Most of our energy and prayers and focus should be with the victims and the victims’ families. For it is they who will suffer long after the headlines go away. It is our job to support these families in honoring the life and legacy of these individuals. To eternally and emphatically send our prayers their way.
As painful and enraging as it may be to take our attention away from the victims and towards the perpetrator, it also seems important to look closely at why this happened. How a seemingly functional, heretofore non-violent person can engage in this kind of ruthless, horrifying violence. We don’t know a lot about James Holmes. But we know some. This information, coupled with some psychological theory, gives us some preliminary hypothesis about what happened on this darkest of days.
James Holmes, 24, was reportedly a loner. And by the accounts that have so far surfaced, he wasn’t known intimately by many. In a recent rent application, he described himself as “quiet” and “easy going”. Holmes had no criminal background to speak of and was not on the radar of any law enforcement agency. He had no prior interaction with the local Aurora police department, except for a traffic summons for speeding in 2011. His academic history also does not belie his ultimately violent nature. Holmes graduated in the spring of 2010 with a degree in neuroscience from the University of California-Riverside, where he was remembered as an outstanding student who attended on a merit-based scholarship. He went on to begin to earn an advanced degree in neuroscience at the University of Colorado. However, reports indicate he began the process of dropping out of the program in June 2012.