On Monday, James Holmes, the lead suspect in the Colorado shooting that killed 12 people, made his first public appearance in court, where the presiding judge gave prosecutors a week to formally charge him. His hair dyed a bright reddish-orange, Holmes appeared somewhat dazed, prompting speculationthat he was on medication. The eerie footage of Holmes’ court appearance gave few insights into the mind of the accused mass murderer, who allegedly showed up at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises in the Denver suburb Aurora heavily armed and in full body armor. But a slew of reports in recent days has helped observers piece together an emerging portrait of the 24-year-old. Here, 5 revelations:
1. He was a shy boy
James Eagan Holmes “was known as a very quiet young man, introverted but pleasant,” say Carol D. Leonnig and Joel Achenbach at The Washington Post. His father is a mathematician, his mother a nurse, and he grew up “in an upper middle-class community of picturesque hacienda-style homes surrounded by hills and canyons” in San Diego, Calif., say Susan Gembrowski, Marisol Bello, and Trevor Hughes at USA Today. Former high school classmates say he “liked to play cards, video games, and watch movies [with them as a teenager],” says Matt Stevens at The Los Angeles Times.
2. He was a brilliant student
Though awkward and shy, Holmes “once seemed bound for big things,” say Jack Healy and Serge F. Kovaleski at The New York Times. He won scholarships and internships as a high school science student, and graduated “at the top of the top” of his class at the University of California, Riverside. Holmes was one of six pre-thesis doctoral students to win a grant from the National Institutes of Health to study neuroscience at the University of Colorado, Denver. However, “by this spring, Holmes had begun to struggle with poor test scores,” say Leonnig and Achenbach. “He eventually decided to quit school,” and was in the process of withdrawing from the graduate program at the time of the shooting.
3. He registered with online dating sites
Holmes frequented online dating sites, including Match.com, where his profile states he “‘definitely’ wants kids, drinks ‘socially’ but never smokes, and considers his politics to be ‘middle of the road,'”says Beth Defalco at The New York Post. His profile also states: “The first thing people usually notice about me are my soul penetrating eyes. Whoa that’s deep.” On another site, AdultFriendFinder.com, a user thought to be Holmes says, “Am a nice guy. Well, as nice enough of a guy who does these sort of shenanigans.” Elsewhere in the profile, he says, “Will you visit me in prison?”
4. He allegedly prepared for the shooting for months
Exploiting a “virtual absence of any laws regulating ammunition sales,” Holmes amassed a “6,000-round arsenal legally and easily over the internet,” says Healy at The Times. Over the course of four months, “Holmes received more than 50 packages at his Aurora apartment and the University of Colorado medical school,” says Nicholas Riccardi at The Associated Press. He bought his first handgun, a Glock, on May 22 at a brick-and-mortar gun store in the Denver area. He bought a shotgun less than a week later, and an AR-15 rifle a week after that. On July 7, he bought another pistol. He allegedly emerged from an exit into the theater wearing a “ballistic helmet, gas mask, throat-protector, tactical vest, and pants,” says Riccardi, “such complete protective gear that responding officers almost mistook him for a member of the SWAT team.”
5. His apartment has a ‘mad scientist’ vibe
Holmes’ stereo reportedly began to blast loud techno music at midnight, when Holmes was allegedly at the theater, before automatically switching off suddenly at one o’clock. His apartment was rigged with “an intricate series of explosive booby traps, seemingly designed to kill anyone who entered while pursuing his trail,” say Healy and Kovaleski. According to NBC’s Chris Hansen, who viewed a police video of the apartment’s interior, the booby-trap equipment includes wires, a jug full of bullets, two black boxes with red blinking lights, and green soda bottles filled with fluid. Pierre Thomas at ABC News says Holmes “was really like a mad scientist, really like a villain in a movie.” In addition, police have reportedly found a Batman poster and a Batman mask in the apartment.