Officer in Tears Describing Colorado Theater Massacre Scene

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Centennial, Colorado (CNN) — So much blood the theater floor had become slippery. Bodies with horrific injuries. The eerie sound of cell phones ringing, over and over again.

This is the scene Aurora police Officer Justin Grizzle said he encountered moments after entering the theater where, according to authorities, 25-year-old James Holmes killed 12 people in a July 20 shooting rampage.

Grizzle testified Monday on the opening day of the preliminary hearing for Holmes, who is charged with 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and weapons charges.

The 13-year veteran wiped away tears while describing his efforts to rush badly wounded victims to the hospital in his police cruiser, including shooting victim Ashley Moser and her husband, who wanted Grizzle to turn around and head back to the theater.

“He was shot in the head somewhere. He kept asking where his … daughter was,” Grizzle said. “He opened the door and tried to jump out.”

Grizzle said he had to drive and hold the man by his shoulder to keep him in the car.

The girl the man was seeking, 6-year-old Veronica Moser-Sullivan, was shot four times and was among those killed in the shooting at a midnight showing of “Batman: The Dark Knight Rises.” Veronica’s mother, Ashley, faces a long recovery after being paralyzed in her lower half and miscarrying after the shooting.

aurora-picThe scene was still gruesome when Detective Matthew Ingui arrived 12 hours later with other investigators.

“We saw the first victim laying on the ground,” he said “There’s shoes, blood, body tissue and popcorn on the floor.”

Blood was everywhere, he said.

Ingui described how he outlined each of the victims and marked where the bodies were found. Holmes had no visible reaction during the testimony.

The detective said investigators found 209 live rounds of .223 ammunition and 15 cartridges of .40-caliber rounds inside the auditorium.

The preliminary hearing that began Monday is designed to show a judge that the state has enough evidence to proceed to trial. Prosecutors are calling scores of witnesses and outlining their evidence in the case. The hearing could go on for days.

A gag order imposed by the judge in the case has limited the flow of information about the attack. However, a source said Holmes allegedly went out a rear exit door, propped it open and gathered his weapons. He then returned to the theater and tossed a canister inside before opening fire, the source said.

Screaming moviegoers scrambled to escape from the gunman, who shot at random as he walked up the theater’s steps, according to witnesses.

It was a scene “straight out of a horror film,” said Chris Ramos, who was inside the theater.

While none of the four law enforcement witnesses who testified Monday offered insight into a possible motive for the shooting, some new details emerged.

Prosecutors showed surveillance camera video taken inside the theater complex that they said shows Holmes — dressed in dark trousers, a light-colored shirt with a T-shirt underneath and a ski cap covering his hair — using a cell phone at a ticket kiosk. Holmes printed out a ticket that had been purchased July 8, they said.

The cameras also captured the aftermath of the shooting as waves of people ran out of doors with theater staff behind counters. One employee even leaped over a counter.

There was no video from inside the auditorium where the shootings occurred.

Police Sgt. Gerald Jonsgaard said Holmes stopped the theater door from locking by using a small piece of plastic commonly used to hold tablecloths onto a picnic table. Jonsgaard also said he spotted a shotgun and a large drum magazine that appeared to be jammed on the floor of the theater.

Holmes’ attorneys are expected to argue that their client has “diminished capacity,” a term that, according to the Colorado Bar Association, relates to a person’s ability or inability “to make adequately considered decisions” regarding his or her legal representation because of “mental impairment or for some other reason.”

Several times, on cross-examination, they have asked witnesses about Holmes’ demeanor and what he looked like when police found him.

The day’s testimony concluded with a detective who interviewed people wounded in the attack and the two coroners who conducted the 12 autopsies.

After the hearing, Arapahoe County District Judge William Sylvester will determine whether there is enough evidence for Holmes to stand trial.

Security was tight at the hearing. Spectators had to pass through a metal detector and then were searched again before entering the courtroom. At least nine armed officers stood guard inside, some of them scanning the audience packed with reporters and victims’ family members.

Holmes did not speak during the hearing. His bushy hair and long beard contrasted with the bright red hair and close-cropped looks he sported during previous appearances.

During portions of the hearing, family members of victims held one another, sobbing.

Earlier in Monday’s hearing, police Officer Jason Oviatt — the first officer to encounter Holmes after the rampage ended — testified that Holmes seemed “very, very relaxed.”

Holmes, his pupils dilated, sweating and smelly, didn’t struggle or even tense his muscles as he was dragged away to be searched.

“He seemed very detached from it all,” Oviatt testified, describing Holmes as unnaturally calm amid the chaos and carnage.

Oviatt testified Monday that within minutes of the first calls, he responded to the theater and found Holmes standing outside in a helmet and gas mask, his hands atop a white coupe that turned out to belong to him.

