Skip to main content

James Holmes called university 9 minutes before shooting, attorney says

From Ted Rowlands and Jim Spellman, CNN
updated 5:58 AM EDT, Fri August 31, 2012
  • NEW: Holmes called a university switchboard nine minutes before he allegedly opened fire
  • Holmes, 24, is accused of killing 12 people in a theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, last month
  • He is charged with murder and attempted murder and faces two weapons charges

Read more in Spanish.

(CNN) -- James Holmes called a University of Colorado switchboard nine minutes before he allegedly opened fire at a movie theater in a Denver suburb on July 20, public defender Tamara Brady said in court Thursday.

The number can be used to get in contact with faculty members during off hours, she said.

Holmes, 24, is accused of opening fire during a midnight premiere of the latest Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises," killing 12 people and injuring 58 others. He has been charged with murder and attempted murder and faces two weapons charges.

On Thursday, Holmes appeared before a packed court hearing, which included survivors of the shooting.

Dr. Lynne Fenton, his psychiatrist, testified that her contact with Holmes ended on June 11, and that she later contacted campus police because she was "so concerned" about what happened during that last meeting, though she declined to elaborate.

Colorado shooting victims' families criticize relief charity

Families say fight isn't over money

Officials said Holmes mailed a notebook to her before the shooting, though it's not clear whether its contents will be considered admissible in court.

Fenton testified that Holmes' defense team contacted her after the shooting and asked that she send the notebook back to Holmes via them.

In 2011, the University of Iowa rejected Holmes' graduate application, with one official saying "Do NOT offer admissions under any circumstances," according to documents obtained by CNN.

A second university official agreed not to make the recommendation for Holmes' admittance.

The suspected gunman was a doctoral candidate studying neuroscience at the University of Colorado's Anschutz campus in Aurora. But he was "denied access to the school after June 12, 2012, after he made threats to a professor," according to court documents.

Subsequently, Holmes "started the process to voluntarily withdraw from his graduate studies program."

The University of Colorado said this month that it hired a former U.S. attorney to conduct an independent review into how the school handled Holmes.

Holmes said earlier that he wanted to study "the primary source of all things, our own minds," according to a personal statement he submitted as part of a graduate studies application at the University of Illinois.

The application included the statement, professional references and test scores.

Prosecutors: Theater shooting suspect told classmate he wanted to kill people

The documents were released by the university, where Holmes applied to the neuroscience department before later opting to attend the University of Colorado.

While the documents do little to answer questions about the suspect's possible motive, they offer insight into Holmes as a student and his aspirations to study the human brain.

In the statement, Holmes wrote that he has long been "fascinated by the complexities of long lost thought seemingly arising out of nowhere into stream of awareness."

"These fascinations likely stemmed from my interest in puzzles and paradoxes as an adolescent and continued through my curiosity in academic research," he wrote in the statement, submitted in early 2011.

He titled his resume "aspiring scientist."

Holmes was described as taking "an active role in his education, and brings a great amount of intellectual and emotional maturity into the classroom," according to a letter of reference that appeared to be from one of his former professors.

Shackled Holmes in court

CNN's Chelsea J. Carter and Michael Cary contributed to this report

Part of complete coverage on
Meet the victims involved in the Colorado theater massacre through shared photos and read the memories kept alive by their loved ones.
updated 9:59 AM EDT, Thu March 28, 2013
Colorado shooting suspect has offered to plead guilty and spend the rest of his life behind bars in exchange for avoiding the death penalty.
updated 10:36 AM EDT, Fri March 22, 2013
Back in the 1950s, Hollywood fell in love with the idea of truth serum. But it doesn't work the way the movies have made it seem.
updated 9:59 PM EST, Fri March 1, 2013
Lawyers for James Holmes, the Aurora, Colorado, mass shooting suspect, took aim against the state's insanity defense laws in court documents made public Friday.
updated 7:18 AM EST, Tue January 8, 2013
So much blood the theater floor had become slippery. Bodies with horrific injuries. The eerie sound of cell phones ringing, over and over again.
updated 11:34 AM EST, Thu January 3, 2013
Relatives of nine people killed said an invitation to attend an event on the eve of the remodeled complex's reopening is "disgusting."
updated 11:30 AM EDT, Tue July 31, 2012
Colorado movie shooting suspect James Holmes was charged Monday with 24 counts of first-degree murder -- two counts for each of the 12 people killed in the shooting.
updated 6:06 PM EDT, Wed July 25, 2012
From the silver lining of welcoming a newborn into the world on Tuesday to promising to live life to the fullest, survivors are looking forward.
updated 10:46 AM EDT, Sun July 22, 2012
James E. Holmes is described by those who know him as a quiet, clean-cut doctoral student.
updated 10:35 AM EDT, Fri July 20, 2012
A heavily armed gunman opened fire at a movie theater on July 20, killing at least 12 and wounding 38. Here are some of the worst U.S. mass shootings since World War II.
updated 2:59 PM EDT, Wed July 25, 2012
Photos of the scene in Aurora after the shooting took place.
updated 9:59 PM EDT, Fri July 20, 2012
A heavily armed gunman sprayed the audience with gunfire during an early morning screening of the new Batman movie, killing 12 and wounding 38 others, authorities said.
Are you a friend or family member of one of the victims? Share your tributes here.