Families of theater shooting victims plan goodbyes
CENTENNIAL, Colorado (AP) — The families of those killed in the Colorado theater massacre planned their final goodbyes Tuesday, their anger stirred by the sight of suspect James Holmes in a courtroom with dyed orange hair and glassy eyes.
Tom Teves, the father of one of the 12 people Holmes is accusing of killing in Friday’s shooting rampage, called the suspect “a coward” for allegedly attacking defenseless victims. Another 58 people were wounded in one of the worst mass shootings in recent U.S. history.
Robert Blache watched video clips from Holmes’ silent, seemingly dazed court appearance with his injured daughter Christina, who was shot in both legs at the midnight premiere of the new Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises.”
“He doesn’t look surprised at any of it, but he seemed amazed at what was happening. I’m pretty sure he’s not sane,” Blache said.
After Holmes was led back to his solitary confinement cell, victims’ families were left to plan funerals for as early as Friday.
Holmes is being held on suspicion of first-degree murder, and he could face additional counts of aggravated assault and weapons violations. He won’t be formally charged until next Monday.
Police expect months of working with behavioral analysts and scrutinizing Holmes’ relationships to establish a motive. They have said Holmes isn’t cooperating.
Prosecutor Carol Chambers said her office is considering the death penalty, but that decision will be made in consultation with the victims’ families. Colorado has executed just one inmate since capital punishment was reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976.
An interview with a witness and a wounded theatergoer revealed that the gunman may have shouted at some of the victims before shooting them. Friends Stephanie Davies and Allie Young said the gunman moved around the theater, yelling and seemingly targeting people.
“He would shout, ‘What are you doing? I said stand up!’ And he would pick people up. I saw him stand over someone. I just see hair and him holding the shirt and boom,” said Davies, 21.
Young, 19, was shot in the neck. Davies said she applied pressure to the wound and also managed to make an emergency call.
“We were laying there in the mouth of hell — there’s smoke and explosions and guns, bats flying across the screen because the movie’s still playing. It’s dark. It’s every child’s worst nightmare,” Davies said.
At a news conference in San Diego, where Holmes’ family lives, their lawyer refused to answer questions about him.
When asked if they stood by Holmes, Lisa Damiani said, “Yes, they do. He’s their son.”
Weeks before the shootings, Holmes quit a Ph.D. program in neuroscience for reasons that aren’t clear. He earlier had taken an intense oral exam that marks the end of the first year, but University of Colorado Denver officials would not say if he passed, citing privacy concerns.
Batman star Christian Bale, meanwhile, visited victims of the shooting Tuesday. A Warner Bros. spokeswoman told The Denver Post that Bale represented himself, not the movie studio.
Carey Rottman, one of the 58 people injured in Friday’s shooting, posted two photos of himself with Bale on his Facebook page. Hospital staff also posted a Facebook photo of Bale with some staff members.
An online campaign urged Bale to visit the victims of the shooting.
Some of the survivors also have received hospital visits from President Barack Obama and members of the Denver Broncos football team.
A judge barred news cameras from Holmes’ next court appearance, but reporters can still attend the hearing slated for Monday, when prosecutors are expected to file formal charges against him.
One video camera and one still camera were allowed for Holmes’ initial court appearance this past Monday, capturing images of a dazed-looking suspect with dyed red hair.
A judge denied the request Tuesday after weighing issues including whether such coverage would interfere with having a fair trial.
NICHOLAS RICCARDI and P. SOLOMON BANDA
Associated Press writers Kristen Wyatt and Thomas Peipert in Aurora; Dan Elliott and Colleen Slevin in Denver and Alex Katz in New York contributed to this report.
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