Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Aurora, Colorado ~ The "Legal" Arsenal of Killer James Holmes


The Preliminary Hearing for the Aurora "Batman Movie" shooting last year is going on in Centennial, Colorado, and disturbing details are emerging.

According to the Denver Post, here's the list of incredibly dangerous items that James Holmes, the mentally ill shooter, bought in the months before the massacre:
  • four guns;
  • 6,295 rounds of rifle, shotgun, and handgun ammo
  • dozens of gun magazines
  • ballistic gear
  • weapon slings
  • two laser sights
  • two tear-gas canisters
  • hundreds of practice targets
  • explosive chemicals
  • fireworks supplies
  • handcuffs
  • a military first-aid dressing
ATF agent Steven Beggs said the purchases — all from online retailers or the Gander Mountain and Bass Pro Shops sporting goods stores in the metro area — began May 10 and ended July 14. There were five purchases in the first week of July alone.

Did you catch that ~ almost 7,000 rounds of ammunition, and no one even blinked when he bought it. Tear Gas? No problem. Explosive Chemicals? Just some good clean fun for a young white man in Colorado.

Defense attorneys made it clear that all of that stuff was acquired legally under Colorado Law, and that there is no screening process for mental illness no matter how dangerous the purchase:
After prosecutors finished questioning Beggs, defense attorney Tamara Brady asked him whether it was illegal, for instance, to buy body armor or tear gas.
Beggs said it wasn't in Colorado.
"Is there any process in place in Colorado," Brady persisted, "to screen out whether a severely mentally ill person is purchasing these items?"
Beggs said no.

Also, police didn't test Holmes for drugs or alcohol, even though he was acting strangely and his pupils were dilated:
In afternoon testimony, Aurora homicide Detective Craig Appel testified that police did not request a blood sample from Holmes after he was arrested. He said Holmes' pupils were wide, but that "I saw no indication that he was under the influence of anything."
But under defense questioning, he said Holmes' behavior was at times odd while he was under observation. Paper bags had been placed over his hands to preserve evidence and Holmes played with them as though they were puppets, Appel said. He also tried to place a staple into an electrical socket, he said.

Obviously by then the police were as in shock as everyone else from the horrific shooting, and maybe they figured he was crazy so why bother with a drug test? The Defense is trying to protect their client from as many charges as possible, and the age old way to do that is to prove that the police and the state laws are somehow lacking or negligent. All well and good for Holmes, but what the testimony really does is damn him for playing the flawed system so well.

He knew that no matter how many weapons or scary substances he bought, alarm bells wouldn't go off in the stores where he bought supplies. No one could legally ask about his mental history even if his eyes were rolling around in his head and he showed schizophrenic tendencies. He knew the state laws allowed him to buy as much ammunition as his heart desired in order to carry out his vicious plot.

And on top of that, Holmes booby-trapped his apartment in a diabolical way that he hoped would cause a fire at the same time as the shooting, drawing away police resources so he could shoot up the movie theater. This is really over the top. If police hadn't realized the apartment was rigged, how many more lives would have been lost?


From NBC News:
There was a trip-wire leading from the door to a thermos filled with glycerine that was perched over a frying pan filled with potassium permanganate, Gumbinner said.
. . . On top of the fridge was a remote-controlled “pyrotechnic” box filled with 6-inch fireworks shells. Holmes left the remote for it outside, in a trash bag with a toy car and a boom box on a timer, the agent said.
His fantasy was that someone on the street would hear the music, open the bag, decide to play with the car, fiddle with the remote and detonate the explosives, Gumbinner said.
. . . "He said he rigged his apartment to explode or catch fire in order to divert police resources to his apartment,” Gumbinner said, recounting an interview with Holmes.
No one played with the toy car or banged on the door, though. And when Holmes was arrested outside the Century 16 multiplex – after allegedly killing a dozen people and wounding 58 – he quickly told police about his traps.

We may never know why Holmes wanted to hurt so many people in such a flamboyent and destructive way, and maybe there just is no answer. But something good can come of this if states like Colorado will begin to stand up to the NRA and create more hurdles. If government can't do it, then gun shops and sporting goods stores should realize they may be held accountable in the future if they don't support a screening process. Hey, if bartenders can be arrested for serving drinks that lead to deaths, then gun runners certainly can.

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