“We Sure As Hell Are Angry”: Bomb Squad Defuses Holmes’ Apartment

Police chief reports that the deadly explosives in James Holmes' apartment in Aurora have been safely detonated; he'd feared for his officers' lives

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DON EMMERT / AFP - Getty Images

Debris flies out a window after law enforcement officers detonated an explosive device inside the apartment of shooting suspect James Holmes in Aurora, Colo., on Saturday, July 21.

The overwhelming breath-holding of the day was concentrated around the so-called “booby-trapped” apartment belonging to the alleged shooter, James Holmes. After a joint bomb squad of technicians both local and federal were apparently successful in defusing a number of devices inside the apartment, Aurora police chief Dan Oates showed a rare moment of raw emotion.

“Make no mistake about it. We sure as hell are angry,” Oates said at the Saturday afternoon press conference. “What has happened to our city, what he’s done to the wonderful people who live here, and also with what he threatened to do to our police officers.” After his apprehension early Friday, Holmes admitted to police that his apartment, on the top floor of a sleepy 3-story apartment building in northwest Aurora, was rigged.

Upon treading carefully outside the apartment yesterday morning, authorities said they saw up to 60 “improvised explosive and/or incendiary devices,” said Special Agent in Charge Jim Yacone of the FBI‘s Denver division. There were also wires, fuses and a possible accelerant that would have the potential to spread or amplify any explosion. They worked to set up a controlled detonation effort using robotic technology with the capability to snip wires. By Saturday morning, a number of local streets were blocked off as a precaution, and residents of the 12-unit building and four adjacent complexes were all evacuated. Aurora initiated a reverse 911 call to let folks know there might be some sort of detonation. Before activating the first controlled explosion around 10:40 a.m., authorities sounded an alarm and yelled “Fire in the hole” three times, followed by a small yet significant boom which was thought to have detonated the dangerous devices. Another small explosion followed around noon local time.

(MORE: Who Is Suspect James Holmes?)

Yacone was careful to note that “the threat has not been completely eliminated, but it has been significantly reduced.” He wouldn’t go into the composition of the incendiary devices so as not to jeopardize the prosecution but confirmed that the next person to open the door “would have sustained significant injuries and/or lost their life.” Oates explained how the fear hit his team. “Who was most likely to enter that location after he planned and executed this horrific crime? It was going to be a police officer.” But the robot was able to remove the initial trip wire across the front door, as well as to “neutralize a hydrobolic mixture, a form of an oxidizer and some fuel that was inside.”

The many potentially explosive devices that filled Holmes’ apartment, along with the 6,000 rounds of ammo he’s thought to have possessed, Oates said, were no accident. He shed light on the premeditation of Holmes’ operation, saying that he “had received a high volume of commercial deliveries to both his work and home addresses” over the past months.

MSNBC spoke to a former resident of apartment #10, the unit that Holmes lived in. The prior tenant, who lived there two years ago, paid $525 a month for the one-bedroom, 800 square foot apartment. The apartment was adjacent to the School of Medicine at the University of Colorado Denver, where Holmes was studying for his PhD in neuroscience until he withdrew last month. There was a concern that Holmes may have been able to obtain hazardous materials from the medical school, but Oates said that over the past 24 hours, the school completed a “thorough search of biohazards and radioactive materials and found there is nothing missing.”

(PHOTOS: Scenes from Aurora: Aftermath of the Theater Massacre)

The youngest victim announced Saturday was 6-year-old Veronica Moser, who had attended the midnight showing with her mother Ashley. A relative interviewed by MSNBC said that Ashley Moser is still in critical condition after being shot herself and doesn’t yet have an idea about the tragedy that befell her daughter.

Trauma surgeon Dr. Bob Snyder from the Medical Center of Aurora said that his team was treating seven victims from the shooting. Their youngest patient was 16; the oldest, 31. “We had everything from head injuries, chest injuries to belly injuries to injuries to the arms and legs. It pretty much runs the gamut of multiple gunshots,” he said at a Saturday morning press conference. “Some of the injuries people are dealing with will be permanent.”

