CENTENNIAL, Colo. — It was just hours after a deadly Colorado theater shooting, and James Holmes was not acting like a man accused of methodically planning the attack and booby trapping his apartment.
As a police detective interviewed him after he was picked up outside the theater, Holmes started pretending the paper bags on his hands — meant to preserve gunshot residue — were puppets.
The former neuroscience graduate student tried to jam a staple into an electrical outlet. He played with a cup on the table. At least two officers noted that his eyes were dilated.
The description came Tuesday as prosecutors try to show that Holmes should face a trial for the July 20 attack.
Defense attorneys said Holmes is mentally ill, and have used their questions to try to make that point. They plan to call at least two witnesses who could discuss Holmes’s mental health.
The description of Holmes after the attack, given by police Detective Craig Appel, seemed to undercut prosecutors’ attempts to show Holmes as methodical, spending two months to assemble his arsenal. The first recorded purchase: Two tear gas grenades, ordered online May 10.
Holmes also bought two Glock handguns, a shotgun, and an AR-15 rifle, along with 6,295 rounds of ammunition, targets, body armor, and chemicals, prosecutors said.
He dyed his hair bright orange, then bought a scope and plastic bullets on July 1, the visit and the new hair color documented in security video.
Finally, he purchased glycerin and potassium permanganate — chemicals that could combine to create fire and sparks — from a Denver science store. At some point, he also improvised napalm, and thermite, a substance that burns so hot, water can’t extinguish the blaze.
Holmes’s purchases were split between two planned attacks, prosecutors said — the theater shooting and a booby-trapped apartment that would have blown up if anyone had entered.