There Was Advance Warning About Aurora Shooter James Holmes; It Was Ignored

James Holmes booking photo (Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office)

Accused mass murder James Holmes, who shot up at midnight showing to the new Batman film in Aurora, Colorado, so concerned his psychiatrist at the University of Colorado she had refered him to a university threat assessment board. From ABC News:

Aurora, Colo., shooting suspect James Holmes came to the attention of the threat assessment committee at the University of Colorado but no further action was taken because he left the school more than a month before the attack that killed 12 and injured 58, sources told ABC News.

ABC News has learned that Dr. Lynne Fenton, the psychiatrist who was treating Holmes, 24, at the school, was also a key member of the university’s threat assessment team. The group of experts were responsible for protecting the school from potentially violent students.

KMGH-TV, ABC News’ affiliate in Denver, reported exclusively that, according to sources, by early June, Fenton had informed other members of the team about her concerns regarding Holmes.

But on June 10 — three days after Holmes bought an assault weapon and added it to his already growing arsenal — he suddenly told the university that he was dropping out of the neurosciences doctoral program with no explanation.

KMGH-TV reported last week that he’d purchased the weapon hours after failing a key oral exam.

The Denver Post reports:

CU’s website says the BETA team is available whenever faculty, staff or student community members are confronted with people they believe are threatening, disruptive or otherwise problematic.

The team provides guidance and consultation and may make referrals to appropriate campus or community resources. It is not a law enforcement mechanism, said CU officials in a statement released Wednesday.

7News reported Wednesday that a source said Fenton first contacted the BETA team in “the first 10 days” of June, but the team didn’t meet or move the matter forward because Holmes began the process of leaving CU.

The creation of the BETA team was probably a response to the Virginia Tech massacre, as most 2 and 4-year universities reviewed their campus safety and mental health screening programs in the wake of that tragedy.

The tragedy here is that it appears that the university dropped the ball on Holmes because he wasn’t going to be their problem any more. That’s inexcusable…

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  • AndrewX

    * sigh *

    I dunno. Yes, let’s thoroughly understand, to the best of our abilities, just what happened here and when, and do our best to…. do what we can do.

    But you what? You want to know what this “SOMEBODY must be held responsible” ideal leads to? Let me tell you.

    It leads to 8-year-old kids being suspended from school because they had an Advil, or maybe a spork, in their bag. It leads to lifeguards being fired because they rescued someone fifty yards outside their “domain” (thus leaving their own territory “unguarded” for ten minutes, heaven forfend!). It leads to cops harassing a father for walking hand in hand with his eight year old daughter. (Are you SURE you’re OK little girl? Is this man taking you somewhere you don’t want to go?) It leads to politicians genuinely believing it is their right and duty to ban 24 oz soft drinks. And on… and on…. and on…. and on… and ON…. AND ON……

    And in this case, it might easily result in serious harm being done to a psychiatric patient’s faith in confidentiality. Will, “boy I had a weird dream last night that I hunting people with a gun for some reason, can you explain that doctor?” now result in a visit by the Feds? Who will sure as hell know less about psychiatry than the doctor forced by law / regs / civil liability to call them in?

    I don’t know what happened with Dr. Fenton, what level of genuine negligence might be the case here. But I do know that a whole lot of people who know as much about psychiatry as I know about quantum string theory will be happy to inform us all “who is at fault here, and what ought to be done”, and no few of those ignoramuses will have political authority to enforce their whims, and will then go home and pat themselves on the back for it. God knows what the inevitable unexpected consequences will be….. AGAIN!

    This is a conservative blog. At what point, as conservatives, do we acknowledge that BAD THINGS HAPPEN in this world, and slathering layer number 876,458 of a lead blanket of new laws, policies, and regulations is not helpful in the long run, and will be the death by crushing of liberty on this earth.

    I claim no answers here to this Gawd-awful event. Problem is, I have a hell of a reluctance to trust politicians, lawyers, and regulators who DO make such a claim. They don’t have a great record on this score when it comes time to implement. But they’ll sure feel great about themselves for doing it.

