Aurora shooting: Suspect James Holmes appears in court
- 24 July 2012
- From the section US & Canada
The US man accused of killing 12 people in a shooting at a Batman film screening in Aurora, Colorado has appeared in court for the first time.
James Holmes, 24, sat in court in a red jail suit with dyed orange hair, and appeared dazed during the proceedings.
Seven of 58 people wounded by the gunman remain in critical condition.
On Sunday, President Barack Obama met survivors and families of the dead as hundreds of people took part in a service of remembrance.
Mr Holmes is to be held without bail at a jail in Centennial, Colorado, the judge said.
The suspect is accused of throwing two canisters of gas into a busy midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises early on Friday, before firing at random into the crowd. Witnesses say he was wearing full body armour during the attack.
It is reported that the death toll could have been even higher because a semi-automatic rifle jammed during the attack and the gunman switched to a weapon with less firepower.
Mr Holmes was being held in solitary confinement. Police say he is not co-operating with them.
In San Diego, California, a lawyer for his family, Lisa Damiani, said later on Monday that their hearts went out to the victims.
When asked if Mr Holmes' parents stood by him, Ms Damiani said: "Yes they do. He's their son."
The dead include a six-year-old girl and two US military servicemen.
Mr Holmes appeared in court at 09:30 local time (15:30 GMT) for the first stage in a process likely to see him face at least 12 counts of first-degree murder. He could face further charges of aggravated assault and weapons violations.
Prosecutors are to formally file charges on 30 July.
One prosecutor has warned it could take at least a year before Mr Holmes stands trial, the AP reported.
'Hearts are broken'
The office of prosecutor Carol Chambers is considering whether to press for the death penalty for Mr Holmes, a decision that will be made in consultation with the victims' families, she said.
On Monday morning uniformed police were stationed outside the court house, and deputies were patrolling the roofs of court buildings.
Family members of the victims were in court, many in the first row.
Tom Teves, whose son Alex was killed in the attack, watched Mr Holmes throughout the hearing.
"I saw the coward in court today and Alex could have wiped the floor with him without breaking a sweat," Mr Teves said.
Other family members waited outside the courtroom.
Asked what punishment Mr Holmes should face if convicted, David Sanchez, whose heavily pregnant 21-year-old daughter escaped the shooting, said he should be executed.
President Obama said that when he visited Aurora on Sunday he had shared hugs and tears, but also laughter as the families recounted the lives of their loved ones.
He added that he had visited as much as a father and husband as a president, and that Aurora was in the nation's thoughts.
Mr Obama said: "I confessed to them words were inadequate but my main task was to serve as a representative of the entire country and say we are thinking about them at this moment each and every day."
Both Mr Obama and his Republican Party challenger, Mitt Romney, curtailed their election campaigning in the wake of the Aurora attack, dropping advertising in Colorado state out of respect for victims and their families.
Meanwhile, residents have been laying flowers at a memorial site near the Century cinema and thousands of people have been participating in vigils outside City Hall.
Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan told the crowd on Sunday: "While our hearts are broken, our community is not."
On Saturday police managed to gain access to Mr Holmes' flat, after making safe explosive booby traps.
The FBI is now collecting evidence, and investigators say a computer found inside his home could provide crucial details.
Several US media outlets have reported that a Batman mask and poster were in the flat, but the authorities have not confirmed this.
Police said the suspect had acted with "calculation and deliberation", adding that he had been stockpiling ammunition for months.
Over the course of eight weeks he bought 6,300 rounds of ammunition: 3,000 for a .233 semi-automatic AR-15 rifle, 3,000 for two .40 Glock 22 pistols and 300 cartridges for a pump-action shotgun.
Mr Holmes bought the four weapons legally.
Authorities say the suspect is not linked to terror groups and they have not established a motive for the attack. Mr Holmes had no criminal record other than a speeding fine.
He grew up in San Diego and had been pursuing a PhD in neuroscience at the University of Colorado in Denver. School officials have said that he recently left the programme.