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Emotional Interview: Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates on the Investigation into the Movie Theater Suspect

Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates spoke to Jon Scott about the latest on the investigation into the movie theater shooting that killed 12 people and injured 58 others. He told Scott that rather than insisting the suspect James Holmes acted alone, they have no information at this time that he acted with anyone else. He added later in the interview that police are “very confident” that there is not another suspect out there that poses a threat to the community, and said “It’s a perverse enough crime for one person to formulate it.”

Asked about why he thinks this shooting happened, he said, “I can’t begin to explain this, I can’t explain any of these shootings. They’re unfathomable.”

Oates said the police are in the process of contacting

anyone who was an acquaintance of Holmes to find out as much about him as possible. He said whatever Holmes might be telling the police is not for public discussion, though he is represented by an attorney and not speaking to police at this time.


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The police chief could not confirm reports that the AR-15 rifle the suspect was carrying jammed, possibly saving lives. He said he has not been briefed on the forensics yet. Oates would not confirm that the suspect may have taken prescription drugs prior to the massacre. He said, “Any admissions that he has made to us, that’ll be presented in the court process … Our highest priority is that he be convicted of these horrible crimes.”

Oates said he projects that investigators will be sifting through the evidence collected in the suspect’s apartment for months.

He told Scott that the biggest challenge to his department is the fatigue. There is a lot to do today, including logistics surrounding tonight’s planned prayer vigil which he said “is terribly important to the community.” He also commented on President Obama’s visit to Aurora, saying, “We’re honored to have the president here, we need him to be here, the victims need to spend time with him. But that also presents some challenges for us.”

Oates spoke to the strength of the community, saying, “it’s really rallying and I think this prayer vigil tonight, this memorial service will be a really important moment.” He said, “I drove by the theater yesterday just to say hi to my cops who are guarding it and the spontaneous outpouring around the theater … the big poster everyone’s signing, it’s really powerful stuff. This community is grieving.”

In an emotional moment, Oates said, “Obviously my cops and my civilian employees, they’ve done an incredible job. We couldn’t be more proud of them. You know we train and we train and we train for active shooter situations, it’s a legacy of Columbine and other shooter incidents, and as a police chief I never thought in my mind that I would really be coping with that or my cops would. And they did the other night – and they did an incredible job.”


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