A gas mask lying in the parking lot. A rifle surrounded by smears of blood. Images of bullet-riddled theater seats.
These images are among hundreds of pieces of evidence released by the Arapahoe County, Colorado, District Attorney’s office following the Aurora movie theater shooting trial of James Holmes.
The images, never before seen by the public, provide a haunting view inside Holmes’ booby-trapped apartment and the theater where he gunned down 12 people and wounded 70 others during a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” on July 19, 2012.
Holmes ducked out the back door of the theater after the film began and retrieved body armor, a helmet, a gas mask, an AR-15 rifle, a shotgun and a pistol. He re-entered the theater, tossed tear gas into the crowd and began shooting. After a weapon jammed, he walked out and surrendered to a police officer.
He also had booby-trapped his apartment with more than 30 homemade grenades and 10 gallons of gasoline, although authorities were able to disarm those devices without any further injury.
Jurors convicted Holmes in July of 165 counts, including 24 counts of first-degree murder. Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. sentenced Holmes to life in prison for each killing plus 3,318 years without the possibility of parole.
Holmes’ attorneys depicted him as suffering from extreme mental illness. They highlighted a rambling journal in which he recorded plans for the shooting, as well as a “life capital” plan in which he gained points for each life he took.
Among the images released by prosecutors are two from inside the theater, one taken from the front of the auditorium — a view similar to what Holmes may have had during his rampage. The other shows rods inserted into bullet holes showing the trajectories of bullets.
Another image shows the AR-15 Holmes used in the shooting. It’s laying on the concrete outside the purple door leading back inside the theater. Blood drops and smears and a pair of pink flip-flops surround it.
The images from his room show a glass jar of bullets submerged in liquid with wires emerging from the top, as well as a view of his bedroom, the window smashed, the red satin sheets on his bed rumpled and a poster of a shot glass on the wall over the words “Challenge: When life gives you a challenge … take your shot.”