"Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)
Elliott and the friends with whom he recorded in middle school in Texas (photo courtesy of Dan Pickering)
Authorities are just beginning to take the bodies out of the movie theater. END OF LIVEBLOG.
TPM has a new profile of suspected shooter James Holmes who will be arraigned on Monday:
Growing up in San Diego, James Eagan Holmes was seen by his neighbors as an “everyday guy,” a smart kid who was otherwise unremarkable.
But by Friday, the young man was being described by Colorado’s governor as a “very deranged mind” and was the sole suspect in a horrific massacre that left 12 people dead and 59 wounded at a movie theater in the Denver suburbs.
There are still many questions unanswered about how Holmes, now 24, went from the quiet teen in California to an alleged mass killer in Aurora, Colo. But just hours after the massacre, a clearer portrait was emerging of his life leading up to it.
An email just arrived with the view of conservative commentator Andy Martin who blames president Obama for the massacre:
“Obama is the poster boy for the arrogant Hollywood elite,” Andy says. “These people keep polluting our society with increasingly violent and anti-social messages. Where’s the surprise when someone goes berserk and starts a killing spree? The First Amendment confers broad immunity on free speech. But even if Hollywood’s speech is constitutionally ‘protected,’Hollywood violence and perversity is polluting the minds of people all around the world…Barack Obama is collecting ‘blood money’ from his Hollywood campaign bundlers. The new Batman movie should be immediately withdrawn.
The latest from CNN:
The suspect in the killing of 12 people at a Colorado screening of the new Batman movie had colored his hair red and told police he was “the Joker,” according to a federal law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation.
Police say James Holmes, 24, was dressed in protective gear and set off two devices of some kind before firing from an AR-15 rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and at least one of two handguns recovered. A source said Holmes carried a magazine capable of holding more than 100 rounds and that his guns were purchased legally in the past six months.
An eyewitness tells MSNBC that the shooter said nothing during the massacre.
MSNBC has a detailed piece on suspected shooter James Holmes. It begins:
James Eagan Holmes, suspected of carrying out the Colorado movie theater shooting while wearing an outfit of black ballistic gear, was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate student in neuroscience who started buying his four weapons legally in May, about the time his grades fell and he began the process of dropping out of school.
ABC’s Brian Ross gets a solid spanking from American Journalism Review after he reported on “Good Morning America” earlier today that:
“There is a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado, page on the Colorado Tea Party site as well, talking about him joining the Tea Party last year. Now we don’t know if this is the same Jim Holmes―but this is Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado.”
If you have information about the victims email email@example.com .
Several months ago The New Yorker reported that it’s the NRA’s policy not to comment on shootings. Why can’t the NRA, and politicians who support gun rights, address gun related tragedies in an adult way?
Comments welcome below.
CelebBoutique, the candidate for the day’s most despicable tweet, has apologized, claiming that the reference to their #aurora dress was a coincidence.
The official casualty count is 12 dead and 59 wounded. Except for an aspiring sportscaster named Jessica Ghawi who was active on social media, very little information about the victims has circulated.
According to The Denver Post, Matt McQuinn, who works for Target in Aurora, is not accounted for:
“Nobody knows what’s going on with Matt. I’ve heard rumors that he got shot, but I don’t know,” said Diane Behling…
McQuinn’s mother is flying from Ohio to try and find her son.
“We’ve been trying to call that one hotline number and we can’t get through to it,” said Stacie McQuinn, Matt McQuinn’s stepmother. “We do know that he is not on the victims list yet.”
The NRA passed along a note. It reads in full:
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and the community. NRA will not have any further comment until all the facts are known. – Andrew Arulanandam, director of public affairs, NRA”
Salon staff writer Andrew Leonard has just published a piece featuring interviews with two teenage eyewitnesses who saw their friend shot, “He had blood pouring off of his arm.”
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, co-chair with Mike Bloomberg of the non-partisan group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, released a statement. It reads in part:
“While we still don’t know much about how this happened, we do know that we have laws in this country that allow people who have no business ever possessing a firearm to get their hands on guns. We have a Columbine, a Virginia Tech, a Tucson, an Aurora theater every day in America. 34 people are killed with guns every single day in America. And yet – we will see a few weeks of media attention that forces politicians to express their condolences, but then no action is taken in Washington to fix the problem.”
