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Colorado shooting suspect was honor student, scholarship winner

July 20, 2012 |  1:18 pm

UC Riverside Chancellor Timothy White said Friday that Colorado shooting suspect James Holmes was an honor student at the school, graduating with a degree in neuroscience in 2010.

Holmes had no run-ins with police on campus or anything else that would foreshadow what happened in Colorado, he said.

"We are very deeply saddened by this horrific event," White said.

PHOTOS: 'Dark Knight Rises' shooting

University officials declined to provide details about White's studies or activities on campus, citing federal privacy laws. He graduated in the spring of 2010 with a bachelor's degree in neuroscience.

White said Holmes had received merit scholarships and was considered a very good student. "He was an honor student, so academically, he was at the top of the top," he said.

White said neuroscience is a rigorous area of study dealing with the human brain.

Holmes attended UC Riverside after graduating from Westview High School in San Diego in 2006.

The 24-year-old suspect was taken into custody early Friday in the parking lot outside the Century 16 movie theater after the post-midnight attack in Aurora, Colo. He allegedly entered the theater through an exit door about half an hour into the local premiere of the Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises." At least 12 people were killed in the attack.

In San Diego, media members gathered outside the home of his parents, and his mother, Arlene Holmes, told ABC News, "You have the right person. I need to call the police. I need to fly out to Colorado."

The family released a statement Friday morning asking for privacy.
"Our hearts go out to those who were involved in this tragedy and to the families and friends of those involved," the statement said. "We ask that the media respect our privacy during this difficult time. Our family is cooperating with authorities in both San Diego, California and Aurora, Colorado. We are still trying to process this information and we appreciate that people will respect our privacy."

A San Diego neighbor said he remembered James Holmes as a very shy, well-mannered young man who was heavily involved in their local Presbyterian church.

"He seemed to be a normal kid, I don't know what triggered it. This makes me very sad," said Tom Mai, a retired electrical engineer.

Mai's 16-year-old son, Anthony, said: "I saw him as a normal guy, an everyday guy, doing everyday things."


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-- Phil Willon in Riverside and Richard Marosi in San Diego