The University of Colorado has revealed little about James Holmes in the wake of the Aurora theater shooting spree, so the New York Times did some digging of its own. In a lengthy profile based on interviews with those who encountered him in the months before the massacre, the Times paints a picture of an obviously intelligent but painfully shy loner who often cracked awkward jokes—and offered hints to some that he was losing his grip. Notable revelations from the article:
- Just two weeks before the shootings, Holmes texted one of his former fellow grad students asking if she'd heard of "dysphoric mania." It's a form of bipolar disorder that can lead to dark and paranoid delusions, and the student asked if it could be treated. "It was," Holmes texted back, before telling her to keep her distance from him "because I am bad news." She asked if he wanted to talk—but never heard from him again.
- He impressed his teachers and fellow students, with one professor calling an essay of his "spectacular" and nearly professional-level. But he bombed his oral exams in June, and texted a fellow student that he was going to quit. "Are you kidding me?" she replied. "No, I am just being James," he wrote back. He had awkwardly flirted with the woman via text for months, but when he saw her in person he sometimes failed to even acknowledge her.
- He spent months stocking up on weapons and ammo, and showed a fellow student a Glock semiautomatic pistol he bought "for protection" in May. Around the same time, he became obsessed with a low-budget movie called Suffocator of Sins that the Times calls "a Batman-style story of vigilante justice and dark redemption." He called the director twice, saying he'd watched the four-minute trailer for the film 100 times. "He was obviously interested in the body count," the director says.
The Times' entire profile
is worth a read.