After not finding any mention of the massacre on the NRA’s Web site, we called their public affairs department to request a statement. The spokeswoman said they’d get back to us.
Is the shooting a turning point for the movies? AP is reporting that movie theater stocks have dropped on fears that moviegoers will stay home out of concern for their personal safety. “The Dark Knight Rises” pulled in more than $30 million last night, the second highest total ever for a midnight premiere. The wire has also come out with a piece explaining that suspect Holmes bought a ticket to the movie:
“Holmes is believed to have propped open an exit door in the theater as the movie was playing, donned protective ballistic gear and opened fire.”
Salon movie critic Andrew O’Hehir asks: “Does Batman have blood on his hands?”
Tweets by Amanda Kost of Denver ABC affiliate 7News:
— Amanda Kost, 7NEWS (@AmandaKost) July 20, 2012
#theatershootingAurora Police Chief: Shooter wore ballistic leggings & vest, throat & groin protectors, black gloves. Car parked outside.
— Amanda Kost, 7NEWS (@AmandaKost) July 20, 2012
Fox 5 San Diego has interviewed a neighbor of the suspect’s mother. He doesn’t have much to say about Holmes but remember in an earlier interview the mother said ”You have the right person…I need to call the police… I need to fly out to Colorado.”
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence rates states’ gun safety laws on a scale from 0 to 100 with higher numbers signifying stricter regulations. Colorado rates a 15. To put that in context: Montana: 2, New York: 62, California: 81, Utah 0.
2:32 p.m.: (revised)
A contender for the most despicable tweet of the day comes from an organization called CelebBoutique :
Aurora police chief Daniel Oates says police were on the scene within a minute or a minute and a half adding that “chemical and incendiary” elements have been found at Holmes’s apartment. “THere are folks who are trying to locate loved ones…we’re not in a position to talk about any of the victims until all of the victims are identified.”
Press conference warns to be wary of social media. Speaker says “a lot of pranks” have been discovered.
Jordan Ghawi, brother of victim Jessica Ghawi, is a first responder. With extraordinary composure he has assembled a blog about the series of events. He tweets that a man named Brent, who was with Jessica, is medically stable after being wounded.
Press conference: “Many, many shots fired.”
AP says that showings of “The Dark Knight Rises” will proceed as expected around the country.
According to Business Insider the suspect may have thought of himself as imitating the Joker. The Huffington Post has posted an additional photo of James Holmes.
Two more stories from Salon:
Alex Seitz-Wald writes in Salon on Aurora and the long shadow of Columbine.
Paul Campos shares the chilling thought: Why aren’t there more Auroras?
Salon on what’s now being called “The Dark Knight shooting”:
Mary Beth Williams: “It’s in those places of togetherness that we find ourselves most exposed.”
David Sirota: “Call it ‘Terrorism”
President Obama is returning to Washington early from a campaign swing in Florida. He’s due to land in about an hour. MSNBC says we won’t hear from him again today.
MSNBC: James Holmes was an easy going loner who enjoyed Sunday night karaoke at a local bar.
MTV says that suspected shooter James Holmes, “was not on a terror watch list, did not have a concealed weapons permit, hunting license or arrest history and had no connection to the military.”
We’ll be live blogging the Colorado press conference that’s about to begin. MTV also quotes statements by Warner Brothers, the studio behind “The Dark Knight Rises” and Cinemark, the theater owner.
No reference to gun control in Romney’s remarks. It’s not clear to this listener that there was even a reference to guns.
Yahoo News is now reporting that the suspect, James Holmes, was in the process of withdrawing from a PH.D. program in neuroscience at the University of Colorado-Denver.
Mitt Romney is now speaking about the shooting.
Deadspin reports that @NRA_Riflemansent out the following tweet this morning:
“Good morning, shooters. Happy Friday! Weekend plans?”
The tweet has been deleted but Deadspin has the screenshot.
