ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — Aurora police detectives testified Tuesday afternoon about James Holmes’ bizarre behavior during their first interrogation of him following the massacre that left 12 dead and 58 others shot at the Century 16 theaters.
Detective Craig Appel took the stand at the suspect’s preliminary hearing and detailed how Holmes moved his hands like they were talking puppets, how he played with a Styrofoam cup and repeatedly flipped it over and how he found a staple on the table and tried to push it into an electrical outlet.
In a 10-minute span shortly after midnight on July 20, dispatchers said they received 41 emergency calls from a movie theater in Aurora. Unfortunately, most of those calls were drowned out by gunfire.
Details from those 911 calls began the morning portion of the second day of the preliminary hearing for suspected Aurora theater shooter James Holmes.
Like Monday, which saw several Aurora police officers provide tear-ridden testimony, Tuesday’s proceedings began with a bombardment of emotion, as the victims who made those phone calls listened silently and often times appeared overwhelmed.
That emotion soon gave way to technical jargon, with an FBI bomb technician describing the elaborate series of booby traps found at Holmes’ apartment. Before the morning session broke for lunch, representatives from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and the Aurora Police Department took the stand to describe the weapons Holmes acquired before the attack along with his mental state.
The preliminary hearing for Holmes is expected to last the entire week, as all of the 166 counts are recounted. After it concludes, Arapahoe County District Judge William Sylvester will determine whether there is enough evidence for Holmes to stand trial.
Perhaps the toughest moment for victims to relive Tuesday morning was a call that came from Kaylin Bailey, the 14-year-old cousin of Veronica Moser-Sullivan and Ashley Moser. Dispatchers were attempting to give the teenager instructions on how to give her two relatives CPR.
“It’s too loud … I can’t hear you,” Ashley was heard saying through sobs on the tape. “I’m so sorry.”
Veronica would eventually die, becoming the youngest of the 12 who lost their lives in the massacre. Ashley suffered paralysis as one of the 58 others wounded during the attack.
The first emergency call 911 dispatchers received came from Kevin Quinonez. It was received at approximately 12:38, just 18 minutes after the film “The Dark Knight Rises” began at the Century 16 cinema in theater 9.
Quinonez’s call lasted 27 seconds, and Aurora Det. Randy Hansen said he counted 30 loud booms that he believed to be gunshots during the call.
“There’s some guy … after us,” Quinonez could barely be heard saying as the gunfire rang out in the background.
Detectives later in the day said three of the 58 people injured were inside Theater 8. They got hurt when bullet went through the wall of Theater 9.
After the 911 calls were played, the court heard testimony from FBI bomb technician Garrett Gumbinner about the booby traps that had been set at Holmes’ apartment. Soon after police discovered the explosives, they questioned Holmes. Gumbinner testified that Holmes told police he had set the traps to draw resources away from the theater during the attack.
Gumbinner said the booby traps in Holmes’ apartment could have been detonated in one of three different ways. If detonated, the bomb technician said there were enough sophisticated napalm- and thermite-based explosives inside the gas- and oil-soaked apartment to level a city block.
The first way to detonate the explosives was opening the door to Holmes’ apartment. Gumbinner said that method was being encouraged by the playing of loud music inside the apartment. That music was blaring from a computer inside the apartment that had been set on time delay, according Gumbinner.
Though Kaitlyn Fonzi, a 20-year-old grad student and resident in the apartment, said she went up to the Holmes’ door and nearly opened it, she decided against it.
The second way to detonate the booby traps was a remote control to a toy car that had been placed inside a nearby dumpster. Gumbinner said Holmes was hoping to draw someone to the area with music echoing from a CD player that had also been placed inside the dumpster.
If someone had removed the toy car and attempted to operate it using the remote control, it would have triggered a “pyrotechnic firing box” placed on Holmes’ refrigerator which would have then set off rest of the explosives inside the apartment, according to Gumbinner.
The third way to detonate the booby traps was some type of remote launch control, though the Gumbinner did not go into great detail about that potential detonation method.
ATF agent Steven Beggs took the stand after Gumbinner, and explained that Holmes acquired two glock handguns, one shotgun and an AR-15 assault rifle along with 6,295 rounds of ammunition between May 10 and July.
Beggs said that Holmes made rough 16 purchases both in person and over the internet.
Holmes went through the appropriate background checks to acquire all of those items, according to Beggs.
Aurora police officer Tom Weldon also testified about Holmes’ use of two dating websites, Match.com and AdultFriendFinder.com. Weldon said Holmes’ profile on each site had photos of him with dyed red hair, and on the latter site he had written this question: “Will you visit me in prison?”