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FILE - In this July 27, 2012, file photo, crosses are displayed in honor of the victims of the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting, which killed 12 people and injured 70. James Holmes was convicted of murder and attempted murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole for the shootings. In a new book and an interview with The Associated Press, psychiatrist William H. Reid, who spent hours talking with Holmes, says what led Holmes to open fire was a vortex of his mental illness, his personality and his circumstances, along with other, unknown factors. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Psychiatrist: Society may never know why James Holmes opened fired inside Colorado theater

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A psychiatrist who spent hours talking with mass murderer James Holmes says that what led Holmes to open fire in a crowded Colorado movie theater was a one-of-a-kind vortex of his mental illness, his personality and his circumstances — and some other, unknown currents that will probably never be uncovered. “A big part of it is, it’s hidden in Holmes…

A psychiatrist who spent hours talking with mass murderer James Holmes says that what led Holmes to open fire in a crowded Colorado movie theater was a one-of-a-kind vortex of his mental illness, his personality and his circumstances — and some other, unknown currents that will probably never be uncovered.
“A big part of it is, it’s hidden in Holmes’ mind, and he can’t see it either,” William H. Reid said in an interview with The Associated Press about his new book, “A Dark Night in Aurora: Inside James Holmes and the Colorado Mass Shootings.”
Holmes killed 12 people and wounded 58 when he opened fire during a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises,” a Batman movie, in the Denver suburb of Aurora on July 20, 2012. Twelve other people were injured in the scramble to escape.
He was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Reid was one of two court-appointed psychiatrists who evaluated Holmes’ mental health before the trial. Reid spent a total of 24 hours interviewing Holmes in July and August 2014, two years after the massacre. Reid also reviewed 80,000 to 85,000 pages of documents provided by prosecutors, the defense and law enforcement.
In the book, Reid acknowledges that readers will want to know what led Holmes to commit mass murder, and he predicts they won’t be happy with his conclusion.
“The answer — and this really is the answer, but it’s not very satisfying — lies in an unimaginably detailed and complex confluence that we can’t replicate because we can’t see all of it,” he writes.
In his interview with the AP, Reid listed the factors that can be seen:
— Holmes’ mental illness, and the way it influenced his behavior.
— The way Holmes’ personality shaped his awkward interactions with other people and influenced his view of the world.
— The ups and downs of Holmes’ life as he struggled in neuroscience graduate school at the University of Colorado in Denver and broke up with his girlfriend.
The other factors are unknown, Reid said, “because no one knows his entire social and genetic and biological life.”
Reid said society will likely never have a comprehensive understanding of what led Holmes to commit murder.
“He’s unique,” Reid said. “The answers are not going to come, at least not in any of our lifetimes.”
Reid’s book is a chronology of Holmes’ life, from his relatively uneventful childhood through the murders, the trial and Holmes’ conviction and sentencing. Reid said he relied on the court records, including his videotaped interviews with Holmes, which were shown to jurors during the trial.
The book includes a handful of previously unknown facts, the most startling of which is that Holmes suggested to Reid in one of their videotaped interviews that he might kill again if given a chance.
Reid asked Holmes if jail guards should be worried about that, and Holmes replied, “Um, I’d say so, yeah.”
That exchange wasn’t shown to the jury because the defense said it could be prejudicial, and the judge agreed, Reid wrote. But Reid told the AP he doubted Holmes was a serious threat to other prisoners.
The book also offers a glimpse of the extraordinary step…
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