James Holmes

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James Holmes
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Full Name: James Eagan Holmes
Alias: The Aurora Shooter
The Dark Knight Shooter
The Joker
Origin: San Diego, California, United States
Occupation: College student (formerly)
Skills: Knowledge of weapons, including guns, explosives, and tear gas
Hobby: Watching superhero movies
Goals: Get away with a mass shooting (failed)
Crimes: Mass murder
Type of Villain: Mass Murderer

I'm the Joker.
~ James Holmes

James Eagan Holmes (December 13th, 1987 - ) is the man who committed a mass shooting at the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colorado on July 20, 2012. He killed 12 people and severely injured 58 others at the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises. At the time, it was the deadliest mass shooting to take place in Colorado since the Columbine High School massacre (perpetrated by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold) in 1999.


Early life

Holmes was born on December 13, 1987, in San Diego, California. His father Robert Holmes is a mathematician and scientist with degrees from Stanford University, UCLA and UC Berkeley, and his mother Arlene Holmes is a registered nurse. He has a sister. Holmes was raised in Oak Hills, a community in Monterey County near Castroville, California, where he attended elementary school. He began to suffer from mental health issues in middle school and attempted suicide at age 11.

According to Holmes, during his childhood, he was frightened of what he called "Nail Ghosts" that would hammer on the walls at night. He would also see shadows and "flickers" at the corners of his eyes, which would fight each other with firearms and other weapons. Holmes saw social worker Margaret Roth once before she sent him to psychiatrist Lynne Fenton. Holmes was depressed and "obsessed with killing for over a decade".

Despite these issues, Holmes graduated from high school in 2006 and completed a bachelor's degree at University of California, Riverside in 2010. He decided to pursue a graduate degree at University of Colorado and moved to Aurora.

In the summer of 2008, Holmes worked as a counselor at a residential summer camp in Glendale, California, which served children aged 7–14. There, he was responsible for ten children and had no disciplinary problems.

In the fall of 2010, Holmes was employed at a pill and capsule-coating factory in San Diego County. One of his co-workers later said that Holmes was unsociable, and once acted strangely at a laboratory work station by staring at a blank wall and not verbally responding, only making a quick glance and smirking, when his co-worker asked if he was okay.

The shooting

On July 19, just hours before the shooting started, Holmes mailed a notebook to his psychiatrist. The notebook detailed his thoughts and plans during the weeks preceding the shooting. The notebook was found in an undelivered package in the Anschutz Medical Campus mail-room. Immediately prior to the shooting, Holmes reportedly called a crisis hotline for mental health with the hopes that someone would talk him out of committing the massacre at the last minute. However, the call was disconnected after nine seconds.

He first threw tear gas into the crowd of moviegoers and continued to open fire upon them. He was carrying three types of firearms with him: a Remington Model 870 shotgun, a Smith & Wesson semi-automatic rifle, and a .40 Glock 22 handgun. According to witnesses, he appeared to be wearing a costume, like other audience members who had dressed up for the screening. Some believed he was playing a prank, while others thought he was part of a special effects installation setup for the film's premiere or a publicity stunt by the studio or theater management.

In total, Holmes fired 76 shots: six from the shotgun, 65 from the semi-automatic rifle, and five from the .40-caliber handgun.

Arrest, trial, and aftermath

When arrested, he was wearing a full-body bullet proof vest, riot helmet, and gas mask. After being arrested, he warned the police he had rigged his room with booby-traps. Initially, he entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, which was accepted. He would not go to trial until April of 2015.

When he finally went to trial Holmes was found guilty of 24 counts of first degree murder, 116 counts of attempted first degree murder and one count of illegal possession of explosives. He was subsequently sentenced to twelve life imprisonment sentences without parole and a maximum 3,318 additional years on attempted murder and explosives possession convictions. He is currently incarcerated at USP Allenwood in Gregg Township, Union County, Pennsylvania.


  1. Jonathan Blunk - January 20, 1986 (26 years)
  2. Alexander J. Boik - September 20, 1993 (18 years)
  3. Jesse Childress - January 6, 1983 (29 years) '
  4. Gordon Cowden - November 17, 1960 (51 years)
  5. Jessica Ghawi - November 27, 1987 (24 years)
  6. John Larimer - February 16, 1985 (27 years)
  7. Matt McQuinn - March 16, 1985 (27 years)
  8. Micayla Medek - May 5, 1989 (23 years)
  9. Veronica Moser-Sullivan - December 23, 2005 (6 years)
  10. Alex Sullivan - July 20, 1985 (27 years)
  11. Alexander C. Teves - June 1, 1988 (24 years)
  12. Rebecca Wingo - October 10, 1979 (31 years)



  • In Colorado, a death penalty decision has to be one hundred percent agreement from the jurors. In James' case, only one juror voted against giving him the death penalty.
  • Holmes was a fan of superheroes, including Batman, and his apartment was even decorated with Batman paraphernalia. Dave Aragón, an actor from the MTV television series Pimp My Ride, stated that Holmes called him twice the month before the shooting took place. Aragón is the writer, director, and star of an upcoming film entitled The Suffocator of Sins, which depicts a vigilante who shoots criminals, and Aragón claimed that Holmes showed interest in his movie's trailer.
  • According to Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, Holmes chose the Century 16 theater for his attack because he liked movie theaters and the specific theater had doors that he could lock in order to increase the number of casualties, as well as being in an area where police response would take longer. He specifically chose to attack a midnight screening because he believed fewer children would be present, not wanting to kill them. Holmes allegedly considered other locations for a mass shooting, such as an airport, but ruled it out because an airport would have too much security. He also wrote his reasoning that an attack on an airport would be confused as an act of terrorism, saying, "Terrorism isn't the message. The message is, there is no message." In addition, he had been considering using explosives, chemical agents, or biological agents in his attack, but rejected the scenario as he thought he might "blow himself up". Holmes had also considered serial killing as an option, but later reasoned it was "too personal, too much evidence, easily caught, few kills.
  • The jury for Holmes' trial consisted of nineteen women and five men, two of whom had connections to the Columbine massacre.
  • During a presentation at a science camp he went to in 2006, he said he wanted to own a slurpee machine.