Thursday, July 26, 2012

The inevitable Batman killer conspiracy post

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 it.

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, here, here and here) may reward study. The most interesting bit concerns a theater patron who tells a story varying from the official version.

Corbin Dates. 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.

Who called? 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?
Lee. 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 that?

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.

Other indicators. For what it's worth, FOX News initially reported that two gunmen opened fire in the theater.

This witness, 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?

(Update: 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.


Dwight said...

Come in to the conspiracy parlor, Joseph. Relax. Have a factory-sealed drink. Ignore those geeky guys on the sofa. Is it chilly in here? Turn up the Tesla free energy heater, Boris. Well, have you tried kicking it? Keep your voice down. The Masons are listening. No, that 'CIA Checks Cashed Free' sign doesn't mean a thing.
Now then, whatever your concern, I can tell you that it's true. It's all true. Awful, isn't it?

stickler said...

If I were investigating this crime, I would not release any info. either.

What this case needs is a thorough, competent investigation, without a lot of uninformed speculation from curious bystanders.

prowlerzee said...

Typo alert: an errant apostrophe in "bewilders."

Regarding why Holmes stopped shooting...the reports I've heard/read indicate "many more might have died had his gun not jammed."

As far as why he might've stopped shooting. Maybe he fell into some sort of shock...don't forget he told the police his apartment was booby-trapped. He could've just let them enter as he originally intended.

Joseph Cannon said...

Zee: I've corrected the typo and fixed a couple of other things. You're right about the gun jamming; I'm told that large magazines are more prone to being jammed. But he had more than one weapon.

Stickler: To an extent you are right. But...well, take the thing with Lee. That had already given rise to a huge media firestorm, and you can't re-tube the toothpaste. Yes, I think that Oates did owe the public an explanation that made sense and did not require us to forget all that we had read.

And we really do deserve at least a few words about the cell phone call.

Aeryl said...


The apartment was booby trapped to distract police before he started his rampage. He apparently turned the volume up on his stereo in the hopes his neighbors would call the police and the bomb would detonate when they came to check it out.

Since his tolerant neighbors never called the police, the diversion never happened.

I don't know what his motivations for telling them after the fact, but probably was smart enough to know that when you are in a hole, you stop digging.

FYI, today's news says Holmes sent a notebook detailing his plans to a psychologist at the University, which then sat in the mailroom.

Bob Harrison said...

It was a hit. He stopped shooting because he eliminated his target, which would be in the middle of the timeline. That's mind control for you.

arbusto205 said...

Joe, I love your writing but the last line bothered me: "More to come. Next, we'll look at Holmes' family.". Unless you really find something revelatory I think you should consider letting this whole story go. The unknowns are just too vast and seemingly not significant. Gas canisters can be remotely detonated, doors can be controlled by cell phones, so could the killer's home stereo. Who knows what he was doing while using his cell? The police. If they cleared Lee, without significant other info, I would let it lie. :-)

The political spin on the story is possibly still worth discussing, Hopsicker seems inconsistent at times (I guess any good reporter would be) but I appreciated his article about Warner and you bringing it up.

Just my opinion

Anonymous said...

When strange stuff like this happens I always wonder--what else is going on in the news that we're being distracted from? In this case, is it Geithner's connection to the LIBOR scandal? Any other ideas?

Joseph Cannon said...

Message to LD: Your inability to read the "Rules for comment" (clearly posted in the upper left corner) does not incline me to consider you a credible source.

If you truly have "the story of the century," write it yourself and submit it to a journal such as Salon, Buzzfeed, or Breitbart. You can earn some money that way, and the credit will be entirely yours.

On the other hand, if you don't have sufficient evidence to impress a publication that pays, then you have nothing to offer me that would justify putting up with your intolerable insults.

Maz said...

Fire exits also open outward, so there's no conceivable way Homes could have kicked the door open from outside.

LieparDestin said...

Holmes may have quit because he thought he could get away. Or he felt over whelemed by the crowd during a moment of reloading. It is said he was choosing people, picking them up and shooting them.... maybe he had a target?. The second suspect idea is interesting because in the books sent to the psychiatrist he evidently showed multiple shooters blowing up other stick figures etc. Not to mention that it was now said to have taken place in NYC at the Batman Premiere with all the stars but minds were changed after fears of the guns being discovered.

This guy has a papertrail/blog on the intenet, a not just on 'sex sites' lie has been reporteed. Seems these guys always get hookers borehand. Brevik in Norway, even the 911 hijackers. We really need to find his blog, because even though a computer was dicovered I doubt police will ever relese details.

Anonymous said...

hmm..I can't get the video of the witness to open. It says it is a "private video" on youtube. Did anyone else have any luck opening it?