Suspect James Holmes, the man police say killed a dozen people and injured dozens more at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises, legally purchased and carried the weapons believed to be responsible for the massacre, authorities say.
Police say that suspect James Holmes was in possession of several firearms and rounds of ammunition, and apparently was in total compliance with laws relating to guns an ammo when he began building his arsenal in May of this year.
James Holmes has been described in the media as a quiet young man, one many felt was too “mellow” to carry out the atrocities of which he stands accused. But some have said that the suspected gunman was socially awkward and “off” in the weeks before the spree killing that left 12 dead and as many as 70 wounded.
The arrest of James Holmes in the wake of the tragedy has revived the debate over legal gun ownership in America anew, and the fact that the suspect appears to have purchased all weapons he used in compliance with extant laws is sure to amplify the debate. Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said at a Friday night press conference:
“My understanding is all weapons he possessed, he possessed legally. All ammunition he possessed, he possessed legally.”
As the steps Holmes took to secure the small arsenal he used visit carnage on a peaceful movie theater come under review, one of the dealers, Bass Pro Shops, released a statement confirming that while the suspected shooter purchased the guns it is believed he used at one of their outlets, employees followed regulations to the letter in selling Holmes the items:
Bass Pro Shops communication manager Larry Whiteley says:
‘We want to offer our deepest sympathies to the victims and their families.This is an unspeakable tragedy, and we join with all Americans in offering our prayerful support. Based on the records we have reviewed, personnel in our Denver store correctly and fully followed all Federal requirements with respect to the sale of one shotgun and one handgun to the individual identified in this incident.”
An AR-15 semi-automatic military assault rifle is Legal but Marijuana is Illegal #America
— DJ DELZ (@djdelz) July 20, 2012
The statement continued:
“Background checks, as required by Federal law, were properly conducted, and he was approved. Again, our hearts go out to the victims and their families. We also offer our support and appreciation to the law enforcement and emergency response professionals and all others who responded to give aid to these innocent victims.”
James Holmes is due to appear in court Monday, but has not yet been formally charged with a crime in connection with the theater massacre.