Colorado shooting suspect: 'Everything came easy for him,' friend says
The suspect in the shooting during a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" at a Colorado movie theater Friday showed no signs of violence or anger, friends and classmates said.
James Holmes, 24, was a honors student, enjoyed video games and movies and was a strong athlete, they said. The friends knew Holmes during his high school and college years in San Diego and Riverside.
Ritchie Duong, a 24-year-old student at UC Riverside, went to middle school and high school with Holmes in San Diego and to college with him at UC Riverside. Duong said he last saw Holmes in December in downtown Los Angeles when the two joined some other friends to have dinner and see the new "Mission Impossible" movie.
"He didn't seem to change very much from high school," Duong said. "We knew him as the same guy. We would call him 'Jimmy James.' We would laugh all the time about it."
"Everything came easy for him," Duong said by phone Saturday. "I had one college class with him, and he didn't even have to take notes or anything. He would just show up to class, sit there, and around test time he would always get an A."
Duong said that he did not believe Holmes was on prescription medication. In fact, he called Holmes a “pretty athletic kid” who frequented the gym. Duong said Holmes had numerous friends and that he had no apparent problem with women.
“He did see girls,” Duong said, adding that Holmes had never introduced him to a girlfriend.
Duong had not heard from Holmes since their last meeting.
When he heard about the shootings, Duong said he read reports online and, at first, he misunderstood. He thought his friend had been shot. Then he read more closely and "it turned out” his friend was the shooter.
In a résumé posted on Monster.com, Holmes listed himself as an "aspiring scientist" and said he was looking for a job as a laboratory technician, the Associated Press reported.
The résumé described how Holmes worked as a summer intern at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla in 2006 and mapped the neurons of Zebra finches and studied the flight muscles of hummingbirds while he was an undergraduate at UC Riverside.
He also worked one summer as a counselor at a camp for underprivileged children. The chief executive at Camp Max Straus said Holmes worked there in 2008 and "had no incidents or disciplinary concerns."
In a statement to The Times, Randy Schwab, chief executive of Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles and director of Camp Max Straus, wrote that Holmes was responsible for "the care and guidance of a group of approximately 10 children" at the camp, in the hills above Glendale.
"His role was to ensure that these children had a wonderful camp experience by helping them learn confidence, self-esteem and how to work in small teams to effect positive outcomes," he said. In a later email, he added: "That summer provided the kids a wonderful camp experience without incident."
-- Matt Stevens
Photo: James Holmes, accused of a mass shooting in a Colorado movie theater, in a Westview High School yearbook photo.