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Colo. Shooting Suspect's Family: Hearts Go Out To Victims, Families

James Holmes in a photograph taken by police during his booking.
Arapahoe County Sheriff
James Holmes in a photograph taken by police during his booking.

During two press conferences this afternoon we learned a few more details about James Holmes, the 24-year-old man accused of opening fire at a Colorado movie theater and killing 12.

Lisa Damiani, the attorney for Holmes' family in San Diego, said comments Arlene Holmes, the suspect's mother, made to ABC News have been taken out of context.

Essentially, she said, she was merely confirming that was Arlene Holmes and that James was her son when she said "You have the right person."

She was not implying that she was not surprised to hear her son was alleged to have shot up a theater, as some news outlets reported.

Meanwhile in Aurora, University of Colorado officials said during his time at the neuroscience program, Holmes never had any contact with university police and he dropped out of the selective program suddenly and without explanation.

We live blogged the press conferences as they happened. Keep reading for more details:

Update at 4:25 p.m. ET. Gave No Reason For Dropping Out:

While university officials did not want to give specifics about Holmes, Barry Shur, dean of the graduate school at the University of Colorado Denver's Anschutz Medical Campus, did say that Holmes gave no reason for dropping out. And he did so in early June after a first exam that "evaluates foundational knowledge at the end of the year."

It's no secret, he said, that Holmes "had excellent academic credentials." In fact, the neuroscience program takes about six PhD students a year and all students receive a yearly $26,000 stipend.

He says the admissions process is very selective and it is very rare for a student to drop out in that way.

Don Elliman, university chancellor, said he was confident the institution had handled Holmes well. He would not, however, elaborate on what if anything the university had done.

Update at 4:14 p.m. ET. The Mother's Statement:

Damiani read a statement from Arlene Holmes. She said that on Friday morning she was awoken by a reporter from ABC News. Essentially, she said her statements to that reporter have been taken out of context.

She was merely saying that yes she was Arlene Holmes and that James was her son. She was not implying that she was not surprised to hear her son was alleged to have shot up a theater.

When Damiani was asked if the family stands by Holmes, she said, "Yes, they do. He's their son."

When asked how the family was doing, Damiani said "as well as they can under the circumstances."

Update at 4:03 p.m. ET. Not Discussing Relationship:

Lisa Damiani, the attorney for Holmes' family, said during a press conference in San Diego that the family will not be discussing their relationship with their son.

This "case should be tried in the courthouse not in the media," she said.

The attorney also said that they wanted to reiterate that their "hearts go out to the victims and their family."

Update at 3:30 p.m. ET. No Contact With Campus Police:

Doug Abraham, the campus police chief, says they had no contact with James Holmes. A university official added that Holmes had withdrawn from the school officially, but the university had not finalized that process.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.

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