It took days for authorities to disarm his home.
Here, they remove one of the homemade
incendiary devices he had created.
James Holmes is the man who walked into a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado in July 2012 and murdered 12 people and injured 58 others during a midnight showing of the Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises.
He also rigged his apartment with deceptive booby-traps so that authorities would be diverted away from the theater.
Mr. Holmes’ elaborate preparations seem like they’re the exaggerated boastings of a wise-ass adolescent with a love of Rube-Goldberg-like machinery and a cursory knowledge of The Anarchist’s Cookbook, except that in his case he actually built them and intended them to kill.
Inside his apartment, Mr. Holmes had set up his computer to play loud music, timed to go off around midnight.
He hoped that the music would blare loudly enough to attract attention from his neighbors, and someone would try to enter his place.
The apartment door was attached to fishing line, which was in turn attached to a thermos full of glycerine. When the thermos toppled over, it was set to fall into a frying pan filled with potassium permanganate.
When combined with glycerin, potassium permanganate reacts violently and bursts into flames.
Mr. Holmes had soaked his carpeting with oil and gasoline, and planned on the flames igniting the carpet.
He had placed a dozen containers with fuses coming out of them around his apartment. They were supposed to be lit by the flames.
Some jars contained smokeless gunpowder, which, if packed loosely would create a puff of smoke, or, if packed tightly, would explode.
Others were filled with thermite, a mixture of powdered aluminum and iron oxide (or rust), which is easily made at home. Once ignited, thermite reaches temperatures over 4000° F.
Mr. Holmes also filled containers with a mixture of homemade napalm mixed with bullets. He had plenty of bullets left over even though he brought many rounds with him to the theater. He had purchased over 6,000 rounds online.
Near the front door, he sprinkled ammonium chloride powder, which is used to create a white smoke in fireworks. He hoped it would create a smokescreen to confuse the police.
In case nobody tried to open his door, he also had a secondary ignition system that depended on a remote-controlled car and a boombox sitting inside a bag by a trash Dumpster outside his apartment.
His ingenious plan depended on his knowledge of human nature.
The boombox, set with a timer, was going to play music forty minutes after he left. The music would attract attention and someone would pick up the remote and try to play with the toy car.
The car remote was actually a remote that controlled a pyrotechnic firing box on top of the refrigerator inside his apartment. The box was going to ignite a quantity of 6-inch fireworks shells.
Even though the music went off as planned, nobody tried to enter his apartment or attempted to play with his toy car.
When he was caught outside the movie theater, he immediately told police about all the traps in his apartment.
As of the first weeks of 2013, it’s still not clear if James Holmes will be found to be seriously mentally ill.
– James Holmes preliminary hearing: FBI agent describes explosive systems set up in Holmes’ apartment – The Denver Post>>
– FBI: James Holmes’ booby-trap used remote-control car, frying pan, NBC News>>