Former University of Colorado student James Holmes was referred to a threat team at his school weeks before he killed 12 people in a deadly theater shooting, throwing new onus on the institution.
Holmes, 24, was seeing school psychiatrist Dr. Lynne Fenton in the week's leading up to the shooting. Fenton, alarmed by Holmes and worried about a possible violent streak, warned the school's Behavioral Evaluation and Threat Assessment (BETA) team, the Denver Post reported this week.
The team was set up by Fenton in 2010 to help pinpoint possible violent students and alert the school to them before an incident could take place.
Citing law enforcement sources, Fox News also reported that Holmes had sent a detailed plan of the shooting to Fenton's university office, but that the package sat in campus mail until the Monday after the attack.
It was unclear why the University of Colorado's Anschutz Medical Campus did not respond to Fenton's BETA team warnings but early reports last week said since Holmes dropped out in July, the school did not pursue the warning further because he was no longer a student.
A gag ordered issued by a local judge precludes the school from making a public statement on the case. This did not keep University Chancellor Don Elliman from defending the actions of his administrators.
"I believe, until it's been demonstrated otherwise, that our people did what they should have done," Elliman said Wednesday.
The news of Fenton's BETA team warning was originally reported by Denver's KMGH-TV 7News on Wednesday. The information came just days after Holmes was charged with 142 criminal counts, including 24 counts of first-degree murder (two for each victim killed).
Holmes was charged with an additional 116 counts of attempted murder, two for each of the victims injured in the shooting. He also faces one count of committing a crime of violence and one count of possession of an explosive device.
Holmes, who was enrolled in the school's neuroscience graduate program until he dropped out suddenly in July, surrendered quietly to police on the night of the shooting in a parking lot outside of the Century 16 theaters in Aurora, a suburb of Denver.
During the July 20 attack, the shooter entered the Aurora theater and fired multiple rounds at movie goers watching a midnight premier of the Batman franchise's "The Dark Knight Rises." When arrested, Holmes was sporting a bullet-proof vest, helmet and gas mask and bright red hair mimicking Batman villain "The Joker."
In the state of Colorado, one first-degree murder charge results in a minimum sentence of life in prison. But in this case, the defendant will most likely face the death penalty.
by RTT Staff Writer
For comments and feedback: email@example.com