Aurora Batman shooting: Shooter was all American boy, recently struggling for work
HE WAS, said his former university chancellor, “the top of the top”. Indeed, the portrait of 24-year-old James Holmes that has emerged since he was arrested on Friday, is of a bright, shy, clean-cut young man who was always polite.
Speaking from his home in Carmel, northern California, his uncle, also called James Holmes, described his nephew as “an unassuming kid” and a “nerd”, who friends and family members knew as “Jimmy”.
Raised by his parents Arlene, a nurse, and software company manager, Robert, in a well-to-do neighbourhood of San Diego, he was a tall, dark-haired teenager who played football at Westview High and also ran cross-country.
A neighbour in San Diego, Tom Mai, recalled: “He was a quiet guy, very nice … I’d see him washing the car for his parents, he was a typical American boy.
“We shared Christmas with the family one year and he served cookies to my children. He was a good guy.”
Sumit Shah, a schoolfriend, said: “He was pretty shy but once he got comfortable with you, he was the funniest, smartest guy. He always had something witty to say”.
But it was in academic life that Holmes excelled, graduating with the highest honours available in spring 2010 with a neuroscience degree from the University of California, Riverside. He focused his study on “how we all behave,” his chancellor at Riverside, Timothy White, said. “It’s ironic and sad.”
Last year, after difficulty finding a job after graduation, he enrolled in a neuroscience doctorate programme at the University of Colorado-Denver.
But he was in the process of withdrawing from the course, for reasons that remain unclear.
Unusually for a 24-year-old in these social media-savvy times, he was mysteriously absent from the internet. James Holmes seems to have had no Facebook page, no Twitter account, or LinkedIn profile. As recently as May, he made a presentation about Micro DNA Biomarkers in a class titled “Biological Basis of Psychiatric and Neurological Disorders”.
Jackie Mitchell, a furniture mover who lives several blocks from Holmes’s apartment in Colorado, said he had drinks with the suspect at a bar on Tuesday night and said he showed no sign of distress or violence.
“We just talked about football. He had a backpack and geeky glasses and seemed like a real intelligent guy,” Mitchell said.
When he saw Holmes’ photograph after the shooting, Mitchell reaction was, he said: “The hair stood up on my back. I know this guy.”
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