Accused Colorado gunman made threats to psychiatrist

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 27, 2012 8:45 PM
Accused Colorado gunman made threats to psychiatrist

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - Accused Colorado gunman James Holmes made threats to a university psychiatrist before a July shooting rampage at a suburban Denver screening of a Batman movie that killed 12 people, according to court documents released on Friday.

The University of Colorado psychiatrist reported those unspecified threats to campus police before the shooting at a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises," a court document filed a week after the shooting and unsealed on Friday showed.

Holmes, a former neuroscience graduate student, has been charged with murder and attempted murder over the rampage, one of the worst outbursts of U.S. gun violence in recent years. In addition to those who died, 58 people were wounded.

University psychiatrist Lynne Fenton, who has testified that she treated Holmes, 24, more than a month before the July 20 shooting, has said her professional relationship with Holmes ended in mid-June.

"The relationship was terminated after the defendant made threats towards who reported the matter to the University of Colorado (CU) police department," the newly unsealed documents said.

"As a result of these actions, university administration terminated the defendant's access privileges to all or part of the Anschutz campus," the documents said.

The documents said the threats were made to a university psychiatrist, but they were heavily redacted, and Fenton's name does not appear in the document.

Prosecutors have depicted Holmes as a young man whose once promising academic career was in tatters as he failed graduate school oral board exams in June and one of his professors suggested he may not have been a good fit for his competitive Ph.D. program.

They have said that Holmes lost his access to the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus after making unspecified threats to a professor on June 12, after which he began a voluntary withdrawal from his program.


Other court documents among the 57 unsealed on Friday give more insight into a notebook that Holmes mailed to Fenton the day before the massacre.

Prosecutors expressed frustration with a published report saying the notebook was "full of details about how he was going to kill people," and included "drawings and illustrations of the massacre," according to one document.

That information, given to Fox News from an unidentified law enforcement source, violated Holmes' doctor-patient privilege, prosecutors argued in the July 25 document.

Prosecutors said Holmes began "a detailed and complex plan" to commit murder and obtain an arsenal of guns and protective armor after he was denied access to campus facilities.

Holmes' attorney Daniel King, who analysts have said appears to be laying the groundwork for a possible insanity defense, has said his client suffers from an unspecified mental illness and had tried to get help before the shooting.

Previous media reports have said Fenton reported her concerns about Holmes to a campus threat assessment team and a campus police officer.

(Writing and additional reporting by Mary Slosson; Editing by Paul Thomasch and Vicki Allen)