Gunman 'sent package to university'
A university has said it received a suspicious package, but would not confirm the contents or whether the sender was a former student accused of killing 12 people in the Colorado cinema shooting.
The University of Colorado, Denver said yesterday that the package was immediately investigated and turned over to authorities within hours of its delivery on Monday.
But Fox News' website reported that shooting suspect James Holmes sent a notebook to the university that sat in the post room unopened since at least July 12, and was not found until Monday.
In the statement, the university disputed that it received the package on July 12 but did not elaborate.
Fox said the notebook contained drawings of stick figures being shot and a written description of an upcoming attack.
The package containing it was addressed to a psychiatrist at the school, the website reported. It was unclear if Holmes, 24, had had any previous contact with the person. The neuroscience graduate programme that he withdrew from on June 10 included professors of psychiatry.
NBC News reported that Holmes told investigators to look for the package and that it described killing people.
The FBI and other law enforcement agencies refused to confirm the reports.
The University of Colorado, Denver issued a statement saying it could not confirm the reports or discuss any aspects of the investigation, citing a gag order placed on the case by a judge.
It said that packages to the main post room of the Anschutz Medical Campus, where Holmes studied, are not tracked unless the US Postal Service requires a signature upon delivery.
Before the gag order was issued, police said Holmes received more than 50 packages at the school and his home that apparently contained ammunition, combat gear and explosive materials that he used in the attack and to booby-trap his Aurora apartment.
Holmes' apartment building remained closed yesterday, although his defence team stopped by for a brief visit. They left without answering reporters' questions.
Holmes was allegedly stockpiling for the attack while he studied at the school's neuroscience programme.
He bought a shotgun and pistol in May, authorities say. On June 7, the date he took a year-end oral exam, he bought an assault rifle.
He filed paperwork to leave the programme three days later and did not provide a reason, the university has said.
On June 25, he filed an application to join a private gun range in eastern Colorado, but the club's owner, hearing what he described as a "bizarre" outgoing voice mail on Holmes' mobile phone recorded in a low voice with heavy-breathing, told his staff to watch out for the man. Holmes never came to the range.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said yesterday in an interview with NBC News that many of the guns used in the shooting were obtained illegally and that changing laws would not prevent gun-related tragedies. But the weapons used were obtained legally.
Mr Romney said that "this person shouldn't have had any kinds of weapons and bombs". Mr Romney said it was illegal for Holmes to have "many" of the weapons already.
Holmes broke no laws when he purchased an assault-style rifle, a shotgun and Glock handgun, and he passed the required background checks.
A father who took his teenage children to the new Batman movie and was killed when a gunman opened fire on the theatre was mourned yesterday as the first memorial service for a victim of the shootings was held.
Fifty-one-year-old Gordon Cowden was the oldest of the 12 people killed in the massacre at the Dark Knight Rises. His teenage children escaped unharmed.
Cowden lived in Aurora, the Denver suburb where the cinema is located. A family statement described him as a "true Texas gentleman" who loved the outdoors and owned his own business.
Carrying flowers and passing a large portrait of Cowden, about 150 mourners gathered for the memorial at a Denver church. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper paused at the photo before entering the church.
The memorial was also attended by Aurora mayor Steve Hogan and Aurora police chief Dan Oates.
Later this week, families of other victims planned to say their final goodbyes.
Funerals were planned in towns from San Antonio, Texas, home of aspiring sportscaster Jessica Ghawi, to Crystal Lake, Illinois, hometown of Navy intelligence officer John Thomas Larimer.
Holmes is due in court next Monday, when he will hear the charges against him.