911 Calls Played During Theater Shooting Hearing

1:29 PM, Jan 8, 2013   |    comments
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Centennial, CO (KUSA) -- On Tuesday, Colorado continued to hear overwhelming evidence against Aurora theater shooting suspect James Holmes.


A week-long preliminary hearing, essentially a dress rehearsal for trial, has included graphic details never before revealed to the public. During Tuesday's preliminary hearing, two 911 calls were played for the courtroom.


The first 911 call was only 20 seconds long. The call came from a Kevin Quinonez who was inside theater 9. During those 20 seconds, you can hear at least 30 gunshots going off in the background. 

Detective Randy Hansen recalled both phone calls for the court.

The second 911 call was a 4-minute long call made by a 13-year-old girl. She is the cousin of Ashley Moser and Veronica Moser-Sullivan. Veronica is a 6-year-old who passed away during the shooting. Ashley is her mother. During this 911 call, the caller sounded desperate. The following is a transcription of what the caller told the dispatcher:

Dispatcher: Who's been shot
Answer: My two cousins. [They are] on the floor. [They are] not breathing.
Dispatcher: I'm going to walk you through the steps. You need to start CPR
Answer: I can't
Dispatcher: We need to start CPR on your cousin
Answer: My cousin's been shot. The police are here.

The caller was frantic, saying multiple times that she could not hear the dispatcher. A few times, the caller shouted "Help me."

During the 911 call, Veronica's father, Ian Sullivan, had his eyes closed and was crying.


FBI Special Agent Garrett Gumbinner is a bomb technician with the FBI. When he took the stand, Gumbinner described clearing Holmes' car at the scene.

Holmes had put a sunshade on his windshield, according to Gumbinner, making it difficult to see inside. There were no explosives in the car, but police did find a handgun on the roof, another handgun in the passenger door compartment, a ballistic neck protector, backpack rifle containers, an iPhone shoved between the passenger and driver's seats and vehicle deterrent spikes (otherwise known as spike sticks) on the passenger seat.

When investigating Holmes' apartment, police found a trip wire that connected from the door jamb to a Thermos. The Thermos was at a 45-degree angle and full of glycerin. Police say it was set to spill into a frying pan which was full of potassium permanganate. The intent of that was to create a chemical reaction that would create sparks when the trip wire was tripped.

Gumbinner showed the court photos of inside Holmes' apartment. There were at least five jars which Holmes had described as "improvised napalm devices." According to the testimony, Holmes used household items like aluminum rods to make the explosive devices. Some of the explosives, when burning, would be too hot to put out of water. Some of the jars were full of chemicals, and others were full of bullets. There were six-inch firework shells with three-inch shells inside filled with smokeless powder and gas oil. If the carpet had caught fire, the apartment could have exploded.

According to Gumbinner, Holmes had three initiating systems in his apartment: a trip wire, a pyrotechnic firing box and a launch-control system. The firing box was controlled by a remote control which was placed outside the apartment in a garbage bag.

Inside that trash bag, Holmes had also placed a boom box and a remote-controlled car. On the boom box was a CD playing which had 49 minutes of silence and then loud music cued to play. Holmes reportedly told police his hope was the music would start, someone passing by would go toward the music, become interested in the remote-controlled car and start playing with the car. At that point, since the remote control was connected to the firing box in the apartment, it would trigger an explosion in the apartment.


Monday marked the first day of the preliminary hearing. A couple of the officers who took the stand on Monday got quite emotional, often holding back tears as they described a chaotic scene with bloody victims and a parking lot so packed that ambulances could not get access.


Holmes sat motionless and silent during all the testimony.


Many of the details revealed this week will be brand new because of the gag order in the theater shooting case.

Survivors, families, and the media gathered at the Arapahoe County Justice Center Monday morning.

Without question there is enormous public interest in this case. News outlets from around the country are in Colorado.

Victims' families have flown in from across the country and they expect this to be a very difficult week.

Many have never stepped foot in the courthouse or been in the same room with the suspect.

"We're all going to get through this process. It's very traumatizing," said Jessica Watts, who lost her cousin Jonathan Blunk on July 20.

Blunk is one of the 12 people who died, while 58 others were injured.

"It's almost like an extended family. We'll definitely be sitting together in court," Watts said.

Watts is trying to prepare the others who haven't been to court.

"The main shock will definitely be them seeing him for the first time," Watts said.

Another shock for the families will be the evidence revealed in court.

"[There will be] a lot more detail about that night," Watts said.

Watts says they've been told to expect video and photos from inside the theater.

"They are going to be of the wounded and of the dead," Watts said.

Watts has tried to prepare herself by reading the coroner's report, which says her cousin was shot four times with four guns, yet somehow stayed alive for 46 minutes.


9NEWS legal analyst Scott Robinson says families should expect many more details than are typically revealed in a preliminary hearing.

"The evidence is going to be pretty awful to listen to. I anticipate that this will be enormously traumatizing for anyone who had a loved one in that theater," Robinson said.

Robinson says both sides will lay out their strategies.

Expect the prosecution to reveal key evidence and the defense to lay the groundwork for a possible insanity plea.

"Because of the dozens and dozens of people directly affected by this shooting incident, I expect it'll be more of a mini trial," Robinson said.

Robinson says the evidence against the suspect is so strong, there's a chance he could accept a plea deal.

If that were to happen, this may be the closest to a trial these families, and all of us, will ever see.

Watts says the Arapahoe County District Attorney asked that the families not be alone this week.

"I'm going to go in there with a blank mind. It's definitely going to be emotional but I'm hoping that I'm going to get some answers," Watts said.

Watts wants answers about that night and how it played out.

Nearly six months after the shootings, this week marks a painful new chapter for these families who have already been through so much.

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