Federal bomb experts are planning to enter the massively booby-trapped apartment of Aurora theater shooting suspect James Holmes on Saturday. The move comes as family and friends mourn the loss of Holmes' 12 victims.
"Reality makes the pain and the grief too intense for words. But we can't let it keep us from our lives," Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said at a press conference Friday in Aurora, a suburban area about 10 miles from downtown Denver.
The shooting was "an act that defies description," he said. Holmes entered the crowded Century 16 theater complex shortly after midnight on Friday, opening fire on moviegoers who had waited for hours to see the new "Batman" release, "The Dark Knight Rises."
Dressed in a gas mask, helmet and bullet-proof vest, Holmes shot as many as 40 rounds at moviegoers, with some shells piercing the theater walls and injuring patrons in other rooms.
Police said 58 people were wounded, 10 people died at the scene and another 2 at the hospital. Hickenlooper added of the 30 victims left in the hospital, 11 are still in critical condition.
Starting Saturday, the names of some victims began to emerge. Although a full list of the deceased has not yet been released, families confirmed the deaths of Alex Sullivan, 27, who was celebrating his birthday as well as his first wedding anniversary this weekend, Micayla Medek, 23 and Jessica Ghawi, 24, a sports blogger who had recently survived another shooting at a mall in Toronto.
People gathered at multiple vigils around the Denver area yesterday and today to mark the tragedy with over 1,000 people alone gathering at the Queen of Peace Roman Catholic church for Friday mass.
Early Saturday, bomb experts from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were posted outside the apartment building of Holmes, 24, originally of San Diego, Calif.
Before the shooting, Holmes had booby-trapped his apartment with as many as 30 commercial-grade firework cannisters, bottles filled with fire accelerators and gunpowder containers.
ATF authorities, in concert with local Aurora police, are planning to disarm the booby-trapped one-room bedroom in three phases. First, a robot will trip the wires connecting various incendiary devices, then use a "bottle shot," or highly concentrated spray of water, to quash any resulting chemical fire.
Secondly, the 30 firework cannisters will be carefully removed and taken to a location outside of the city for a controlled detonation. Finally, they will remove explosives made from a mix of liquid accelerant, black powder and bullets to an outside location to be filled with explosive-deadening sand.
All of the surrounding apartment buildings and local businesses have been evacuated and fire trucks remain on call in case any of the incendiary devices trigger a fire.
James Eagan Holmes, who surrendered to police custody immediately after the shooting, is due in court on Monday and will be charged later in the week.
Holmes, a graduate neuroscience student in the process of dropping out of the University of Colorado, had recently dyed his hair bright red and told multiple people he was "the Joker," the most recent Batman nemesis depicted in the last movie by actor Heath Ledger.
Police have not yet released any information concerning Holmes' potential motive. At this time, the FBI has ruled out any link to terrorism and local news cited Aurora police as saying there is no indication Holmes was working with someone else.
by RTT Staff Writer
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