The Los Angeles Times reported Saturday that in 2008, Holmes worked as a camp counselor in Los Angeles for disadvantaged kids, a program run by Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters. In the program, Holmes was responsible for 10 kids. And through his tenure, he reportedly received no incident reports, and there was no record of any problems. While it seems incongruous that the alleged shooter would have worked so closely with kids, this incident-free description is not inconsistent with what little we’ve learned about him. Holmes remains a virtual ghost online. No Facebook, Twitter or MySpace account has yet been found for him — though it has been discovered that he had a profile on sex site AdultFriendFinder. Holmes, the alleged shooter, will be arraigned Monday.

MORE: Complete Coverage of the Aurora, Colorado Shooting

28 comments
WeeItsNookies
WeeItsNookies

see guys? ban guns..you'll still be able to make bombs. A bomb > Inexperienced shooter. 

Heterotic
Heterotic

So they are angry because they actually have to work for their paycheck for once, too funny.

sacredh
sacredh

They put their lives on the line for peanuts. Every time they stop a car for a violation or respond to a call, it may be the last thing they do. They're protecting us.

Moochie2012
Moochie2012

My apologies for reading your name as Don.  Please edit to "Chief Dan Oates."  He deserves his name to be correctly written.  Thank you.

Moochie2012
Moochie2012

Chief Don Oates and the entire police force: Excellent work and we owe all of you a debt of gratitude.  Thank you for your skill, your patience, and your commitment to the citizens of Aurora.  The tragedy did not affect me personally except in the same way it affects all of humanity...but regardless of the miles or anonymity, I feel safer in this world because you're in it.  

Tony Adams
Tony Adams

WHERE is the main story in the aftermath?  Has anyone else been deeply disturbed by the sheer number of "parents" who brought their young children ( 3-month, 6-month, 6 years, 7years...etc ) to this VIOLENT midnight ADULT movie?

 

1) Why did these movie theaters allow CHILDREN under the age of 18-year-olds in at midnight?

 

Something is DEFINITEY WRONG here that we have laws that permit these nitwit "parents"  to bring babies to adult movies in the middle of the night.

 

Seriously, what is WRONG with these so-called "parents" that bringing these babies to adult violent, loud, movies when these babies should be home sleeping in their own beds?

 

Really – be free. Do, say , view whatever you choose. But, when you subject children to this, I have to strenuously object. AS WE ALL SHOULD.

 

WHY hasn't ANY media AT ALL picked up and ran with this???

 

Perhaps the "media" are all 20 year old nitwits who think that it might be just fine for babies, toddlers, and elementary kids to view violent movies at mid til 2 am.

 

REALLY - am I alone in  DEMANDING some type of accounting here?

dosssva
dosssva

1.  What is the sheer number of which you speak?

2. Do you really think that is the main story in the aftermath?

3. Would his crime be any less heinous had he only killed adults?

4. Seriously? A massacre like this and the detail that jumps out at you is that some folks make poor parenting decisions?

Nilson.Laura
Nilson.Laura

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Robert Leabo
Robert Leabo

I agree. My family and I were talking about this on the car ride home; shouldn't the children have been at home, IN BED, or w/ a babysitter? Also: as an observant person, I tend to be more attuned/vigilant when it comes to people so as soon as he propped open and exited the fire exit door, I would've said to myself: "Wait... something's not right, here!" I know most ppl were probably hypnotized by the film, but I'm always aware of my surroundings. In any case: it's a very sad story w/ devastating and life altering consequences for everyone involved. :(

jesse waite
jesse waite

 your children werent at home or with a babysitter when you discussed this, if there was an accident youre a crappy parent because you obviously werent paying attention to the road while you were talking...

So your powers of attentiveness would have allowed you to see around corners?  Movie theatre exits are often around a corner. They do this so if someone leaves the theater in the middle of the movie, the place isnt flooded with outside.

Get over yourself 

LoudRambler
LoudRambler

 The main story in the aftermath is that anyone cares about deaths only if they are inflicted deliberately by an armed maniac in numbers sufficient to make headlines. People don't care about other people's lives were they taken by accident or over series of incidents.