At first, Oviatt said, he thought Holmes was a police officer, but as he drew within 20 feet, he realized something was terribly wrong.

“He was just standing there. All the other officers were running around, trying to get into the theater,” Oviatt said.

A trail of blood led from the theater. The rifle that authorities believe Holmes used in the attack lay on the ground near the building.

Holmes calmly complied with all Oviatt’s orders, the officer testified.

Another officer, Aaron Blue, testified later that Holmes matter-of-factly told him, without prompting, about the complex web of explosives that authorities would later find in his Aurora apartment.

He told Blue that the devices “wouldn’t go off unless we set them off.”

Holmes was a doctoral student in the neuroscience program at the Anschutz Medical Campus of the University of Colorado, Denver, in Aurora, until he withdrew a month before being arrested outside the bullet-riddled movie theater. He had been a patient of a University of Colorado psychiatrist, according to a court document filed by his lawyers.

His only brush with the law in Colorado appears to have been a 2011 summons for speeding from Aurora police.

If Holmes is ruled incompetent to stand trial, the hearing could provide the best opportunity for victims and the public to understand what happened and why.

To at least one victim, it doesn’t matter if Holmes stands trial.

“I obviously don’t want him to walk, but as long as he doesn’t see the light of day again, it doesn’t really much concern me beyond that,” said Stephen Barton, who suffered wounds on his face, neck and upper torso in the shooting that night. “To me, I see the trial as being an opportunity to learn more about what happened that night beyond just my own personal recollection.”

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        • Roger

          And the law abiding citizens that understood that weren't sitting in a theatre that didn't allow it.

          So, our justice system will have to deal with the results.

          • WTE

            Which is why places like this need to wake up and realize criminals don't obey laws so it might be a good idea to let armed law abiding citizens into their establishments. It could save lives.

          • Roger

            There were other theatres, people voted with their wallets. But I don't blame victims, I blame the criminal and the courst will deal with him now.

          • Ricky Michael

            FYI, Colorado is an open carry state. Firearms can be displayed visibly on your person. My son-in-law who lived in Co. at the time, a week after this shooting went into another theater showing the Batman movie. There where twelve people in there, each wearing a firearm.

            There were no reports of injury during the showing, everyone of them returned home just fine.

          • WTE

            I know. I have many relatives out there. In this partical thatre they had a no guns allowed policy. My guess is that is why he targeted it. He knew no one would be able to stop him.

          • Ricky Michael

            Most likely, that is exactly why he chose this target. The signs are just perfect little advertisements for where to go for a turkey shoot. I find the theater at fault for not at least having an armed guard on hand to instantly deal with this kind of thing, since they had their sign posted. What protocols did they have in place to safeguard the public? I suspect that lawsuits will crop up over what I am talking about here, and they are probly not going to be covered by the liberal media either.

          • WTE

            I don't know. Could be trail errors and he could be realeased or he can kill more inmates in prison.

            Can you answer how many lives the justice system saved in the theatre?

          • WTE

            I do have trust in the justice system. It is a punishment system for crimes. It does not stop crime and it did not save any lives in the theatre.

            I just went ahead and aswered it for you . I think you are incapable of answering direct questions.

          • Roger

            Law enforcement is another issue entirely, since he is in custody and facing trial it's not the issue and I didn't bring it up for that reason.

            And you're just pushy and full of demands for someone that really doesn't have anything behind him as a poster.

          • WTE

            We were discussing that if their had been an armed law abiding citizen in that theatre he might have saved lives. You started talking about the justice system which is why I asked the question

          • Ricky Michael

            If I were anyone reading this thread, I would suggest that you do not frequent any place that displays a Gun Free Zone sign of any type. Take your business elsewhere, it could save your life some day. (You will only have to read about it instead of duck for cover.)

          • WTE

            Most CCP holders just don't wave their guns around. The ones that do should not have permits. They keep them holstered unless they need to use them to stop a violent criiminal.

          • Roger

            And in this country unlike some sharia states we have free choice where people can go where they want. These people did that and the bad guy deserves the blame for what happened.

          • Ricky Michael

            For some reason I could not get your link to function properly, but I think I already know which one this is about. An off duty police officer shot the gunman before he could shoot anyone.


    This murdering idiot is pretending to be mentally ill. There are so many excuses made for guys like him. They are always considered crazy.; angry yes, crazy no. He is a murdering pig and should definitely pay for his filthy crime.

  • T.R.M..

    hey is this MARK , MUST BE HAVE`NT SEEN ANY OF HIS LAME ASS COMMENTS LATELY , or maybe one of his imbred clown lookin ass cousins, lmao signed THE REAL MEXICAN