Police choke up recalling Aurora massacre, killer ‘out of it’

By Jeanie Stokes, AFP

CENTENNIAL, Colorado–Police described grim scenes after the Colorado theater shooting Monday including blood “sloshing” in a car taking victims to hospital, while the gunman was strangely “out of it” when arrested. Officers choked back tears at a preliminary hearing for James Holmes, accused of killing 12 people and injuring at least 58 more at a midnight screening in Aurora, outside Denver, in July.

The evidence emerged at the start of a week-long hearing to decide whether there is enough evidence for a full trial of the 25-year-old. Officer Justin Grizzle, a former paramedic, said he almost slipped over in a “huge amount of blood” as he entered the back entrance to the Century 16 movie theater. Grizzle described how he transported six critically ill victims. “I realized later that as I was slowing to make turns, I could hear blood sloshing in the back of my car,” Grizzle testified, choking as he remembered the night.

Sergeant Gerald Jonsgaard, one of the first officers on the scene, described finding Veronica Moser-Sullivan, who at six became the shooting’s youngest victim, as he entered the theater shortly after midnight on July 20.

“She had been carried down from the top to the front of the theater. I checked for a pulse. She was dead,” he said, voice breaking. A colleague said he felt a pulse, but the child was declared dead on arrival in hospital. Holmes, sporting dark brown hair and a full beard, was led into court in handcuffs at the hearing. Holmes stared straight ahead and talked to no one. Aurora policeman Jason Oviatt told the court how he at first thought Holmes was another officer when he arrived with dozens of other police. Holmes had his hands on the top of a white car at the back of the building, and as Oviatt approached, he realized something was wrong.