Around the Nation
3:30 pm
Sun July 22, 2012

After Shooting Rampage, A Community Looks To Heal

Originally published on Sun July 22, 2012 4:33 pm

President Obama is in Aurora, Colo., on Sunday, meeting with the families of the victims of the deadly theater shootings that killed 12 people and injured 58 more. He'll also attend a memorial service and meet briefly with local officials.

Outside the movie theater where Friday's rampage occurred, there's a makeshift memorial at the edge of a hot and dusty lot. There are hundreds of candles and flowers, American flags and signs memorializing the victims.

"It's a sad time, very sad time," said William Cloud, a local professor, who came by to pay his respects.

He called the shootings a black eye on his home state.

"To see this kind of thing happen just runs counter to the appeal of Colorado, the free spirit, the friendliness," he said.

It's hard to find someone here who doesn't have even a small connection to the tragedy. Some friends of Cloud's daughters were in the theater that night but got out. The theater itself plans to reopen later this week.

A few miles away, glass still litters the alley around suspect James Holmes' apartment building on Paris Street. Bomb squads had to break through windows to defuse the explosives inside. But there are some signs that life is starting to return to normal.

Carolyn Young was getting help from her family unloading groceries and a suitcase of clothes from the back of her station wagon. She was finally able to return to her apartment across the street Sunday after being evacuated early Friday.

"It's been hell," she said. "I have medical needs that I couldn't meet because they made us get out quick, then they let us come back in and only have five minutes to get our stuff."

Authorities say they have defused all the explosives in Holmes' building. Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates says investigators are now focusing on the evidence against the 24-year-old suspect.

"We're building a case to show this was a deliberative process by a very intelligent man who wanted to do this," he said.

Police arrested Holmes shortly after the shooting. He's a former graduate student in the University of Colorado-Denver's neurosciences program. He will be prosecuted by the state of Colorado.

Speaking Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press, Gov. John Hickenlooper said many Coloradans are still trying to process the tragedy.

"It's a human issue in some way," he said. "How are we not able to identify someone like this who's so deeply, deeply disturbed?"

Holmes has his first scheduled court appearance Monday.

Transcript

GUY RAZ, HOST:

It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.

Investigators in Colorado are working to find out more about James Holmes, the gunman suspected of killing 12 people at a movie theater on Friday. President Obama flew to Aurora today to meet with families of victims and some survivors. Worshippers packed churches in the city, and others prepared for a memorial service later this evening. Kirk Siegler of member station KUNZ has the latest from Aurora.

KIRK SIEGLER, BYLINE: Outside the movie theater where the rampage occurred, there's a makeshift memorial at the edge of a hot and dusty lot. There are hundreds of candles and flowers, American flags and signs memorializing the victims.

WILLIAM CLOUD: And it's a sad time, very sad time.

SIEGLER: William Cloud, a local professor, came by to pay his respects. He calls the shootings a black eye on his home state.

CLOUD: And to see this kind of thing happen just runs counter to the appeal of Colorado, you know, the free spirit, the friendliness.

SIEGLER: It's hard to find someone here who doesn't have even a small connection to the tragedy. Some friends of Cloud's daughters were in the theater that night but got out OK. The theater itself plans to reopen later this week. A few miles away, on Paris Street where the suspect James Holmes lived, glass still litters the alley around his apartment building. Bomb squads had to break through windows to defuse the explosives inside. But there are some signs that life here is starting to return to normal.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Here you go, Irene(ph).

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: OK, (unintelligible).

(LAUGHTER)

SIEGLER: Carolyn Young was getting help from her family unloading groceries and a suitcase of clothes from the back of her station wagon. She was finally able to return to her apartment across the street this morning after being evacuated early Friday.

CAROLYN YOUNG: It's been hell. I have medical needs that I couldn't meet because they made us get out quick, then they let us come back in and only have five minutes to get our stuff.

SIEGLER: Authorities say they've now defused all of the explosives in the suspect's building. Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates says investigators are now focusing on the evidence against 24-year-old James Holmes.

CHIEF DAN OATES: We're building a case to show that this was a deliberative process by a very intelligent man who wanted to do this.

SIEGLER: Police arrested Holmes shortly after the shooting. He's a former graduate student in the University of Colorado Denver's neurosciences program. He'll be prosecuted by the state of Colorado. Speaking today on Meet the Press, Governor John Hickenlooper said many Coloradans are still trying to process the tragedy.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "MEET THE PRESS")

GOVERNOR JOHN HICKENLOOPER: It's a human issue in some way. How are we not able to identify someone like this who's so deeply, deeply disturbed?

SIEGLER: Holmes has his first scheduled court appearance tomorrow morning. For NPR News, I'm Kirk Siegler, in Aurora. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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