Pastor Recalls Colorado Shooting Suspect as Loner; Christians Offer Counseling to Families
The pastor of the Colorado shooting suspect's family church in San Diego, Calif., said all he can recall about the now 24-year-old man is that he was shy and wanted to do well at school.
James Eagen Holmes, the suspect in last Friday's Aurora theater shooting that left 12 killed and at least 58 wounded, would never mingle with others his age at the church, Pastor Jerald Borgie of Penasquitos Lutheran Church told The Associated Press.
Holmes never initiated a conversation with the pastor, and whenever the two talked it was due to the latter's initiative. Borgie also recalled that Holmes was proud of his academic ability but didn't brag about it.
The Holmes family has belonged to the church for about 10 years but the pastor last spoke to Holmes about six years ago.
Borgie's church prayed for both the victims and the Holmes family during the Sunday worship service.
Meanwhile, another pastor from a church in the nearby city of Littleton, who survived a massacre at Columbine High School in that city 13 years ago, offered help to the families of the Aurora shooting victims.
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Josh Weidmann was a high school junior during the Columbine shooting, and it offered him lessons he is drawing on today as a pastor at Aurora's Elevation Church. "The main way I help people deal with the anger is telling them you have to live through that anger but you just can't stay there," Wiedmann told CBS News on Sunday.
The 12 people killed in the senseless shooting at the Century Aurora 16 theater early Friday include a six-year-old girl, a young man celebrating his 27th birthday and an aspiring sportscaster who had barely escaped a shooting in a Toronto mall earlier this summer. The theater was showing "The Dark Knight Rises" when the suspect opened fire.
Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan has said six victims are still in critical condition, and that the death toll may rise.
The Billy Graham Response Team has sent chaplains to offer counseling in the wake of the tragedy.
"Words can't begin to describe the pain of this situation," said the team's director, Jack Munday. "We are grieving alongside the families of those killed and wounded in this senseless and horrific tragedy. Please pray for all of those who have been affected. We will be there to offer emotional and spiritual care, and the hope and compassion of Jesus Christ, in the aftermath."
Police say Holmes used a military-style semi-automatic rifle, a shotgun and a pistol to open fire on the unsuspecting theatergoers. He was arrested soon after the shooting. He told police he was the Joker, a reference to one of the most prominent villains in the Batman canon.
Holmes, a graduate from the University of California, Riverside, was a brilliant neuroscience student. His mother Arlene is a nurse and his father Robert a software company manager. He enrolled in a neuroscience Ph.D. program at the University of Colorado-Denver last year but quit in June.
Police have not yet said anything about the motive of the killings. Holmes is appearing in court for the first time on Monday.