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James Holmes Update: Colo. shooting suspect's psychiatrist warned of threat before attack, documents say

AP

James Holmes sits in the courtroom during his arraignment in Centennial, Colo. on March 12, 2013
AP Photo/Denver Post, RJ Sangosti, Pool

(CBS/AP) CENTENNIAL, Colo. - A psychiatrist who treated James Holmes told campus police a month before the Colorado theater attack that Holmes had homicidal thoughts and was a danger to the public, according to documents released Thursday.

Pictures: The Colorado massacre suspect

Dr. Lynne Fenton, a psychiatrist at the University of Colorado, Denver, told police in June that the shooting suspect also threatened and intimidated her. It was more than a month before the July 20 attack at a movie theater that killed 12 and injured 70.

In the days after the attack, campus police said they had never had contact with Holmes, who was a graduate student at the university.

But campus police Officer Lynn Whitten told investigators after the shooting that Fenton had contacted her. Whitten said Fenton was following her legal requirement to report threats to authorities, according to a search warrant affidavit.

"Dr. Fenton advised that through her contact with James Holmes she was reporting, per her requirement, his danger to the public due to homicidal statements he had made," the affidavit said.

Whitten added that Fenton said she began to receive threatening text messages from Holmes after he stopped seeing her for counseling, the documents said.

It was not clear if Fenton's blunt warning about Holmes reached other university officials. Whitten told investigators she deactivated Holmes' university access card after hearing from Fenton, but the affidavit did not say what other action she took.

Holmes had enrolled in the university's Ph.D. neuroscience program in 2011 but resigned about six weeks before the shootings after failing a key examination.

When prosecutors previously said in court that the university had banned Holmes from campus, university officials denied that. They said Holmes' access card had been deactivated because he had left the neuroscience program.

That statement could not immediately be reconciled with Whitten's statement in the affidavit that she deactivated Holmes' access card because of the psychiatrist's concerns.

The indication that Fenton had called Holmes a danger to the public gave momentum to Democratic state lawmakers' plans to introduce legislation to further restrict mentally ill people from buying guns. State Rep. Beth McCann initially cited the information Thursday as a reason she would introduce a bill as soon as Friday, but quickly backed off and said no date has been set.

The theater massacre already helped inspire a new state ban on large-capacity firearm magazines.

Prosecutors have suggested Holmes was angry at the failure of a once promising academic career, and had stockpiled weapons, ammunition, tear gas grenades and body armor. Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Pearson said Holmes failed a key oral exam in June, was banned from campus and began to voluntarily withdraw from the school.

Holmes last week offered to plead guilty in the attacks. Prosecutors rejected that offer and announced Monday they would seek the death penalty.

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  • Crimesider Staff

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