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Detective: Holmes played puppets with paper bags

January 9, 2013
By DAN ELLIOTT , THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

CENTENNIAL, Colo. - It was just hours after a deadly Colorado theater shooting, and James Holmes was not acting like a man accused of methodically planning the attack and booby trapping his apartment.

As a police detective interviewed the suspect they'd picked up outside the theater, he started pretending the paper bags on his hands - meant to preserve gunshot residue - were puppets.

The former neuroscience graduate student tried to jam a staple into an electrical outlet. He played with a cup on the table. An officer noted that his eyes were dilated.

Article Photos

AP PHOTO
This courtroom sketch shows James Holmes being escorted by a deputy as he arrives at preliminary hearing in district court in Centennial, Colo., on Monday. Investigators say Holmes opened fire during the midnight showing of the latest Batman movie on July 20, killing 12 people and wounding dozens.

The description came Tuesday as prosecutors try to show that Holmes should face a trial for the July 20 attack. He faces more than 160 felony charges for allegedly killing 12 and injuring 70.

Defense attorneys say Holmes is mentally ill, and have used their questions to try to make that point. They haven't elaborated but have said they might call witnesses later in the week who could discuss Holmes' mental health.

The description of Holmes after the attack, given by police detective Craig Appel, seemed to undercut prosecutors' attempts to show Holmes as methodical, spending two months to assemble his arsenal.

The first recorded purchase: two tear gas grenades, ordered online May 10.

Holmes also bought two Glock handguns, a shotgun and an AR-15 rifle, along with 6,295 rounds of ammunition, targets, body armor and chemicals, prosecutors said.

He dyed his hair bright orange, then bought a scope and non-firing dummy bullets on July 1, the visit and the new hair color documented in security video.

Finally, he purchased glycerin and potassium permanganate - chemicals that could combine to create fire and sparks - from a Denver science store. At some point, he also improvised napalm, as well as thermite, a substance which burns so hot that water can't extinguish the blaze.

Holmes' purchases were split between two planned attacks, prosecutors said - the theater shooting and a booby trapped apartment that would've blown up if anyone had entered.

The bottle of glycerin was meant to fall into the permanganate when the door to his apartment opened, to cause an explosion and then a fire, prosecutors said.

The manager of The Science Company, Steve Grebe, confirmed the purchase, noting the amount was small and the materials are common in junior high experiments.

The setup in Holmes' apartment had deadly potential, though. Parts of Holmes' carpet were soaked with gasoline and oil and ammonium chloride, a white powder, was poured onto the floor in strips, FBI bomb technician Garrett Gumbinner said.

"It would have ignited and the whole apartment would have exploded or caught fire," Gumbinner said.

He said the system had two other initiating systems. One was a pyrotechnics firing box that would have been triggered by the remote control unit of a toy car left along with a boom box set to play loud music. Gumbinner said Holmes told him he hoped the music would lure someone and lead them to play with the car, thereby detonating the explosives.

The other initiating system was a model rocket launch box which operated by means of infrared light, but Holmes told investigators it wasn't armed, Gumbinner said.

 
 

 

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