Testimony continues at the preliminary hearing for accused mass shooting suspect James Holmes as the prosecution presented more evidence to bolster the contention that the defendant carefully planned his attack.
On Tuesday, the court heard testimony from investigators who said that the alleged shooter began planning his deadly rampage weeks in advance. As a stark testimony to the degree of carnage that took place inside the packed theater on July 20, prosecutors played a 911 call from that night. In it authorities said at least 30 shots were recorded within 27 seconds.
Holmes is facing multiple first-degree murder and other charges that resulted from his alleged attack on an Aurora, Colo., movie theater that killed 12 and injured 58.
Since the hearing began on Monday, many new details have been revealed about the shooting and the apparent demeanor of the alleged assailant. Investigators testified that Holmes purchased theater tickets to the premiere of the latest Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises," nearly two weeks in advance. Prosecutors also presented evidence showing that Holmes purchased more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition, handcuffs and body armor online during the days leading up to the shooting.
Additionally, he also purchased an AR15 semiautomatic rifle, a shotgun, two Glock semiautomatic handguns along with materials used to make bombs, according to prosecutors. The AR15 is an assault-style rifle similar to the Bushmaster rifle used by the Sandy Hook Elementary School killer.
Attorneys for Holmes have said that he is mentally ill. The hearing is scheduled to conclude this week. The court will then have to decide whether Holmes will stand trial for his alleged crimes.
During testimony that has been extremely graphic and at times emotional, police and investigators have given accounts of a scene of horrific proportions, rife with destruction and unimaginable suffering as survivors scrambled to escape the deadly hail of gunfire and the severely wounded struggled to escape the scene.
Although it is difficult to grasp the fact that all of this devastation was the work of a lone gunman, it is a grim testament to the destructive capability of these high-powered, high-capacity weapons.
According to the 911 recording, at least 30 rounds were fired in less than 30 seconds. To put this into some kind of perspective, a 30-round magazine is standard military issue. The average service member can fire a complete 30-round magazine on semiautomatic and ready the weapon for firing again in less than one minute. This is also accounting for reload time. The alleged shooter reportedly had a 100-round high-capacity magazine. If 30 rounds were fired in less than 30 seconds this means that had the rifle not purportedly jammed, the shooter could have unleashed the entire magazine in roughly 90 seconds.
So we now see that it is certainly possible to fire this type of weapon rather quickly. However, the fact that the gunman could fire so many times without reloading is what likely caused many casualties. If the weapon had not jammed, I am quite certain there would have been far more casualties.
Right now I'm sure there are those who will quickly point out that the gunman was armed with other weapons as well, especially the shotgun, because anyone experienced with weapons knows that shotguns are devastating in close quarters. However most shotguns, with some exceptions, hold fewer than 10 rounds. Had the suspect only been armed with a shotgun, he would have had to stop to reload. At this point he would have been vulnerable to attack and more importantly, those moments would have allowed more people to escape.
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