Aurora Shooting Anniversary: Where is the Colorado movie theatre shooter James Holmes now?

After the shooting, defense lawyers claimed that he was mentally ill, while one schizophrenia expert testified that he was psychotic and legally insane


                            Aurora Shooting Anniversary: Where is the Colorado movie theatre shooter James Holmes now?
James Holmes (Getty Images)

On July 20, 2012, 25-year-old James Holmes allegedly set off several smoke canisters into a Century 16 theatre screening of 'The Dark Knight Rises' and opened fire on the audience, killing 12 and injuring 70. He was armed with a semi-automatic rifle, a shotgun and a pistol and according to prosecution, was listening to loud techno music on headphones during the assault "to block out the screams". The police arrested him next to his car behind the theatre in Aurora, Colorado, moments after the shooting rampage. The responding officers recovered several guns from inside his car and the theatre. He also claimed that he had booby-trapped his apartment with explosives and flammable liquids, which the police had confirmed was true after investigators disarmed some 30 homemade grenades and 10 gallons of gasoline.

At the time of the shooting, Holmes had been pursuing a PhD in neuroscience at the University of Colorado, Denver, although he was about to quit. His defense lawyers claimed that he was mentally ill, while one schizophrenia expert testified that he was psychotic and legally insane. Dr Lynne Fenton, a university psychiatrist who saw Holmes as one of her patients, also suspected prior to the shooting that he suffered from a mental illness and could be potentially dangerous. She had reported to the campus police that he had made homicidal statements which indicated that he was a threat to the public. Despite that, she decided to hospitalize him for saying he wanted to kill people. Days before the attack, he was said to have sent a notebook to Dr Fenton, which never reached her. According to US media reports, the notebook included drawings of a violent attack.

In this handout provided by the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office, accused movie theater shooter James Holmes poses for a booking photo on an unspecified date in Centennial, Colorado (Getty Images)

In July 2015, Holmes was found guilty on all 165 counts against him, which included 24 counts of first-degree murder, 140 counts of attempted murder, and one count of possession or control of an explosive or incendiary device. He received 12 life sentences, one life term for each of the victims he had killed, plus 3,318 years in prison for the attempted murders of the victims he wounded. 

Holmes was initially jailed in Arapahoe Detention Center and was under suicide watch after attempting to kill himself several times while in jail in late 2012. He was then held in solitary confinement to protect him from other inmates, which was basically a routine precaution for high-profile cases such as this one. In August 2013, Holmes was transferred to the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo, Colorado. In 2015 he was transferred to a Colorado prison after his term was set.. Holmes became the subject of public controversy after he was transferred to an out-of-state prison in January 2016 from the Colorado State Penitentiary. He was attacked by an inmate in prison in an incident that also injured a guard and the prison officials had refused to disclose his new location. They would only say that he had been moved to an out-of-state prison for his and correctional officers' safety. 

The status of Holmes's location was only made public in September 2017, after the Colorado Department of Corrections confirmed that he had been moved to a federal prison. He was transferred to the US Penitentiary Allenwood, a high-security facility in central Pennsylvania, according to an update on the Federal Bureau of Prisons inmate tracker. However, the location of his previous internment was never revealed. 

If you have a news scoop or an interesting story for us, please reach out at (323) 421-7514