On the second day of the pretrial hearing in the Aurora, Colo., mass-shooting case, an FBI agent revealed new details of the explosives that James Eagan Holmes had allegedly set in his apartment to divert police away from the theater, where he, according to the charges, slayed 12 and injured 58 in a bloody July 20 rampage. The traps, FBI bomb technician Garrett Gumbinner explained, were as elaborate as they were deadly, and he demonstrated the degree of carnage that Holmes may have intended.
Gumbinner testified that he set up remote-controlled explosives in his home with the intent of them being tripped by police coming to investigate the scene, setting off the improvised explosive devices, according to reports on the proceedings from the Denver Post. In an interview with police on July 29, Holmes told police that he turned his stereo up to play loudly in order to lure them into the apartment.
The details are chillingly precise: a tripwire was connected to a thermos filled with glycerine, set up to let the chemical spill into a frying pan filled with potassium magnate — which would have in turn ignited. In the aftermath of the shooting, law-enforcement officials said that Holmes had rigged his apartment with more than 30 homemade grenades and 10 gallons of gasoline. Gumbinner said Holmes had filled jars with homemade napalm and thermite, which when ignited can produce a bright and broad flash and sparks.
The testimony was part of the second day of hearing in which Holmes, 24, appeared in the Centennial, Colo., courtroom of Arapahoe County District Judge William Sylvester, who will decide based on this week’s evidence whether the former neuroscience doctoral student is competent to stand trial. Holmes remains held without bond and is charged with 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and various other crimes.
During Tuesday’s proceedings, 911 recordings were played for the court. The first call came in 18 minutes into the showing of The Dark Knight Rises at the Century 16 megaplex theater. The courtroom heard the cousin of 6-year-old Veronica Moser-Sullivan, the youngest of the victims, trying to get CPR instructions from the 911 dispatcher in an effort to save Moser-Sullivan’s life. The call, police say, lasted 27 seconds and gunshots can be heard all through.
During Monday’s testimony, a surveillance video was screened, which shows Holmes calmly walking through the theater lobby toward the auditorium where the film was screened. He also printed out his ticket to the Batman sequel, which he had purchased online two weeks prior.
Testimony is expected to continue through Friday, at which time Sylvester will decide if Holmes will stand trial.
— With reporting from the Associated Press