Accused Colorado gunman sent notebook to psychiatrist
AURORA, Colo. (Reuters) - The man accused in the movie theater massacre at the opening of the new "Batman" film mailed a notebook detailing his plans to a psychiatrist at his university before the attack, Fox News reported on Wednesday, as the first funeral was held for one of the 12 people killed.
The package allegedly sent by 24-year-old James Eagan Holmes had been in a mailroom at the University of Colorado since July 12 but remained unopened until its discovery on Monday, a law enforcement source told FoxNews.com.
Reuters could not immediately verify the report. Messages left with police in Aurora and other law enforcement officials involved in the case were not immediately returned.
A spokesman for the FBI's Denver office said the bureau could not speak about any aspect of the investigation because the judge in the case had issued a protective order on Tuesday that strictly limits what attorneys, law enforcement and court staff can say publicly about the case.
The Fox News report said police and FBI agents were called to the University of Colorado Anschutz medical campus in Aurora on Monday morning after a psychiatrist who is a professor at the school reported receiving a package believed to be from the suspect.
Although that package turned out to be from someone else and harmless, a search of the Campus Services' mail room turned up another parcel sent to the psychiatrist with Holmes' name in the return address, the source told Fox News.
After obtaining a search warrant, police took the package away and discovered its contents.
Fox News quoted its source saying: "Inside the package was a notebook full of details about how he was going to kill people. There were drawings of what he was going to do in it -- drawings and illustrations of the massacre."
Images in the notebook included drawings of stick figures shooting at other stick figures, the FoxNews.com report said.
Fox News did not identify the psychiatrist. Holmes was a doctoral student in neuroscience at the Anschutz campus until filing paperwork to drop out in June.
University spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery confirmed in a written statement that a suspicious package was delivered to the campus by mail on July 23 and said it was "immediately investigated and turned over to authorities within hours."
"The anonymous Fox News source that the package was received on July 12 and sat on a loading dock is inaccurate," Montgomery said in the statement.
She declined to discuss the package any further, citing the order by Aurora County District Judge William Sylvester.
Police say Holmes, wearing tactical body armor and a gas mask and toting three firearms, opened fire on a crowded midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" in the Denver suburb of Aurora, killing 12 people and wounding 58 others.
Holmes, who was arrested behind the theater immediately after the attack, made his first appearance in court on Monday, appearing sleepy and disoriented. Authorities plan to formally charge him on July 30.
Hundreds gathered on Wednesday at the nondenominational Pathways Church in Denver for the first funeral for a victim of the July 20 massacre.
Gordon Cowden, at 51 the oldest victim of the shooting, was a real estate appraiser who had taken his teenage daughters to the movie theater where he was killed. His daughters escaped unharmed.
An excerpt from the funeral program attributed to his daughter Brooke read: "I will never forget that in such disorientation and confusion of that night what was certain were your yells, declarations of 'I love you' to both of us. Forever, with love, Brooke."
Joyce Zounis, who knew Cowden through a single parents group at her Aurora church, said Brooke Cowden gave an emotional speech during the service in which she recounted dancing with her father at an outdoor concert in June.
"Little did she know, this would be her last dance with her dad," Zounis, 50, said.
Doug Newman, a friend of Cowden, said the grief inside the church was "pretty intense."
"I'm in absolute shock," Newman said. ""I haven't been myself for a few days."
Services for Cowden came as 19 of those injured in the shooting remained hospitalized, seven in critical condition.
HOSPITALS HELP COVER MEDICAL COSTS
Children's Hospital Colorado said on Wednesday that it would use donations to cover the medical expenses of any victims who lacked insurance and would waive co-pays or deductible related expenses for those with insurance.
HealthOne, which owns Medical Center or Aurora and Swedish Medical Center in Denver, said it would limit or eliminate hospital charges "as appropriate to each patient and the circumstances these individuals find themselves in."
HealthOne said it would not discuss any specific patient out of respect in order to respect privacy.
Judge Sylvester ruled on Tuesday that no cameras would be allowed in the courtroom when Holmes is charged next Monday. Holmes' initial appearance on Monday was televised.
Authorities have not offered a motive for the shooting spree. Police said Holmes, a former neuroscience student, left his 800-square-foot (75-square-metre) apartment booby-trapped with explosives that authorities said could have destroyed the entire complex.
Local and state bomb experts conducted a controlled demolition over last weekend.
On Wednesday members of Holmes' defense team spent about 45 minutes in the apartment, taking notes and videotaping the scene. Attorneys declined comment to reporters as they left.
Holmes, who authorities say dyed his hair red and told them he was The Joker in reference to Batman's comic-book nemesis, was being held in solitary confinement to protect him from other prisoners.
The shooting rampage has renewed debate in the United States about gun control. At the same time, Colorado authorities said on Tuesday that applications in the state for background checks to buy firearms surged in the aftermath of the shooting.