James Holmes called university 9 minutes before shooting, attorney says

Holmes sought help before shooting

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Story highlights

  • 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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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