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Cops Call Massacre Suspect's Booby-Trapped Apartment "Vexing"

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A day after the horrific killing of 12 people and wounding of 58 others at a suburban Denver movie theater, police are hoping to enter the apartment of the massacre suspect. James Holmes was taken into custody after allegedly entering an Aurora movie theater in riot gear, throwing gas canisters at the Dark Knight Rises midnight screening audience, and opening fire—investigators found a 12-gauge shotgun, an AR-15 assault weapon and a .40-caliber Glock handgun in the theater. Holmes told authorities that he had explosives in his home, and when police arrived at his apartment, they found a "tangle of wires, trip wires, jars full of liquid and things resembling mortar rounds."

Aurora police chief Daniel Oates said the set-up was "vexing... "I personally have never seen anything like what the pictures show us is in there" and the Denver Post reports, "Police officers and FBI agents rode a firetruck bucket to the third floor of the three-story building, smashed a window with a long pole and took pictures inside Holmes' residence." And, from the NY Times, the police described how they hope to recover evidence:

Sgt. Cassidee Carlson of the Aurora Police Department said that the authorities had a three-step plan to enter the apartment and preserve as much evidence as possible. “The most immediate threat is the trip wire,” Sergeant Carlson said. If the experts can do that safely without detonations they will. If some devices need to be blown up, she said, they would do all they could to contain the damage.

“There are still unknowns,” she said. “We are not exactly sure of everything that is in there.”

Once the trip wires are rendered harmless, the plan is to remove the ammunition in the apartment, load it in sand filled trucks and then detonate it in a remote location.

Then, she said, the authorities hope they can investigate the apartment as they would any other crime scene.

Since there may be several controlled explosions throughout the day, she said the police would be alerting local residents to keep them informed.

Carlson said, "I can't put an end time on it. We don't need to rush anything." Yesterday, local authorities cancelled plans to send in a robot, apparently over worries that the robot might detonate bombs. Holmes, who
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grew up in San Diego and was an honors student at UC Riverside, moved to Colorado to pursue a PhD in neuroscience (the University of Colorado says he was in the process of withdrawing). His apartment complex is for students affiliated with the school: Neighbors spoke to reporters, and one said he saw Holmes "walk[ing] out carrying two black bags" on Thursday afternoon. Dr. Zhang Yi said, "I said, 'Hey,' and he doesn't answer me. Not friendly."

Further, other neighbors say that loud techno music started playing from Holmes' apartment around midnight. One, who walked up to Holmes apartment to bang on the door, thinks it was on a timer and added "I'm concerned if I had opened the door, I would have set it off." Another described being evacuated around 2 a.m.: "I heard a loud crash. It sounded like an air conditioner falling to the ground. About 10 minutes later, I heard police knock on my door. Police were armed with assault rifles and they brought us outside the apartment building and started questioning us."

ABC 15 in Denver says that Holmes may have taken 100mg of Vicodin before the shooting (Vicodin dosages are typically 5-10mg per tablet). Also: "One source believed the ammo drum for the AR-15 had jammed sometime during the shooting."

Update, 11:20 MDT/10:20 PDT: The Aurora police say the first trip wire was successfully deactivated: "This is some serious stuff they're dealing with."

10:46 PDT: AP Tweeted, "BREAKING: A bomb squad has set off a small detonation in the apartment of the Colorado shooting suspect"