April 5, 2013

Documents in the Aurora shooting investigation were unsealed this week, and they show that James Holmes had been reported as a threat to campus police by the psychiatrist who treated him. However, she did not place him on a 72-hour psychiatric hold, according to the Denver Post.

Hindsight is 20/20, of course, and it's good that doctors don't use commitment lightly, but maybe this shooting could have been prevented:

CENTENNIAL — Thirty-eight days before the attack on the Century Aurora 16 movie theater, the psychiatrist treating suspect James Holmes told a police officer that her patient had confessed homicidal thoughts and was a danger to the public, according to newly unsealed court documents in the murder case against Holmes.

The psychiatrist, Dr. Lynne Fenton, also told the officer that Holmes had stopped seeing her and had been threatening her in text messages and e-mails, the documents state. The officer, Lynn Whitten, responded by deactivating Holmes' key-card access to secure areas of University of Colorado medical campus buildings, according to search warrant affidavits.

But the documents don't reveal what — if anything — campus authorities did to investigate Holmes until 38 days later, when 12 people were dead in the July 20 movie theater shootings, 58 more were injured by gunfire and

Aurora police came to campus to ask questions.

"Dr. Fenton advised (Whitten) that through her contact with James Holmes she was reporting, per her requirement, his danger to the public due to homicidal statements he had made," one search warrant affidavit states.

[...] For instance, prosecutors have previously revealed that Holmes made threats and had his key-card access cut off. But CU officials have denied that Holmes was banned from campus for making threats, saying instead that his key card was deactivated as part of a normal process when a student withdraws from school — which Holmes was doing at the time of the alleged threats.

Likewise, the affidavits contradict a statement Fenton made when testifying during an earlier hearing in the case. Fenton said she went to police in June with concerns about a patient. But, when asked whether she had ever reported a dangerous patient to police because she was required to by law, Fenton said she hadn't.

A source has told The Denver Post that Holmes told Fenton on June 11 that he fantasized about killing "a lot of people." The affidavits unsealed Thursday say Fenton told Whitten about her concerns on June 12, and Whitten deactivated Holmes' key card on the same day.

But the source told The Post that Fenton declined to order Holmes detained on a 72-hour psychiatric hold. On June 13, Holmes allegedly bought a 100-round magazine for his AR-15-style rifle, adding to a considerable arsenal of weapons and ammunition, according to court records and testimony.

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