Karl Rove’s super PAC American Crossroads has said it will pull ads in battleground state Colorado, according to TPM. No word on for how long.
The AP reports that members of the military were killed or wounded:
The Pentagon says that some members of the military were either killed or wounded in the Colorado shooting at the Batman movie.
Pentagon press secretary George Little says it’s not yet clear how many military casualties there were, or whether they were deaths or injuries.
Marine Col. Dave Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman, says initial indications are that the suspect, James Holmes, was not a member of the military.
Via an ABC station, a picture of the suspect has been released:
— TheDenverChannel.com (@DenverChannel) July 20, 2012
This video, posted by The Denver Post features internal police communications following the shooting:
According to Politico ABC has apologized for an earlier suggestion that the attack was linked to the Tea Party.
Imgur.com has posted several photos of the aftermath and victims.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter seems to be the rare politician to join Mike Bloomberg in raising the gun control issue:
Let us keep the victims of violence in CO, and certainly in Phila in our thoughts and prayers. We must take strong action on gun violence!
— Michael A. Nutter (@Michael_Nutter) July 20, 2012
According to NBC’s WITN the shooter was a former medical student.
Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas appears to be the first right-wing conservative to be outraged that no one else in the theater. Mediaite
“Following the Thursday night Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting that has killed 12 people and left more than 30 injured, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) reportedly said that the tragedy was a result of “ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs” and questioned why nobody else in the theater had a gun to take down the shooter in a state where concealed gun carry is allowed.”
He also called the attack part of an on-going assault on Judeo-Christian beliefs.
The mother of the alleged shooter has said she was “not surprised” when she heard about the massacre according to ABC’s WCPO:
A San Diego woman identifying herself as the mother of Colorado theater shooting suspect James Holmes told a news crew Friday morning that authorities “have the person,” ABC news reports.
The woman, who said her name was Arlene, had awoken unaware of the news of the shooting and had not been contacted by authorities. She immediately expressed concern that her son may have been involved.
“You have the right person,” the mother said, speaking on instinct. “I need to call the police. I need to fly out to Colorado.”
AURORA —Police say that the apartment of the suspect in an early morning theater shooting appears to be booby trapped.
Police Chief Dan Oates said the explosive devices were “pretty sophisticated.”
“We could be here for days,” he said.
Five buildings have been evacuated.
“In a brief statement, Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said the suspect’s apartment “is apparently booby trapped.” “What we have is a bunch of bomb techs from a bunch of different agencies,” Oates said. “We could be here for hours. We could be here for days… The pictures are pretty disturbing. It looks pretty sophisticated in terms of how it’s been booby trapped.” According to a police spokesman, fire trucks are standing by in case the explosives need to be detonated.”
Has any prominent politician except Mike Bloomberg mentioned anything about gun control?
“Such violence, such evil is senseless,” President Obama said according to CNN.
ABC’s Brian Ross has suggested a Tea Party link to the shooting
The AP has posted several eyewitness accounts:
Jennifer Seeger, 25, from Aurora said she was in the second row, about four feet from the gunman, when he pointed a gun at her face. At first, “I was just a deer in headlights. I didn’t know what to do,” she said. Then she ducked to the ground. The gunman shot people seated behind her. “There were bullet (casings) just falling on my head. They were burning my forehead,” Seeger said. The gunman fired steadily except when he stopped to reload. “Every few seconds it was just ‘Boom, boom, boom,’” she said. “He would reload and shoot and anyone who would try to leave would just get killed,” she said. Seeger said she began crawling toward an exit when she saw a girl about 14 years old, “lying lifeless on the stairs.” She saw a man with a bullet wound in his back and tried to check his pulse, but “I had to go. I was going to get shot.” “I thought it was showmanship. I didn’t think it was real,” she said. ___ Sylvana Guillen, 20, said when a man appeared at the front of the theater clad in dark clothing looking like a SWAT team member as Catwoman made an appearance in the movie, the audience “thought it was a joke, a hoax.” Then they heard gunshots and smelled smoke from a canister he was carrying, and Guillen knew it was real. The gunman began walking toward the seats and firing. Guillen said she told her friend, Misha Mostashiry, “You better get ready to be shot.” Mostashiry, also 20, said they couldn’t tell where the gunman was. “All you could do is hope he didn’t come for you,” she said. “We ran to the emergency exit and nothing happened. Nothing happened to us,” Mostashiry said, with surprise and relief in her voice. On their dash to the exit, they saw a man slip in the blood of a wounded woman he was trying to help. 10:50 a.m.