    And we will be slightly less free today than we were yesterday because of it. And so it will go….. and go…. and go…..

    • herddog505

      Well said.

    • jim_m

      Exactly. Life is not without risk. You want a world with a maximally reduced risk? Go live in a totalitarian state. Of course the risk then is that the state identifies you as a risk to itself, at which point your life becomes entirely expendable.

    • Jake

      “This is a conservative blog. At what point, as conservatives, do we acknowledge that BAD THINGS HAPPEN in this world, and slathering layer number 876,458 of a lead blanket of new laws, policies, and regulations is not helpful in the long run, and will be the death by crushing of liberty on this earth.”


      This is THE biggest areas I don’t understand about the conservative agenda and the Republican party. The party who wraps themselves in the flag and goes over the top with eagle tattoos and “thanking the troops for protecting our freedoms” aren’t willing to also fight for freedom by getting on a plane without a pat down, all while explaining away that “if you don’t have something to hide, why do you care about body scans or pat downs?” I don’t understand a party who’s seemingly sole ambition is to protect my freedoms while simultaneously outsourcing the freedom protection to soldiers and doing very little themselves to risk something in order to fight for that protection.

      I’m disgusted that the entire discussion after CO has been about a) increased gun control or b) arming every citizen to have been capable of firing back (in a crowded, smoky theater). No, the discussion really should be about *calming the f**k down*. This guy was crazy. Bad things happen. It’s horrifying, but it was one guy. Let’s not start restricting or arming until we can see some real trend.

      • SCSIwuzzy

        Generalize much Jake? Sounds more like the Colbert report parody than anyone I’ve actually met.

    • Guest

      I don’t automatically assign blame to his shrink. But with a tragedy like this, I think it’s certainly in order to ask how it might have been prevented … and that includes an inquiry into whether his mental-health professional discharged his or her duties. Did somebody commit gross negligence? Or did somebody fail to discharge his professional duties? Or did somebody just make a bad judgment call? Or were there no indicators whatsoever? Each scenario calls for a different response, and you can’t respond unless the quesitons are asked.

      • PBunyan

        You totally missed the point of the comment to which you’re replying. Your comment exemplifies the statement: “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety and will loose both.” (As we have exponentially of late.)

        Edit: I retract my comment, it was an overreaction.

    • PBunyan

      Excellent comment Andrew. If I could click up arrow a thousand times I would.

  • Wild_Willie

    I agree with the below comment to a point. There is evil in the world and bad things will happen. No planning will stop it or mitigate it.
    Having said that, when the psychiatrist realized there was a possible threat, the authorities could have been warned and local gun shops could have been asked if this guy had bought any weapons lately. Very narrow scope. Very specific focus. ww

    • It sounds good, but can we really say how many people in metropolitan Denver could get on that action list in any given week?

      • jim_m

        I don’t know. How many conservatives piss off intolerant lefties every week in Denver?

    • Rance Frayger

      The police can go to the local gun shop and maybe ask for information about customer purchases. If anybody else tries to get this information, the gun shop owner would be within his rights and maybe even legal obligation to tell that person to take a hike.

      • jim_m

        That’s because there isn’t anything illegal in purchasing a gun. And a lot of the questions that the left wants answered are already on the for 4473 that you have to fill out.

        the police do not get unrestricted access to this information, they would need a warrant and to get that they would have to show cause.

        The issue is not that we do not have methods to stop some of this it’s just that you can never stop every tragedy. But I do think that we need to do better about getting people like James Holmes the help they need.

      • 914

        I don’t know? I asked a Walmart electronics clerk which was the better model of big screen TVs and he told me which one had the fewest returns and problems and I went with that.

        Of course he was not the owner but it was free good advice. If you are asking about a specific person, probably so. But asking general information about products in lieu of a possible sale, not so much.

  • retired.military

    Lets all have a happy happy joy joy day as we eat at Taco Bell every day.

  • When the team created to handle the nutjobs says “We can’t handle this nutjob” – take a hint!