Full coverage of the shootings at the midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colo.

FBI: Holmes' Booby Trap Included Improvised Napalm

Detective testified that Holmes acted strangely following arrest, played "puppets" with paper bags

By DAN ELLIOTT
|  Tuesday, Jan 8, 2013  |  Updated 3:47 PM PDT
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
Aurora, Colo., Cinema Rampage Remembered

AP

This photo released on Sept. 20, 2012 by the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office shows James Holmes.

advertisement
Photos and Videos
More Photos and Videos

Police found an elaborate system of booby traps, including improvised napalm, in the apartment of the alleged gunman in the Colorado theater shooting and said that the 25-year-old suspect acted bizarrely in an interview shortly after the attack.

FBI bomb technician Garrett Gumbinner and Det. Craig Appel, who responded to the July 20 shooting, testified Tuesday at a hearing in which prosecutors laid out their case against James Holmes.

For full U.S. news coverage, visit NBCNews.com.

Gumbinner said three different ignition systems were found in Holmes' apartment. There was a thermos full of glycerin leaning over a skillet full of another chemical. Flames and sparks are created when they mix, and a trip wire linked the thermos to the door.

Police said Holmes hoped loud music would lure someone to the apartment.

Appel, meanwhile, testified that Holmes, who had paper bags over his hands to preserve gunshot residue, played with the bags as if they were puppets. Appel said Holmes also played with a cup on the table and tried to jam a staple into an electrical outlet.

Defense attorney Daniel King asked whether Holmes had been tested for drugs or other substances. Appel said there was no indication that he was under the influence of anything.

Appel acknowledged that Holmes' pupils' were dilated, something that had also been noted by the officer who arrested him.

Prosecutors are trying to show in what is expected to be a weeklong hearing that the attack that killed 12 and wounded dozens July 20 was a premeditated act and that Holmes should stand trial.

Defense attorneys say he is mentally ill.

Daniel King, one of Holmes' lawyers, on Monday pointedly asked a pathologist who had just detailed each of the fatalities: "You're aware that people can be found not guilty on the grounds of insanity?"

When officers arrived at the theater, they found Holmes standing next to his car. At first, Officer Jason Oviatt said, he thought Holmes was a policeman because of how he was dressed but then realized he was just standing there and not rushing toward the theater.

Oviatt said Holmes seemed "very, very relaxed" and didn't seem to have "normal emotional reactions" to things. "He seemed very detached," he said.

After arresting Holmes, Officer Justin Grizzle asked him if anyone had been helping him or working with him. "He just looked at me and smiled ... like a smirk," Grizzle recalled.

So far, the trial has focused on the horror Aurora police officers discovered at the theater. The magnitude of the attack could be heard in the first 911 call to police, played Tuesday in court. It lasted 27 seconds and police say at least 30 shots could be heard.

The call came in 18 minutes into the showing of "The Dark Knight Rises".

Police also played a 911 call from a teenage cousin of 6-year-old Veronica Moser-Sullivan, the youngest person killed. A dispatcher tried to talk her through CPR but she sounded panicked and said she couldn't hear.

A bearded and disheveled Holmes stared straight ahead as the calls were played and didn't show any emotion.

Holmes also showed little emotion on Monday as police officers struggled to hold back tears during their testimony, reciting a litany of heartbreak: discovering a 6-year-old girl without a pulse, trying to keep a wounded man from jumping out of a moving police car to go back for his 7-year-old daughter, screaming at a gunshot victim not to die.

"After I saw what I saw in the theater — horrific — I didn't want anyone else to die," Grizzle said.

Holmes watched intently as one detective showed a surveillance video of him calmly entering the theater lobby, holding the door open for a couple behind him, and printing out tickets to the midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" that he purchased electronically nearly two weeks earlier. Authorities did not show a video of the attack but say Holmes, wearing body armor, tossed two gas canisters into the packed theater, then opened fire.

The hearing will be the best opportunity yet for survivors to find out about Holmes' mental state and the sequence of events that led up to the attack. It comes weeks after a shooting at a Newtown, Conn., school killed 20 children and six adults and increased scrutiny on the combustible mix of firearms and mental illness.

Holmes is charged with more than 160 counts, including murder and attempted murder. The hearing will allow the judge to determine whether the prosecution's case is strong enough to warrant a trial, but it's rare for a judge not to order a trial if a case gets this far.

Legal analysts say that evidence appears to be so strong that Holmes' attorneys may seek a plea agreement before trial.

While prosecutors have yet to decide on whether they will seek the death penalty, such a plea could get Holmes a lesser sentence, such as life in prison; help the state avoid a costly trial; and spare survivors and families of those who died from the trauma of going through a lengthy trial.

Get the latest headlines sent to your inbox!
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
Leave Comments
Bay Area Proud
Bay Area Proud is NBC Bay... Read more
Follow Us
Sign up to receive news and updates that matter to you.
Send Us Your Story Tips
Check Out