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Colorado shooting suspect was brilliant science student

  • This photo provided by the University of Colorado shows James Holmes. University spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery says 24-year-old Holmes, who police say is the suspect in a mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater, was studying neuroscience in a Ph.D. program at the University of Colorado-Denver graduate school. Holmes is suspected of shooting into a crowd at a movie theater killing at least 12 people and injuring dozens more, authorities said. (AP Photo/University of Colorado)

DENVER — James Eagen Holmes came from a well-tended San Diego enclave of two-story homes with red-tiled roofs, where neighbors recall him as a clean-cut, studious young man of sparing words.

Tall and dark-haired, he stared clear-eyed at the camera in a 2004 high school yearbook snapshot, wearing a white junior varsity soccer uniform — No. 16. The son of a nurse, Arlene, and a software company manager, Robert, James Holmes was a brilliant science scholar in college.

The biggest mystery surrounding the 24-year-old doctoral student was why he would have pulled on a gas mask and shot dozens of people early Friday in a suburban Denver movie theater, as police allege.

In the age of widespread social media, no trace of Holmes could be found on Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter or anywhere on the Web. Either he never engaged or he scrubbed his trail.

A longtime neighbor in San Diego, where Holmes grew up, remembers only a "shy guy ... a loner" from a churchgoing family. In addition to playing soccer at Westview High School, he ran cross country.


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