Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Suspect played with puppets

Accused shooter mentally ill: defence

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CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- It was hours after a Colorado movie theatre shooting, and James Holmes was not acting like a man accused of methodically planning the attack that killed 12 people.

As a police detective interviewed the suspect they'd picked up outside the theatre, he started pretending the paper bags on his hands -- meant to preserve gunshot residue -- were puppets.

The former neuroscience graduate student tried to jam a staple into an electrical outlet. He played with a cup on the table. An officer noted that his eyes were dilated.

The description came Tuesday as prosecutors try to show Holmes should face a trial for the July 20 attack at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. He faces more than 160 felony charges for allegedly killing 12 and injuring 70.

Defence attorneys say Holmes is mentally ill, and have used their questions to try to make that point. They said they might call witnesses later in the week who could discuss Holmes' mental health.

The description of Holmes after the attack, given by police detective Craig Appel, seemed to undercut prosecutors' attempts to show Holmes as methodical, spending two months to assemble his arsenal.

The first recorded purchase: two tear gas grenades, ordered online May 10.

Holmes also bought two Glock handguns, a shotgun and an AR-15 rifle, along with 6,295 rounds of ammunition, targets, body armour and chemicals, prosecutors said.

He dyed his hair bright orange, then bought a scope and non-firing dummy bullets, the visit and the new hair colour documented in security video.

Finally, he purchased glycerin and potassium permanganate -- chemicals that could combine to create fire and sparks -- from a Denver science store. At some point, he also improvised napalm, as well as thermite, a substance which burns so hot that water can't extinguish the blaze.

Holmes' purchases were split between two planned attacks, prosecutors said -- the theatre shooting and a booby trapped apartment that would've blown up if anyone had entered.

Police said he volunteered information about the booby traps. Authorities dismantled them.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 9, 2013 A8

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