DENVER | A psychiatrist who was treating the suspected Colorado movie theater gunman asked University of Colorado police for a background check on the student six weeks before the July 20 shootings, raising questions about concerns she may have had about his behavior, a Denver television station reported Tuesday.
This October 2009 photo provided by the University of Colorado Medical School shows Dr. Lynne Fenton the Director of the schools Student Mental Health Service. Court documents filed on July 27, 2012 revealed that Dr. Fenton, a psychiatrist was treating James Holmes, 24, the suspect in the Aurora theater shooting last Friday that killed 12 people and injured more than 50. (AP Photo/University of Colorado Medical School)
A University of Colorado Police officer gets into her patrol car on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, at the University of Colorado Medical Campus in Aurora, Colo. Suspected movie theater shooter James Holmes was studying neuroscience at the medical school and a psychiatrist there raised an alarm about his behavior. In the wake of a student's deadly attack at Virginia Tech five years ago, schools across the country put into place teams meant to bring together faculty and staff to notice and take action, when a student appears to be a threat. The school won't say if campus police ever were alerted to Holmes, or whether faculty or staff ivestigated his behavior.(AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)
KMGH-TV reported that the university psychiatrist, Dr. Lynne Fenton, called the University of Colorado police department in early June to ask for a background check on James Holmes. The station cited unidentified sources it said were familiar with the investigation into the shootings.
Fenton was told Holmes, then a graduate student at the university, had no criminal record, the station reported.
The university would not confirm the report, but on Tuesday told the Denver Post they had hired attorneys for Fenton and a campus officer in connection with the shooting.
KMGH previously reported that in early June, Fenton expressed concerns about Holmes to members of a university behavioral and threat assessment team, but the team did not act because Holmes decided to withdraw from the university.
Holmes was enrolled in a Ph.D. neuroscience program at the university’s Anschutz Medical Campus but told school officials he was withdrawing. He left the program June 10.
Holmes is charged with killing 12 people and injuring 58 at a movie theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora during a midnight showing of the latest Batman movie. He faces 142 counts, including first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder. He has not entered a plea.
Neither Fenton’s attorneys, retained by the university to represent her, nor Aurora police immediately returned telephone calls from The Associated Press seeking comment Tuesday.
Doug Abraham, chief of the University of Colorado, Denver Police, and university spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery said they couldn’t comment Tuesday, citing a judge’s gag order prohibiting university officials from speaking publicly about the case.
University officials previously insisted campus police had no contact with Holmes, who enrolled there in June 2011.
Before the gag order was issued July 23, the university issued a statement saying police “on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus had no contact with Mr. Holmes.”
At a July 23 news conference, Abraham told reporters, “I don’t have any information on (Holmes) at all. We’ve had no contact with him on any matter.”
At that same news conference, Don Elliman, chancellor of CU-Denver, defended the school’s interactions with Holmes.
“To the best of our knowledge at this point, we think we did everything that we should have done,” he said.
ABC News reported that Fenton told a University of Colorado police officer she had concerns about Holmes, and that police in Aurora had interviewed the university officer about that conversation. ABC News cited sources it did not identify as the basis for its report.
In addition to retaining private attorneys to represent Fenton, the university has retained an attorney for the campus officer, The Denver Post reported.
“When university employees are involved in a legal process, we regularly retain counsel for them even when their actions are entirely appropriate so that they can have independent legal advice,” CU attorney Patrick O’Rourke told the newspaper.
Police said Holmes had been methodically stockpiling guns, ammunition and material for explosives for months and that he had received shipments at both the university and his nearby apartment.