Information on one of the people who died:
10:46 a.m. First video from the scene of the Aurora shooting (h/t Raw Story): July 20, 2012, 10:43 a.m. Among the 12 reported dead was an aspiring sportscaster Jessica Ghawi, “who wroteand tweeted about hockey under the name Jessica Redfield,” according to Deadspin. Ghawi’s death was reported by KEN5 in San Antonio. Her Twitter stream recounts going to the movie:
Never thought I’d have to coerce a guy into seeing the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises with me. — Jessica Redfield (@JessicaRedfield) July 20, 2012
Deadspin also points out that Ghawi wrote on her blog an account last month of the Eaton Centre shooting in Toronto: I can’t get this odd feeling out of my chest. This empty, almost sickening feeling won’t go away. I noticed this feeling when I was in the Eaton Center in Toronto just seconds before someone opened fire in the food court. An odd feeling which led me to go outside and unknowingly out of harm‘s way. It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around how a weird feeling saved me from being in the middle of a deadly shooting…. I was shown how fragile life was on Saturday. I saw the terror on bystanders’ faces. I saw the victims of a senseless crime. I saw lives change. I was reminded that we don’t know when or where our time on Earth will end. When or where we will breathe our last breath….I say all the time that every moment we have to live our life is a blessing. So often I have found myself taking it for granted. Every hug from a family member. Every laugh we share with friends. Even the times of solitude are all blessings. Every second of every day is a gift. After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given. I feel like I am overreacting about what I experienced. But I can’t help but be thankful for whatever caused me to make the choices that I made that day. My mind keeps replaying what I saw over in my head. I hope the victims make a full recovery. I wish I could shake this odd feeling from my chest. The feeling that’s reminding me how blessed I am. The same feeling that made me leave the Eaton Center. The feeling that may have potentially saved my life. July 20, 2012, 10:37 a.m.
July 20, 2012, 10:30 a.m. NBC is reporting that a Paris premiere of the movie has been cancelled. Meanwhile New York City has said that there will be police at theaters showing “The Dark Knight Rises.” July 20, 2012, 10:00 a.m. WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal law enforcement officials say the suspect in Friday’s deadly shooting in Colorado is James Holmes, a 24-year-old white American. Officials believe Holmes killed a dozen people when he fired into a crowded movie theater in a Denver suburb. He was wearing a gas mask and set off an unknown gas in the theater. Holmes is in police custody, and the FBI says there is no indication that incident is tied to any terrorist groups. The federal law enforcement officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation July 20, 2012, 8:00 a.m. A gunman wearing a gas mask set off an unknown gas and fired into a crowded movie theater in suburban Denver at a midnight opening of the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises,” killing 12 people and injuring at least 50 others, authorities said. Moviegoers didn’t know what was happening and some thought the attack was part of the show. Then they saw a silhouette of a person in the smoke at the front of the theater near the screen, pointing a gun at the crowd. “I told my friend ‘we’ve got to get out of here,’ but then he shot people trying to go out the exits,” Jennifer Seeger told NBC’s “Today.” She said the shooter made his way up the aisle, firing as he went, saying nothing. Federal law enforcement officials identified the suspect as James Holmes, a 24-year-old American. Holmes is in police custody, and the FBI says there is no indication that incident is tied to any terrorist groups. The federal law enforcement officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation Some of those injured are children, including a 3-month-old infant who was shot. Police earlier said 14 people were dead, but later revised the number to at least 12. It was not immediately clear for the reason for the revision. Witness Shayla Roeder said she saw a young teenage girl on the ground bleeding outside the theater. “She just had this horrible look in her eyes …. We made eye contact and I could tell she was not all right,” Roeder said. Victims are being treated for chemical exposure apparently related to canisters thrown by the gunman. The shooter was arrested shortly after the attack at 12:30 a.m. MDT at the multiplex theater at a mall in Aurora. It was the worst mass shooting in Colorado since the Columbine High School massacre on April 20, 1999. Students Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, opened fire at the school in the