Suspect's psychiatrist alerted police before rampage: ABC
DENVER - The psychiatrist who treated suspected movie-theater shooter James Holmes contacted a University of Colorado police officer to express concerns about Holmes’ behavior several weeks before the rampage, ABC News reported, citing unnamed sources.
The sources did not know what the officer approached by Dr. Lynne Fenton did with the information she passed along, ABC said in a report late on Monday on its website.
They said, however, that the officer was recently interviewed, with an attorney present, by the Aurora, Colorado, Police Department as a part of the investigation of the July 20 shooting that left 12 people dead and 58 wounded.
The sources said Fenton would have had to have serious concerns to break confidentiality with her patient to contact the police officer or others, the network said.
Holmes, 24, was a doctoral student of neuroscience at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus before turning in paperwork to drop out in June, the month before the shooting in an Aurora theater.
Under Colorado law, a psychiatrist can legally breach a pledge of confidentiality with a patient if he or she becomes aware of a serious and imminent threat that the patient might cause harm to others, ABC said. Psychiatrists can also breach confidentiality if a court has ordered them to do so.
University spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery declined to comment to either Reuters or ABC on what, if anything, the university police officer might have done with information provided by Fenton.
She cited a court-issued gag order preventing her from confirming or denying any information related to Fenton or the shooting investigation.
In a written statement to ABC News, the university said campus police officers were frequently involved in meetings of the university’s Behavioral Evaluation and Threat Assessment team.
The statement went on to say that police involvement with threat assessment “could include security matters, badge access, background checks, wellness checks, criminal investigations and referrals and outreach to other law enforcement agencies.”
Fenton is medical director for student mental health services on campus and was “instrumental” in establishing the behavioral threat-assessment team, according to the school.
“Dr. Fenton will not be providing a statement regarding the media reports as to her involvement with Mr. Holmes,” her lawyer, Jane Mitchell, told Reuters in an e-mail.
Holmes was charged with 24 counts of first-degree murder and 116 counts of attempted murder in the shooting at a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” movie in suburban Denver.
ABC News and affiliate KMGH-TV in Denver reported last week that Fenton had contacted other members of the university’s threat-assessment team about her concerns.
Aurora police referred inquiries related to the shooting to the district attorney’s office. Prosecutors declined to comment, citing a court order not to discuss the case.
The University of Colorado said last week it had hired a former federal prosecutor to conduct an internal review of the Denver-based campus’ dealings with Holmes.
Holmes is being held without bail in solitary confinement to protect him from other inmates. Prosecutors have not yet decided whether they will seek the death penalty against Holmes.
Do you think court documents from James Holmes' trial should be released to the public?
Yes, we have a right to know.
No, it may conflict with his right to a fair trial.