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Colorado shooting suspect’s professors in shock, school says

July 20, 2012 |  1:25 pm


This post has been updated, as indicated below.

Professors at UC Riverside recalled Colorado shooting suspect James Holmes as an honor student and could provide no clues what prompted a violent outburst that left 12 people dead and dozens of others injured, Chancellor Timothy White said.

White said professors who knew Holmes expressed shock and disbelief about the movie theater shooting at the premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colo. He said that many on campus were still trying to understand happened.

White said counseling is being offered to faculty and staff who may have known Holmes.

PHOTOS: 'Dark Knight Rises' shooting

"He was an honor student, so academically, he was at the top of the top," White said.

He said neurological sciences is a rigorous area of study on campus dealing with the science of the human brain.

Kelly Huffman, an assistant professor of psychology at UC Riverside, said Holmes was in her Drugs and Behavior class in 2010 and did well in what she said was a challenging course. She described him as “a smart and quiet guy.”

Huffman said that she spoke Friday with the teaching assistant who led the course's smaller discussion section that Holmes attended, and that the assistant didn't recall the shooting suspect. "So that probably means he [Holmes] was pretty quiet," Huffman said.

White said Holmes had received merit scholarships and was considered a very good student.

Others who attended high school with Holmes in San Diego described a quiet, academic kid.

"He didn't seem like a troublemaker at all," said UC San Diego student Dan Kim, 23, who used to walk home from summer school with Holmes. "He just seemed like he wanted to get in and out, and go to college."

He called the suspect a "super-nice kid," "kinda quiet," and "really smart."

According to local officials, at least 12 people were dead and dozens were injured in the shooting by the gunman, who wore body armor and a gas mask when he entered the movie theater in suburban Aurora after midnight Friday. He then set off at least one canister of gas and opened fire with a variety of weapons. The attack came about half an hour into the showing of "The Dark Knight Rises," an eagerly awaited summer epic that had fans lining up for hours and scalpers reportedly selling tickets for as much as $300.

[For the Record, 4:02 p.m. July 20:  An earlier version of this post included details of a grade that James Holmes had received in a class at UC Riverside. This version removes those details, in deference to federal rules that prohibit the release of students' grades without their permission.]


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-- Phil Willon in Riverside and Larry Gordon in Los Angeles