Moments after a deadly attack that turned an Aurora, Colo., movie theater into a scene of panic and tragedy, the police officer who found suspect James Holmes at first took him for a fellow police officer, due to the body armor Holmes was wearing.
But he noticed that Holmes was "just standing there" and had no sense of urgency — despite the pandemonium at the theater, as people continued to stream out.
Holmes, who faces 12 charges of first-degree murder, was reportedly quiet and relaxed, "like there weren't normal emotional responses to anything," Oviatt said. "He seemed very detached from it all."
Holmes, 25, was in court Monday for the first of what is likely to be a week of hearings to determine whether prosecutors have enough evidence to try Holmes on 164 counts, with charges that range from murder and attempted murder to possessing explosives illegally.
The hearings are expected to give a sense both of the evidence against Holmes and of the strategies the defense and prosecution attorneys will employ. Oviatt and another officer who responded to the scene of the July 20 killings, Aaron Blue, testified Monday morning about what they found after responding to a call about a shooting during the just-released Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises.
Here's a brief rundown of other details that emerged today:
- Officer Aaron Blue "recalled arriving on the scene to find 'a lot of people coming out of the theater screaming,'" Reuters reports.
- Oviatt testified that he found Holmes at his car after tracing a trail of blood that led out of the movie theater, as The Denver Post reports.
- Holmes "was wearing a helmet and gas mask and 'immediately put his hands up' when ordered to freeze and surrender," — Reuters, quoting Oviatt.
- Holmes "was dripping with sweat and his pupils were very big," Oviatt said (via the Denver blog Westword).
- "Blue testified that Holmes volunteered that he had four guns and that there were 'improvised explosive devices'" in his apartment, ABC reports. Oviatt testified that when Blue asked if the explosives would detonate, Holmes answered, "If you trip them."
- In his testimony, Officer Justin Grizzle described how he drove six victims to the hospital, as he tried to keep them alive.
- "After what I saw in that theater, I didn't want anyone else to die," said Grizzle, according to The Denver Post.
- The paper adds that Grizzle "said that one man who was injured tried to jump out of the patrol car because he was so anxious to find his 7-year-old girl."
Last week, the Century Aurora 16 theater announced its plan to reopen, bringing calls of insensitivity from some of the family members of the victims. The theater had invited the families to attend the reopening.