Police: Theater massacre suspect a San Diego native
SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A former college student accused of killing at least a dozen people and wounding 59 others in a shooting rampage at a Colorado movie theater early Friday graduated from a high school in Rancho Penasquitos, where his parents still live, authorities reported.
Around daybreak, San Diego police went to the two-story Sparren Avenue home of 24-year-old James Eagan Holmes' family as news crews began to assemble outside. Holmes is a 2006 graduate of Westview High School on Camino del Sur, the Poway Unified School District confirmed.
Holmes is in custody in Colorado, accused of going into a midnight showing of the new Batman film, “The Dark Knight Rises,” shortly after around 12:30 a.m., setting off some sort of smoke or gas bomb and opening fire on moviegoers.
The motive was unclear.
Reporters and camera crews began to gather outside the Rancho Penasquitos home after a news station phoned his mother early Friday and quoted her as confirming her relationship to the alleged shooter.
“The police will be here as long as we're needed to preserve the peace of the neighborhood,” SDPD public-affairs Lt. Andra Brown said.
In a statement, the Holmes family said their “hearts go out” to the victims of the shooting and their loved ones. They asked the public to respect their privacy and that of their neighbors.
“As you can understand, the Holmes family is very upset by this — it's a tragic event,” Brown said, adding that the suspect's relatives were cooperating with authorities both in San Diego and Colorado.
The lieutenant said her department's personnel will be paying “extra attention” to goings-on around San Diego movie theaters in response to the Colorado tragedy.
“Our patrol officers are directed to conduct some extra patrols at movie theaters in their commands as time permits,” Brown said. She added, however, that much of the responsibility for security at the venues falls to the owners and operators.
The shooting spree took place in Aurora, nine miles outside Denver. Holmes was taken into police custody in the theater's parking lot shortly after the gunfire broke out, authorities said. He allegedly was in possession of an assault rifle, a shotgun and a pistol.
During the deadly rampage in the Century Aurora 16 movie theater, Holmes allegedly wore what appeared to be a bulletproof vest and riot helmet.
The theater is about five miles from Holmes' Aurora third-story apartment, which authorities found booby-trapped with trip wires apparently attached to some type of incendiary devices, Aurora Police chief Dan Oates told news crews.
Oates said investigators were “confident” that the suspected shooter acted alone.
San Diego police Chief William Lansdowne said SDPD officers went to the Homes family's house north of State Route 56 to provide security to the Holmes family and assist Aurora police by gathering information for that agency's investigation.
Shortly before 7:30 a.m., officers were spotted escorting a luggage- toting man out of the home and whisking him away in an unmarked police sedan. Brown identified him as the suspect's father. She declined to say where he was going, but television news stations reported that he was en route to Lindbergh Field to take a flight to Colorado.
It was not immediately clear if all showings of “The Dark Knight Rises” would continue as scheduled.
The Motion Picture Association of America issued a statement regarding the deadly violence.
“We share the shock and sadness of everyone in the motion-picture community at the news of this terrible event,” said former Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, the MPAA chairman and CEO. “We extend our prayers and deepest sympathies to the victims, their loved ones and all those affected by this tragedy.”