 Today, two buses collided in South Africa with 18 dead and 27 wounded. Over the last two months, the retaliatory attacks in very public places between two gangs in Toronto claimed 7 and sent about 20 to hospital.

 But, obviously, it is not your life - it is the publicity that surrounds your death.

NotCreativeAtAll
NotCreativeAtAll

The media hasn't picked it up and ran with it because only a self-righteous prick would criticize the victims' parenting skills so soon after the tragedy.

Who knows why children were there.  Perhaps it was an error in judgment on the parents' behalf.  In any case, it doesn't make them bad parents nor should it draw focus away from more important topics like the dozens killed/injured and what would cause someone to do something so horrible.

timrobson
timrobson

Don Monmouth, you're an idiot. The tea party connection was a drive-by slander for which ABC is about to pay very dearly. The tea party guy is a different "James Holmes". ABC corrected their report within hours, but apparently you didn't get the memo. For all we know the shooter may be a Democrat, just like the dirtbag who shot Gabrielle Giffords. I look forward to a similar expression of outrage against your buddies in the Democratic Underground should that turn out to be the case.

Incidentally, you've now repeated a defamatory statement in a public forum, so you're liable as well.

EDIT: I see you've now deleted your post. How courageous of you. So much for speaking truth to power.

Don Monmouth
Don Monmouth

I didn't "delete" it. Some tea bagger (you, probably) had it done for me. Wow. you have God-like powers. And yet you and your kristallnacht buddies are about as innocent as a heart attack. The TP helped start this BS. They should be held accountable for the actions of the people who believe the TP line of garbage and are acting on it. Bad people equal bad decisions that always harm others. You are an example in point

f_galton
f_galton

You are hostile, threatening, and out of touch with reality. I've had your name added to the Citizens Auxiliary Future Domestic Terrorist Watch List.

Don Monmouth
Don Monmouth

f_galton...Sounds like a perfect "big government" plan! More power to you. I will sleep better knowing that the CAFDTWL  is ready to shred the existence of anyone who does not toe a party line. God bless us all...but especially the "Tea Party" (sic)

dosssva
dosssva

 I'm no fan of the TP but no one knows what motivates nut jobs like this. They've been around a lot longer than the TP. Remember Columbine and Oklahoma City. Our nation is polarized enough without people turning this tragedy into a partisan issue. But with the media's help, they will.

timrobson
timrobson

I didn't have your post deleted, you worthless puke. I'm quite happy to let you incriminate yourself, and let your post expose you to the ridicule and contempt you so richly deserve. I imagine, though, that our hosts at Time are unwilling to provide you with a forum for defamation, lest they be implicated by association.

By the way, where did you get the idea that I was a "tea bagger"? I'm neither that, nor a Republican. I'm not even an American. That being the case, perhaps you can explain how opening fire on a crowd of theatregoers amounts to "believing the TP line of garbage and acting on it". While you're at it, kindly explain how you obtained your unique insight into the mindset of this psychopath. Are you an acquaintance of his?

timrobson
timrobson

Ah yes, the old "look in the mirror" cliche. Well.... nope. Just checked, and it's still me in the mirror. I'm a lot better looking too. That bright-red Joker hairdo didn't do anything for him at all.

You still haven't explained how the ideology of the tea party provoked this particular atrocity. You've just served up a load of intellectual flatulence, which I'm sure you thought was clever, about how they hate people. The irony, which is delicious but lost on you because you're obviously too stupid to notice, is that your posts are filled to overflowing with hate. You're basically foaming at the mouth. Clearly you were responsible for this massacre!

Don Monmouth
Don Monmouth

 The only thing that is worthless here is the filth that your little party exudes as a by-product. Must come from doing nothing but sitting on y0ur fat backsides preaching hate. You are useless, and ridiculous. And you need to be held responsible for these types of Massacres, since you exhort so much hate for others. Look in the mirror. Mr Holmes will stare back

Don Monmouth
Don Monmouth

The Colorado and National Tea Parties should be held accountable for the damages, eventual lawsuits and loss of lives. It was one of their "chosen" who did the deed. Now they can pay for it and show what kind of "patriots" they really are...

NaboCane
NaboCane

It's not potpourri, it's a fucking bomb.