lead Valley Gun Range in Byers, Colorado, on June 25th. After the range owner, Glen Rotkovich, reviewed his application and called him back, he decided not to allow him membership. It wasn’t the paperwork, however, that got Holmes turned down – it was the voice recording on his voicemail. Rotkovich says the recording was “incoherent, just bizarre, really bizarre — slurring words, but he didn’t sound drunk, just strange — I could make out ‘James’ somewhere in it.” He then instructed the staff that if Holmes did show up on the range he should be contacted immediately, but Holmes never showed up.
It has also been revealed that Holmes was days away from being evicted from his apartment, according to his neighbors. According to other residents of the apartment complex, you must be enrolled in the university. If your status changes and you are no longer enrolled, you have 30 days to move out or face eviction. School officials have indicated Holmes dropped out sometime in June.
Last week, Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan issued a statement about the shooting massacre. Over the weekend cast members chimed in with their thoughts.
“Words cannot express the horror that I feel. I cannot begin to truly understand the pain and grief of the victims and their loved ones, but my heart goes out to them.” – Christian Bale
“My heart aches and breaks for the lives taken and altered by this unfathomably senseless act. I am at a loss for words how to express my sorrow. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.” – Anne Hathaway
Meanwhile, in a rare show of solidarity, the major Hollywood studios put their box office numbers on hold until Monday. Sony, Fox, Disney, Paramount, Universal, Lionsgate, and Warner Bros. all came together in forgo any reporting on the numbers over the weekend. Traditionally, all of the studios scramble over the weekend to tout their numbers and jockey for position as the box office leader. While it won’t be known until later today how this weekend’s movies fared, we do know that The Dark Knight Rises earned over $30 million from the Friday midnight screenings alone. In addition to cancelling its Paris premiere on Friday, Warner Bros. also cancelled appearances by the cast and crew of The Dark Knight Rises in Japan and Mexico, which was scheduled to take place today.
On Saturday night, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences held their official screening of The Dark Knight Rises at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre in Beverly Hills. The turnout was the largest so far this year, exceeding expectations so much so that the theater opened up and began seating people in the Academy’s adjacent Little Theater. Before the screening began, Academy President Tom Sherak made some opening remarks about the tragedy and then asked for a moment of silence in memory of the victims.
The Court Case Begins
Holmes appeared in court this morning, with his hair dyed orange and in a purple jumpsuit from the jail. During the entire proceeding, he appear to be out of it, closing his eyes and glancing at the ground, as if he was unable to pay attention to the judge.
The judge informed him of his rights and told the court that he would be facing charges of first degree murder. The law in Colorado states that prosecutors have up to 72 hours to file charges, but the prosecuting team requested an extension to process all of the evidence. The defense agreed. Formal charges are now scheduled for July 30th at 9:30 a.m.
We will continue to follow this case and bring you the latest information as it develops. We continue to hold the victims and their families in our thoughts and prayers and justice is done in this case. Feel free to leave your thoughts for the victims and their families in the comments below.
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