As one might expect, some people have offered a "two gunmen" theory of the Batman massacre. Although most sensible bloggers would avoid writing about that scenario, my fondness for the outre made this post inevitable. Please note that one may examine
a theory without endorsing
One researcher looking into the possibility of conspiracy has been a writer named Jon Rappaport. I've followed his career ever since he got some good anti-Reagan material into the L.A. Weekly
back in the 1980s. Since then, alas, he has turned into a YAFAR -- Yet Another Fucking Ayn Randroid. Although Rappaport wouldn't recall the occasion, I met him briefly when the right-wing Conspira-Borg had just begun the process of assimilation. A depressing sight, that was.
Nevertheless, Rappaport's Batman massacre series (here
) may reward study. The most interesting bit concerns a theater patron who tells a story varying from the official version.
Here's Rappaport's summary:
One witness, Corbin Dates (aka Dayton), told Aurora news outlets a man sitting in the front row took a cell phone call and went to a side exit, propped the door open with his foot, and seemed to be signaling somebody. Ten to 15 minutes later, James Holmes appeared in full gear with weapons as the exit door swung open The other witness (no name as yet) stated that, during the massacre, a gas canister was thrown from a direction where Homes wasn’t.
Those words derive from this news broadcast
, which offers an interview with Dates. He seems observant and well-spoken -- an excellent witness.
Most online discussion has presumed that Holmes made
the phone call, and that he somehow managed to prop open the door when he went outside to suit up. Dates says that Holmes received
the call and signaled to someone else.
One could argue, of course, that the darkness and the distraction of the film may have prevented Dates from studying the man's movements carefully. However, this interview
indicates that Dates sat in the second row, not far from Holmes. That's a good vantage point. (This
video contains a computer "re-enactment" which clarifies the geography.)
Dates apparently believes that the person who fired was not the person who took the phone call and gave the signal. In this interview
, he says that the person in the front row got his call during the trailers; the shooting began about twenty minutes into the film. Dates estimated the gunman's height as five feet, nine inches. Holmes is tall: Six feet, three inches. Some readers will consider this discrepancy significant; others will not.
What interests me most is the phone call.
Obviously, the police must have found a cell phone on Holmes' person. Whether the call came in or went out, a record exists. Dates is not the only person testifying that the killer spoke on the phone just before heading to the rear exit door. Why have the police not divulged the name of the other party? Why have authorities and most journalists refused to discuss the phone call?
In the afore-linked video
, we also see a interview with Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates on the topic of a second "person of interest" who, on the second morning after the shooting, aroused a brief but intense media brouhaha. Although Oates does not name this person, many blogs (including Cannonfire
) have identified him as Yeom Pyo Lee. Like Holmes, Lee is a science student at the University of Colorado. The Chief says that the police questioned Lee only because they are interested in anyone who has had contact with the suspect...
"We found him yesterday, we interviewed him, the relationship was really inconsequential, and we're happy that we spoke to him."
This is infuriating.
Oates refuses to address one key point: Initial news reports held that Lee had placed a call threatening violence if Holmes was "not released from jail."
News reports also indicated that Lee used a VOIP service, such as Skype, to avoid being traced.
(How, then, was
he traced? This
story about recent changes to Skype may provide a clue.)
Perhaps the first-day reports were inaccurate. Perhaps Lee never made any kind of threat. If so, why didn't Oates simply say
Instead, the police chief wants us all to pretend that we never read what we read just a few days ago. Oates never explains why someone who didn't know Holmes well would threaten violence on his behalf. What could anyone hope to gain from such a threat? How can someone threaten the cops without facing charges?
I suspect that one day we will have a reasonable explanation for the Lee story, but right now -- well, as I said: Infuriating
For what it's worth, FOX News initially reported that two gunmen
opened fire in the theater.
, who seems quite credible, says that the second canister of tear gas did not come from anywhere near the place where the masked gunman stood. Alas, the available news clip is incomplete and does not reveal the name of the witness.
Frankly, I think the evidence that Holmes had aid is intriguing but hardly conclusive. I remain bothered by the fact that, so far, we have only two witnesses. If Dates is correct, then one would expect more people to come forward to corroborate his testimony.
Contrary to Dates, another witness
has said that the gunman was a tall man who "kicked through the door." Theater doors usually lock from the outside, and the locks are usually set into metal plates. Not easy to kick through.
Some conspiracy theorists
see much in the fact that no eyewitness has identified Holmes as the shooter. True, but we can presume that he was wearing the riot gear when the cops nabbed him.
What bewilders me is why the mass murderer stopped firing. He walked down from the rear (raised) portion of the auditorium -- where he had inflicted the worst of his damage -- returned to the side door and walked outside. He still had plenty of ammo and plenty of victims. What ended it?
Moreover, the gunman concentrated his fire on those trying to exit toward the lobby. It seems as though he fired primarily to keep the crowd in place, much as my dog used to "herd" ducks toward the center of the local pond. But in place for what
If he truly identified with the Joker, he may have believed that the gas would have a more powerful effect than it did. In the comics, the Joker uses a gas which causes people to die smiling. As far as I know, such a toxin exists only in fiction.)
I'm not in the conspiracy camp -- yet. But like it or not, writers like Rappaport have made some reasonable points.
In particular, I'd like to know more about that cell phone call.
More to come. Next, we'll look at Holmes' family.