DENVER - A psychiatrist who treated the former graduate student accused of killing 12 people in a shooting rampage at a movie theater in Colorado warned her university about him more than a month before the massacre, a published report said on Wednesday, Aug. 1.
Dr Lynne Fenton notified a so-called threat-assessment team
at the University of Colorado, Denver, in early June that she
was alarmed by the behavior of James Holmes, but no further
action was taken, the Denver Post reported, citing an anonymous
source. Reuters could not immediately confirm the report.
Holmes, 24, was charged on Monday, July 30, with 24 counts of
first-degree murder and 116 counts of attempted murder in the
shooting at a midnight screening of the latest “Batman” movie in
suburban Denver, one of the worst outbursts of U.S. gun violence
in recent years.
Court papers filed by defense attorneys last week said
Holmes, a former neuroscience student at the university’s
Anschutz Medical Campus, had been a patient of Fenton, who is
medical director for student mental health services on campus.
Fox News has reported that Holmes sent Fenton a notebook
outlining his plans for the shooting, illustrated by
stick-figure drawings, but that it was not opened before the
A university spokeswoman, Jacque Montgomery, declined to
comment to Reuters on the Denver Post report, saying she was
bound by a protective or “gag” order issued by the judge in the
case and by student confidentiality laws.
“I believe, until it’s been demonstrated otherwise, that our
people did what they should have done,” University Chancellor
Don Elliman said in a statement, according to Montgomery.
Police and prosecutors, who have also been reluctant to
comment on the case since the judge issued his gag order, could
not be reached by Reuters for comment on Wednesday evening.
The Denver Post reported that Fenton raised her concerns
about Holmes with the university’s Behavioral Evaluation and
Threat Assessment team in early June. Denver’s KMGH-TV, also
citing unnamed sources, said school officials did not contact
Aurora police before the shooting and that no action was taken
because Holmes was in the process of dropping out of school.
Montgomery described the threat assessment team as a
resource consisting of representatives from various university
offices that provides information to faculty, staff or students
who are concerned about a member of the campus community.
Police have not offered a motive for the shooting rampage
that stunned Aurora and evoked memories of the 1999 massacre at
Columbine High School less than 20 miles away in Littleton.
Experts say Holmes’ mental state may be a key issue at trial.
The first-degree murder charges mean that Holmes, a
California native, is eligible to face the death penalty, but
prosecutors have not yet said if they will seek it. He is next
due in court on Sept. 27.