Police Describe Aurora Theater Attack at Hearing

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1min 37sec

The preliminary hearing for accused Aurora theater shooter James Holmes enters its second day Tuesday. Prosecutors are expected to continue outlining their evidence for the 166 charges they’ve filed against him, while many victims of the attack, and their loved ones, look on. Colorado Public Radio’s Megan Verlee was at Monday’s hearing and reports it was a day of difficult testimony.

This is a transcript of Megan Verlee's report:

Reporter Megan Verlee: Prosecutors called a string of Aurora police officers to the stand to describe what they saw and did on the night of the attack. Patrolman Jason Oviatt described running toward the back door of the theater with his gun drawn, when he saw a man in ballistics gear and a gas mask standing next to a white car. Oviatt mistook the figure for another police officer until he got closer and realized that unlike everyone else at the scene, the figure wasn't moving or doing anything. That man was James Holmes.

Oviatt ordered Holmes onto the ground and handcuffed him. Defense attorneys questioned the officer closely about their client’s demeanor at this point. Oviatt described Holmes as completely compliant, limp and detached.

Prosecutors then turned to the scene inside the theater. Officers described a dark and chaotic place. The movie was still running. The floor was covered in blood. Tear gas, allegedly released by Holmes, choked the air. Officers had to shout to be heard over emergency sirens, the screams of wounded, and the ringing of scores of cell phones abandoned by fleeing movie-goers.

Sergeant Gerald Jonsgaard broke down on the stand as he described finding the body of the youngest victim, six-year-old Veronica Moser-Sullivan, inside the theater.

Through the course of this weeklong hearing, prosecutors will try to show there’s probable cause for every charge against Holmes. After focusing on the twelve fatalities for most of the day, Monday ended with testimony about some of the more than 50 people Holmes is accused of attempting to murder.

The prosecution will continue under new leadership today. The new Arapahoe County District Attorney, George Brauchler, was sworn yesterday after the hearing.

[Photo: CPR/MVerlee]