The sophisticated booby-trap devices Denver-area shooting suspect James Holmes set at his apartment could have killed first responders and destroyed the apartment complex in a massive inferno, an official involved in the probe said on Saturday.
Reuters reported that bomb experts entered the 800-square-foot apartment in the Denver suburb of Aurora after a controlled explosion on Saturday. Inside they found 30 aerial shells filled with gunpowder, two containers brimming with liquid accelerants and an unknown number of bullets left to explode in the resulting fire.”
“Given the amount of explosives that were there, if they detonated ideally, you would have had a very ample explosion with an ensuing thermal effect from the incendiary liquids that would have destroyed that apartment complex,” a law enforcement official with expertise in improvised explosives told Reuters.
“It's safe to say that whole building would have burned. The explosion would have certainly removed the interior walls in the building and some of the exterior walls” of the brick-built apartment complex, the source added.
Graduate school dropout Holmes, 24, is in police custody and accused of killing 12 and injuring 58 people at a Denver-area movie theater.
Police suspect he left a stereo device on a timer in his apartment that blared loud music into the early hours, to lure first responders to the carefully rigged home.
The gunpowder filled aerial shells were spread throughout the living room area. The shells were wired to an improvised control box in the kitchen.
Designed to be triggered by entry to the apartment, the ensuing blast, conflagration and flying shrapnel from exploding bullets, was clearly designed to kill first responders at the scene.
Holmes, who spent at least part of his childhood in San Diego, received a bachelor's degree in neuroscience from the University of California, Riverside. By June 2011, he was in Colorado, where he enrolled in a doctoral program in neuroscience at the University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus.
In a statement, the school said on Friday he had been in the process of withdrawing.
Holmes, who was wearing a gas mask and body armor, hurled a gas canister into the auditorium and opened fire on moviegoers who were attending a midnight premiere of the new "Batman" movie at a mall in Aurora.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sent his condolences to United States President Barack Obama on Saturday following the shooting attack. Speaking on behalf of the Israeli nation, Netanyahu expressed condolences for the bereaved families, and wished the wounded a speedy recovery.