Families of theater shooting victims plan goodbyes

By P. Solomon Banda

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, July 24 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Tom Teves, left, with wife Caren Teves, speaks about their son Alex Teves, at the Arapahoe County Courthouse, Monday, July 23, 2012, in Centennial, Colo. Alex Teves was one of the 12 people killed in the shooting attack early Friday at an Aurora, Colo., theater during a showing of the Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises."

Alex Brandon, Associated Press

CENTENNIAL, Colo. — With their anger and tears stirred by the sight of James Holmes in a courtroom with red hair and glassy eyes, the families of those killed in the Colorado theater massacre now must go home to plan their final goodbyes.

Tom Teves' stare bore into Holmes as the 24-year-old former graduate student sat as though in a daze during his court appearance Monday. Teves' son was one of the 12 people Holmes is accused of killing after Alex Teves dove to protect his girlfriend in the shooting early Friday.

Another 58 were wounded, including seven critically, when a gunman opened fire at a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" in nearby Aurora.

The father called the red-and-orange-haired object of his anger "a coward" for allegedly mowing down defenseless victims, including a girl.

"Somebody had to be in the courtroom to say, 'You know what? You went in with ballistic protection and guns, and you shot a 6-year-old,'" he said. "And then when the cops came, you gave up? You've got the ballistic protection on. Take on some guys who know how to use guns."

That anger spilled out when the world got its first view of Holmes, shuffling into court in a maroon jailhouse jumpsuit. Relatives of the shooting victims leaned forward in their seats. Two women held hands tightly, one shook her head. One woman's eyes welled up with tears.

Robert Blache watched video clips from the 12-minute court appearance with his injured daughter Christina, who was shot in both legs during the rampage, and questioned Holmes' sanity.

"He doesn't look surprised at any of it, but he seemed amazed at what was happening. I'm pretty sure he's not sane," Blache said.

To Dr. Jeffrey Gardere, an assistant professor of behavioral medicine at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, Holmes looked like "a person who's been through an emotional maelstrom and therefore might be totally wiped out emotionally."

Gardere said there could be "a psychotic process going on, and we see that being acted out there. Or, there might be some sort of malingering going on. In other words, trying to make himself look worse than he actually is. Or maybe a combination of all of those things."

After Holmes was led in handcuffs to the solitary confinement cell where he'd been held since Friday, the families of the dead were left to plan the next steps that they must take.

"We have people from out of town, and some of them need to go home and arrange funerals," said Boulder Police Department information officer Kim Kobel.

A full military funeral and burial was planned Aug. 3 in Reno, Nev., for Jonathan Blunk, a 26-year-old victim who served three tours in the Middle East and planned to re-enlist with the goal of becoming a Navy SEAL.

A service for A.J. Boik, an 18-year-old recent high school graduate, also was set for Friday in Aurora. The family has asked that news media stay away from the service.

Holmes is being held on suspicion of first-degree murder, and he could face additional counts of aggravated assault and weapons violations. Holmes has been assigned a public defender.

His prosecution is likely to be a long road. He won't be formally charged until next Monday, and police expect months of working with behavioral analysts and scrutinizing Holmes' relationships to establish a motive. As for a trial, that could take more than a year, said prosecutor Carol Chambers.

Chambers said her office is considering the death penalty, but that a decision will be made in consultation with the victims' families.

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