Police Describe Carnage at Aurora Theater Shooter’s Hearing

Posted January 7, 2013 in Criminal Law by

Accused gunman James Holmes sat through day one of a preliminary hearing that will determine if he will face a trial for the gruesome attack that left 12 dead and 58 wounded in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado last summer.

A judge saw video surveillance from the theater the night of the shootings and listened to several police officers testify as prosecutors made the case for bringing the accused mass murderer to trial.

Police Officer Jason Oviatt, who arrested Holmes after the rampage, described what happened when he found the suspect in the parking lot outside the theater, still decked out in body armor. “He was very relaxed,” Oviatt testified, according to the Denver Post. “It was like there weren’t normal emotional responses.”

The officer said that Holmes was “just standing there . . . Not doing anything. Not in any hurry. Not excited. Not urgent about anything.” Police found guns, knives and ammunition on Holmes, on top of his car and in the parking lot. He made no attempts to resist arrest, they said.

Other police officers testified on the carnage and panic in the theater. Officer Justin Grizzle said that he almost slipped and fell on the blood-slicked floor inside. Grizzle ended up making four trips to the hospital ferrying victims in his patrol car because ambulances had not yet arrived. By the end, there was so much blood in his car, he said, he could hear it sloshing around as he drove.

“I knew I needed to get them to the hospital now, ” he said at the hearing. “I didn’t want anyone else to die.”

Video footage showed Holmes initially entering the theater through the front entrance. He is believed to have purchased a ticket to the Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises,” then propped open an emergency exit while he went to his car to arm himself before returning to open fire on the crowd. He had dyed his hair orange and reportedly told authorities that he was the Joker.

The alleged gunman warned officers at the time of his arrest that his apartment was booby trapped with explosives.

Holmes’ defense team is expected to seek a plea deal with prosecutors, or to plead not guilty by reason of insanity should the case come to a trial. The defendant is facing 166 charges of murder and attempted murder.

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