Police: Colo. shooter James Holmes set up elaborate bomb in apartment as distraction

Colo. shooting suspect's home filled with explosives
Police say 24-year old James Holmes also booby-trapped his apartment with explosives. His building and several others were evacuated. John Miller reports.

(CBS News) The police say there was more to James Holmes' plot than the attack at an Aurora, Colo. movie theater that killed at least 12. His apartment building has been evacuated.

According to police sources, the same suspect who would not tell police a motive for the shooting did tell them that if they went to his apartment they might find explosives. Holmes didn't mention it was a trap.

After arresting Holmes, police went to his residence. But they moved cautiously, and that may have saved some lives. Standing on top of an armored vehicle, a SWAT Team member held a camera at the end of a pole. He saw a sophisticated booby-trap set to kill anyone coming through the front door.

"There appear to be incendiary devices," Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said. "There are chemical elements. There are all kinds of wires."

Investigators now believe that Holmes used a timer to set off loud techno music at the apartment just before midnight. It was meant to spur a noise complaint to police. The ruse theoretically would have drawn them into the apartment building, detonating a firebomb and then drawing all available police and rescue units to the other side of town before the shooting at the theater started. That would have allowed him more time to kill more people and left a much smaller police response to the theater shootings.

"This is someone who is engaged in predatory, thought provoking, very well planned out behavior," former FBI profiler Mary Ellen O'Toole told CBS News.

For all that planning, all that thinking about how to kill and all those questions that have been raised, police said Holmes isn't talking.

"Based on his behavior and based on planning that went into it, that he very likely is sitting back enjoying impact of the crime," O'Toole said. "And that really is pretty unnerving when you think about that."

Police and FBI bomb technicians are still trying to figure out how to safely disarm the fire bomb in the apartment. So far they're stymied. They're talking about the possibility of setting it off on purpose and then having the fire department -- which is standing by -- extinguish the blaze. Only after that can they go in and search for evidence.

  • John Miller
    John Miller

    John Miller is a senior correspondent for CBS News, with extensive experience in intelligence, law enforcement and journalism, including stints in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the FBI.