FBI: James Holmes' booby-trap used remote-control car, frying pan
By NBC News
By Tracy Connor, NBC News
CENTENNIAL, CO (NBC) -- James Holmes used a thermos, frying pan, remote-control car and volatile chemicals to booby-trap his apartment to blow up after the Aurora theater massacre, an FBI agent testified Tuesday.
On the stand for a preliminary hearing, bomb technician Garret Gumbinner described the diabolical contraptions authorities found when they went to the grad-school dropout's Colorado apartment.
There was a trip-wire leading from the door to a thermos filled with glycerine that was perched over a frying pan filled with potassium permanganate, Gumbinner said.
On top of the fridge was a remote-controlled "pyrotechnic" box filled with 6-inch fireworks shells. Holmes left the remote for it outside, in a trash bag with a toy car and a boom box set to start playing music in 49 minutes, the agent said.
His hope was that someone would hear the music, open the bag, decide to play with the car, fiddle with the remote and detonate the explosives, Gumbinner said.
"He said he rigged his apartment to explode or catch fire in order to divert police resources to his apartment," Gumbinner said, recounting his interview with Holmes.
In all, there were more than a dozen explosive devices in his apartment loaded with napalm, smokeless powder and live ammunition. Carpets were soaked with oil and gasoline, presumably to fuel any blast.
His computer was set to play loud music at a designated time. He was hoping "someone would call the police and that the police would respond to his apartment," Gumbinner said.
Instead, when Holmes was arrested outside the theater, he quickly told police about the trap he set and the bomb squad sent in a robot to investigate.
Between May and July, had Holmes purchased four guns – two handguns, a shotgun and a rifle – and 6,200 rounds of ammunition, an agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms testified.
A defense lawyer asked the agent if there is any process in place to prevent a "severely mentally ill person" from buying guns and ammo – another sign that Holmes may eventually plead not guilty by reason of insanity.
The details were revealed during the second day of a hearing that will determine if there is enough evidence to try Holmes for the July 20 massacre at a midnight screening of the Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises."
Victims' families were emotional as they heard two 911 calls from the theater as the chaos unfolded – including one in which 33 shots could be heard in 27 seconds.
The second was a 4-minute call by a 13-year-old cousin of Veronica Moser-Sullivan, the 6-year-old girl killed during the rampage.
"Who's been shot?" the dispatcher asked.
"My two cousins," the teen said, referring to Veronica and her mother, Ashley Moser, who survived but is paralyzed. "On the floor…not breathing."
The 911 operator tried to talk her through CPR, but it was too loud in the theater for her to follow.
"Help me!" she shouted a few times.
As the recording was played, Veronica's father, Ian Sullivan, wept with his eyes closed.
Courtesy the family via KUSA
Veronica Moser-Sullivan, in an undated family photo.
On Monday, police revealed that Holmes bought his ticket to the opening-night show 12 days before he showed up in body armor with rifles and tear-gas canisters.
Officers also testified about the carnage they found after the attack and their desperate efforts to save victims.
"I didn't want anyone else to die," Officer Justin Grizzle said of the four trips he made to the hospital, which left his patrol car awash in blood.
Officers also testified about Holmes' bizarre demeanor when they grabbed him next to a car in the theater parking lot.
"He seemed very detached from it all," Officer Jason Oviatt of the Aurora, Colo., Police Department said.