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Inside the Brutal Story of James Eagan Holmes

The story of2012 Aurora theater shooting

By Rare StoriesPublished 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 4 min read

It was a deadly night in Colorado on July 20, 2012, when 24-year-old James Eagan Holmes took his guns, and entered a Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, United States.

He carried out what became at the time the second deadliest mass shooting in United States history after the 1999 Columbine High School massacre.

Holmes acted alone, he had no helper, and he was well-prepared.

The beginning

James Eagan Holmes was born on December 13, 1987, in San Diego, California. He was born into a privileged home; his father was a scientist while his mother was a registered nurse. Before the tragedy that unfolded on July 20, 2012, Holmes had no history of criminal activities.

James Eagan Holmes years before the crime

Holmes grew up in Oak Hills, a neighborhood located near Castroville, California, in Monterey County. He attended elementary school there. When he turned twelve, Holmes relocated to San Diego and settled in the prosperous Rancho Peñasquitos neighborhood. It is said that his social interactions started to deteriorate during his time there.

Just a month before the deadly shooting, Holmes had dropped out of graduate school as a Ph.D. student in neuroscience at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora.

The Shooting

On the day of the shooting, Holmes had bought a ticket and secured a front seat in Theater 9 at the Century 16 multiplex (operated by Cinemark Theatres), located in the Town Center at Aurora shopping mall during a midnight screening of the movie The Dark Knight Rises.

James Eagan Holmes

Approximately 20 minutes into the screening of "The Dark Knight Rises," James Eagan Holmes exited Theater 9 through an emergency exit door located beside the movie screen. This particular exit provided direct access to a lightly used parking area situated at the back of the complex. To keep the door slightly open, Holmes used a plastic tablecloth holder.

10 minutes later, he renters the theatre dressed in tactical gear, with gas masks, bulletproof leggings, and other protective wear. Initially, some people thought he was wearing a costume, as other attendants had dressed up in costumes for the movie, while others believed he was playing a prank. They had no idea, he was the 'Dark Knight'.

He waited slightly before throwing a gas canister into the crowd. As the audience reacted to the smoke emanating from the canister, Holmes took his guns and started shooting into the crowd. He had entered the theatre through the same emergency exit, so people could not easily escape through that exit.

The gear James Eagan Holmes wore

He shot at the crowd with his guns. In total, he fired 76 times and left 12 people dead with 58 others injured. In total 82 people were considered victims.

The police were called and in less than two minutes they were at the scene. Some officers thought Holmes was one of them because of the way he was clothed. At about 12:45 a.m. he was apprehended close to his car.

Following his arrest, police discovered he was carrying a first aid box and spike strips in his car. He told the police that he had booby-trapped his apartment with homemade explosive devices. This revelation led to the evacuation of five buildings close to his residence in Aurora.

James Eagan Holmes' apartment

The explosive devices discovered attached to Holmes' apartment door were deactivated the following day. The police had to use a remote-controlled robot to enter the apartment to disarm the rest of the explosives. He had placed more than 30 homemade grenades connected to 110L of gasoline that was kept in the kitchen.

Holmes' trial began on April 27, 2015. He entered a plea of not guilty because of insanity. On August 26, 2015, he was sentenced to 12 consecutive life sentences, plus 3318 years without parole. He was spared the death penalty by one vote.

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  • Alex H Mittelman 2 months ago

    Wow I can’t believe it’s been so long. Tragedy!

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