Gunshots and plea for help heard in 911 calls from Colorado movie shooting

By Keith Coffman | Reuters

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (Reuters) – A 13-year-old girl caught in last summer’s shooting rampage at a Colorado movie theater was heard frantically pleading for help for two gravely wounded relatives in a tape of her emergency 911 call played in court on Tuesday.

In it, the distraught girl could be heard telling an emergency dispatcher that her 6-year-old cousin, Veronica Moser-Sullivan, and Veronica’s pregnant mother, Ashley Moser, had been struck by gunfire. Veronica was the youngest of the 12 people killed in the attack.

“My two cousins have been shot,” Kaylan Bailey cried, as the dispatcher tried in vain to instruct her on how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The girl is heard telling the dispatcher, “It’s too loud … I can’t hear you.”

The recording was one of two emergency calls played in court during the second day of a preliminary hearing for the accused 25-year-old gunman, James Holmes, in which prosecutors are seeking to persuade a judge they have enough evidence to put him on trial.

The former University of Colorado neuroscience doctoral student is charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder stemming from the July 20 rampage at a midnight screening of the Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises” in the Denver suburb of Aurora.

In addition to the 12 people who died, 58 were wounded by gunfire, and prosecutors have counted a dozen others who suffered some other physical injury. Prosecutors have yet to decide whether they would seek the death penalty.

Should the judge order the case to proceed to trial, legal experts believe Holmes will plead not guilty by reason of insanity. His lawyers have said he suffers from an unspecified mental illness and are expected to call witnesses later this week to testify about his state of mind.

During cross-examination on Tuesday, defense lawyers sought to draw attention to Holmes’ erratic behavior while in custody.

Homicide detective Craig Appel acknowledged that during an initial interrogation at police headquarters, Holmes tried to insert a staple he found on a desktop into an electrical outlet.

During that interview, in which Holmes had plastic bags placed over his hands to preserve any traces of gunpowder residue, Holmes gestured with one of the bags as if it were a talking hand puppet, Appel testified.

Asked why blood samples were not taken of Holmes following his arrest, Appel added, “I saw no indication that he was under the influence of anything.”

Holmes, now with a full beard, sat quiet and expressionless at the defense table on Tuesday, shackled and dressed in red prison garb, as he has at previous hearings.