Denver suburb of Littleton, about 15 miles west of Aurora, killing 12 classmates and a teacher and wounding 26 others before killing themselves in the school’s library. Aurora police spokesman Frank Fania on ABC’s “Good Morning America” said he didn’t know yet if all the injuries were gunshot wounds. He said some might have been caused by other things such as shrapnel. Police, ambulances and emergency crews swarmed on the scene after frantic calls started flooding the 911 switchboard, officials said. Officers came running in and telling people to leave the theater, Salina Jordan told the Denver Post. She said some police were carrying and dragging bodies. Officers later found the gunman near a car behind the theater. “A gas mask, rifle, handgun at least one additional weapon (were) found inside,” he said. The suspect was taken into custody, but no name was released. Oates said there’s no evidence of any other attackers. There was also no immediate word of any motive. The suspect spoke of “possible explosives in his residence. We are dealing with that potential threat,” Oates said. A large truck lettered “bomb squad” arrived near an Aurora apartment complex where the suspect is believed to have lived, about four miles from the theater. Dozens of police squad cars, vans and other vehicles were already at the scene, along with black-clad officers carrying automatic weapons. Police evacuated residents of the building. Oates did not say whether any explosives had been found. He said police also checked for explosives in the parking lot and at the Century 16 theater and secured those areas. President Barack Obama said he was saddened by the “horrific and tragic shooting,” pledging that his administration was “committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice, ensuring the safety of our people, and caring for those who have been wounded.” Moviegoers spoke of their terror as violence erupted and people around them fell victim. Benjamin Fernandez, 30, told the Post that he heard a series of explosions. He said that people ran from the theater and there were gunshots as police shouted “get down!” Fernandez said he saw people falling, including one young girl. Jordan told the paper that one girl was struck in cheek, others in stomach including a girl who looked to be around 9-years-old. Jordan said it sounded like firecrackers until someone ran into Theater 8 yelling “they’re shooting out here!” Hayden Miller told KUSA-TV that he heard several shots. “Like little explosions going on and shortly after that we heard people screaming,” he told the station. Hayden said at first he thought it was part of a louder movie next door. But then he saw “people hunched over leaving theater.” The police chief said 10 victims died at the theater and four at area hospitals. At least 24 people were being treated at Denver area hospitals. KUSA reported that some hospitalized victims were being treated for chemical exposure, related apparently to canister thrown by gunman. Eleven people were being treated at the Medical Center of Aurora for gunshots and ranged from minor to critical condition. Two others walked in to be treated for tear gas contamination. Denver Health had seven victims — one in critical and the rest in fair condition. The youngest victim reported was a 6-year-old being treated at Children’s Hospital Colorado, where a total of six victims were taken. Their condition wasn’t known. Two people in critical condition were rushed to nearby Swedish Medical Center, spokeswoman Nicole Williams said. Aurora is on Denver’s east side and is Colorado’s third-largest city with 327,000 residents. It is home to a large Defense Department satellite intelligence operation at Buckley Air Force Base, as well as The Children’s Hospital, the University of Colorado Hospital and a future Veterans Affairs hospital.
Elliott and the friends with whom he recorded in middle school in Texas (photo courtesy of Dan Pickering)
Heatmiser publicity shot (L-R: Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson, Neil Gust, Elliott Smith) (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott and JJ Gonson (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
"Stray" 7-inch, Cavity Search Records (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott's Hampshire College ID photo, 1987
Elliott with "Le Domino," the guitar he used on "Roman Candle" (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Full "Roman Candle" record cover (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott goofing off in Portland (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Heatmiser (L-R: Elliott Smith, Neil Gust, Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson)(courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
The Greenhouse Sleeve -- Cassette sleeve from Murder of Crows release, 1988, with first appearance of Condor Avenue (photo courtesy of Glynnis Fawkes)