CNN Editorial Research
Here is a look at the July 20, 2012, movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado. Twelve people were killed and 70 injured. On July 16, 2015, James Holmes was found guilty on all 165 counts against him: 24 first-degree murder, 140 attempted murder and one count of possession or control of an explosive or incendiary device. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole and is currently incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Complex in Allenwood, Pennsylvania.
Jonathan T. Blunk, 26
Alexander J. Boik, 18
Air Force Staff Sgt Jesse E. Childress, 29
Gordon W. Cowden, 51
Jessica Ghawi, 24
Petty Officer 3rd Class John Thomas Larimer, 27
Matthew R. McQuinn, 27
Micayla C. Medek, 23
Veronica Moser-Sullivan, 6
Alex M. Sullivan, 27
Alexander C. Teves, 24
Rebecca Ann Wingo, 32
James E. Holmes
Birth date: December 13, 1987
Birth place: San Diego, California
Birth name: James Eagan Holmes
Father: Robert Holmes
Mother: Arlene Holmes
Education: University of California, Riverside, B.S. in neuroscience, 2010. University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, enrolled in 2011 as a doctoral candidate in its neuroscience program. Withdrew in June 2012.
Police say he bought the guns used in the incident legally at two sporting goods stores — Bass Pro Shops and Gander Mountain — and purchased more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition online.
July 7, 2012 – Holmes purchases a ticket for the July 19 midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” at the Century Aurora 16 Multiplex Theater in Aurora, Colorado.
July 19, 2012 – Holmes attends the midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” at the Century Aurora 16 Multiplex Theater in Aurora, Colorado. Holmes enters theater #9 but soon exits through a rear door on the right side of the screen, leading to a parking lot. He leaves the door propped open and returns through it, according to a law enforcement source involved in the investigation.
Holmes is “dressed head-to-toe in protective gear” — a ballistic helmet, protective gear for his legs, throat and groin, black gloves and a gas mask. He props open the door, before throwing two tear gas canisters into the theater. After both canisters explode, witnesses say he started shooting, first at the ceiling and then at the crowd. Police say he used an AR-15 rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and at least one of two .40-caliber handguns police recovered at the scene.
Twelve people are killed and 70 are wounded.
Holmes surrenders to police outside the theater within seven minutes of the first 911 calls, according to Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates.
Five buildings, including Holmes’ apartment building at 1690 Paris St., are evacuated after the suspect makes a statement to police about explosives in his unit. According to police, his apartment is booby trapped with a tripwire at the front door that would have touched off an array of explosives and flammable liquids.
July 21, 2012 – Investigators disarm all the makeshift bombs in Holmes’ apartment, using a “controlled detonation” to disable a second triggering device. The explosives removed include more than 30 homemade grenades and 10 gallons of gasoline.
July 23, 2012 – Holmes makes his first court appearance. He is ordered to be held without bond.
July 25, 2012 – Authorities discover an undelivered package at the Anshutz Medical Campus mailroom sent by Holmes. According to trial testimony, the package is addressed to his psychiatrist and contains a handwritten notebook which details plans for the attack, his obsession for killing, and has the question, “Why?” written several times in it.
August 1, 2012 – Denver station KMGH reports Holmes’ psychiatrist, Lynne Fenton of the University of Colorado, told colleagues in June that he could be potentially dangerous to others, but before any action could be taken Holmes began the process of dropping out of the university.
March 27, 2013 – According to court documents, Holmes offers to plead guilty and spend life in prison in exchange for avoiding the death penalty.
April 1, 2013 – The district attorney rejects Holmes’ offer, announcing that he will seek the death penalty.
May 13, 2013 – Holmes pleads not guilty by reason of insanity.
June 4, 2013 – A judge accepts Holmes’ plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. Holmes will be taken to the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo for evaluation and is expected to be returned to Arapahoe County Jail on August 2.
July 10, 2013 – Attorneys for Holmes file an objection to the judge’s ruling that their client must be restrained during the trial, by means of hidden harness anchored to the floor. In the filing, the attorneys concede that Holmes carried out the movie theater attack and say, “Mr. Holmes suffers from a severe mental illness and was in the throes of a psychotic episode when he committed the acts that resulted in the tragic loss of life and injuries sustained by movie goers on July 20, 2012.”
August 28, 2013 – Judge Carlos Samour rules that the victims of the shootings will be allowed to watch the trial proceedings despite the possibility they may be called as witnesses.
February 19, 2014 – Judge Samour orders Holmes to undergo an additional sanity examination, saying there was good cause to believe previous testing was “incomplete and inadequate,” according to a ruling.
December 19, 2014 – Holmes’ parents speak out for the first time in a written statement published by the Denver Post stating they believe the “death penalty is morally wrong, especially when the condemned is mentally ill.” They also believe that the attention should now be focused on the “injured and healing” and would like to avoid a “traumatic trial.”
January 20, 2015 – Jury selection begins. 9,000 potential jurors have been summoned.
April 14, 2015 – Twelve jurors and 12 alternates are selected. The group includes 19 women and five men. It’s almost entirely white and mostly middle-aged.
June 17, 2015 – For the fifth time in eight days, a juror is dismissed, with the judge saying the female juror was not forthcoming about having recognized a witness. Three jurors were dismissed earlier because they reportedly discussed media stories about the case, and one was sent home after she changed her story to the judge about how her brother-in-law was shot in an armed robbery.
June 19, 2015 – The prosecution rests its case, calling as its last witness a victim who survived the movie theater massacre but lost her pregnancy and her small daughter.
July 9, 2015 – Holmes tells the judge that he won’t testify.
July 10, 2015 – The defense rests its case.
July 16, 2015 – Holmes is found guilty on all 165 counts against him, making him eligible for the death penalty.
August 7, 2015 – Holmes is sentenced to life in prison without parole when the jury is unable to reach a unanimous sentencing verdict as to whether he would receive the death penalty or life in prison.
August 26, 2015 – A Colorado judge formally sentences Holmes to 12 life sentences, one life term for each person he killed, plus 3,318 years in prison for the attempted murders of those he wounded and for rigging his apartment with explosives. He is not eligible for parole.
December 4, 2015 – Holmes is ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $954,878.95.
May 19, 2016 – A not liable verdict is returned against Cinemark Cinemas in the theater shooting civil trial. The suit, filed by victims and family members of victims, alleged negligence on the part of the theater, saying it lacked adequate security.
September 27, 2017 – The Colorado Department of Corrections confirms that Holmes has been transferred to a federal prison. The next day he is listed at the Federal Correctional Complex in Allenwood, Pennsylvania. The location of his previous internment is not publicly available.
June 29, 2018 – Judge Samour unseals Holmes’ psychiatric examinations. The sanity reports (redacted) and notes from University of Colorado providers are released following petitions made by the Denver Post.
January 22, 2019 – Prosecutors release over 23 hours of video interviews between Holmes and Dr. William Reid, a court-appointed forensic psychiatrist.
September 23, 2019 – Ahead of the release of the R-rated “Joker” film, five family members and friends of victims of the shooting sign a letter to Warner Bros., calling on the studio to end political contributions to candidates who take money from the NRA and vote against gun reform, actively lobby for gun reform and make contributions to groups that support survivors and aim to reduce gun violence.
October 2019 – The FBI and Department of Homeland Security issue a Joint Intelligence Bulletin ahead of the opening weekend of the movie “Joker” after threats that referenced the Aurora shooting were posted online calling for mass shootings at showings of the movie.
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