News Column

Expert Describes Holmes' Booby Traps

Jan 10, 2013

By Gary Strauss

James Holmes

An FBI bomb technician testified Tuesday that mass murder suspect James Holmes rigged his apartment with homemade bombs that would decimate his apartment building and create a diversion from shootings at a movie theater in Aurora.

Garrett Gumbinner, in the second day of a preliminary hearing, said Holmes rigged the front door with fishing line tied to a thermos bottle filled with glycerin. When the door opened, it would knock over the thermos, spilling the glycerin into a pan filled with potassium permanganate. The chemical reaction could have caused a massive explosion or a fire.

Investigators also found jars of homemade napalm, thermite and other explosive devices strewn about the living room. Gumbinner said that the carpeting in Holmes' apartment had also been soaked in gasoline and oil, which would have intensified the carnage.

Gumbinner said Holmes planned to use a remote-controlled device to set off the explosion.

Authorities conducted a controlled detonation at his apartment and used a robot driven by a bomb technician to methodically disable the explosive devices.

The preliminary hearing is to determine whether there is enough evidence to try Holmes on more than 160 counts of murder and attempted murder. Holmes is alleged to have killed 12 and wounded 58 during the theater shooting July 20. Several other moviegoers were also injured as they attempted to flee the theater or suffered injuries from a tear gas grenade Holmes allegedly threw into the theater.

Tuesday's testimony came as the prosecution introduced the last of its witnesses. Detective Craig Apple testified that 76 spent shells and shotgun shells were found in the theater, 65 from an assault rifle.

Earlier in the hearing Tuesday, witnesses testified about some of the chilling 911 calls that came from the theater as the shooting began.

The first call to police played in court came from inside the theater from Kevin Quinonez at 12:38 a.m. Hansen said during the 27-second call he heard at least 30 gunshots. The call came in 18 minutes into the showing of The Dark Knight Rises.

Police also played a 911 call from a teenage cousin of 6-year-old Veronica Moser-Sullivan, the youngest person killed.

Screams could be heard in the background as the dispatcher tried to talk her through CPR. She sobbed and said she couldn't hear and couldn't do it.

Source: Copyright USA TODAY 2013

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