Details about Colorado shooter emerge as ABC apologizes for false Tea Party reporting Update: 71 shot Update: Obama and Romney video added

posted at 2:05 pm on July 20, 2012 by Mary Katharine Ham

The last post was getting heavy with updates and comments, so here’s a new thread to deal with what, unfortunately, is an inevitable part of every major national tragedy these days— the political scapegoating, usually of the Tea Party.

But first, we have some more information about the alleged shooter, James Holmes, 24. This is reportedly a photo of the suspect:

Aurora theater shooter James Holmes
The AP reported that The University of Colorado Medical School said Holmes had withdrawn from school there, but did not know why. He may have been pursuing a Ph.D. in neuropsychology until recently. Other reports state that Holmes’ apartment, which police searched, was booby-trapped with explosives and flammable material.

Meanwhile, ABC’s Brian Ross was focused this morning, not on the man who perpetrated the shooting, but on the first Jim Holmes he could find in the Denver area with a Tea Party connection. His reporting is so bad as to suggest he simply Googled “Jim Holmes + Tea Party + Denver,” and George Stephanopoulos accepted his report credulously. Nate Silver, a statistics specialist who writes on politics at the New York Times, estimated there are may be 25 Jim Holmeses in the Denver area.

Here’s the original report, via Mediaite:

Later, ABC News included a clarification of sorts buried in this online story, but flagged by Dylan Byers. The original clarification, without an apology, has since been moved to the top of the story and turned into an apology:

Editor’s Note: An earlier ABC News broadcast report suggested that a Jim Holmes of a Colorado Tea Party organization might be the suspect, but that report was incorrect. ABC News and Brian Ross apologize for the mistake, and for disseminating that information before it was properly vetted.

Stephanopoulos and Ross owe an on-air apology to the Mr. Jim Holmes they smeared and the Colorado Tea Party, and Ross should be disciplined or fired (I’m sure we could have a whole thread for that discussion). The Jim Holmes they referenced is a 52-year-old man understandably shaken by the unwarranted national attention.

“It was freaky,” said Holmes, describing his reaction when ABC News speculated that he was the culprit who entered a crowded theater and opened fire on dozens of innocent men, women, and children. He disconnected his telephone and says that he is worried about members of his family who might be contacted by the media.

Regina Thompson, of the Colorado Tea Party Patriots:

Regina Thomson, the president of the Colorado Tea Party Patriots, said in a statement, “The member of the Colorado Tea Party Patriots, Jim Holmes, age 52 is not the same person who has been identified as the shooter.”

“The attempts of some media organizations to characterize the shooter as a Tea Party member without having made any effort to contact our organization are shameless and reprehensible,” she said.

Matt Welch of Reason is doing the work that, sadly, must be done— tracking “half-assed media speculation.” (Including, unfortunately, Republican Rep. Louis Gohmert’s dumb speculation about “attacks on Judeo-Christian values” as a possible root.)

There’s not much verified information on many of the victims, yet, and won’t be for a little while, as relatives are notified. But I loathe giving the alleged shooters so much press in these stories without touching on the victims, so I’ll give you what we have— the story of Jessica Ghawi, an aspiring sportscaster who narrowly missed a mall shooting in Toronto last month only to be killed in a theater in Aurora:

Ghawi, who wrote under the name Jessica Redfield, worked for sports website Busted Coverage and a now-poignant final post on her personal blog describes her near miss at the Eaton Center mall shooting in Toronto June 2 — where seven were injured and one died.

“I can’t get this odd feeling out of my chest. This empty, almost sickening feeling won’t go away,” Ghawi wrote. “I noticed this feeling when I was in the Eaton Center in Toronto just seconds before someone opened fire in the food court.

Read her whole blog post, here.

As I said in the previous post, I hope she lived the hell out of life from June to July. Her Twitter description suggests she’s the kind of woman who didn’t have any problem with that: “You can find me in the TV studio, NHL arena/ locker room, on a plane, or writing. Southern. Sarcastic. Sass.Class.Crass. Grammar snob.” A woman after my own heart. God bless her and her family and friends, and all the rest we don’t know yet.

Jessica Ghawi

Update: Police in Colorado say the number of people shot in an Aurora theater is up to 71:

“There were bullet (casings) just falling on my head. They were burning my forehead,” Jennifer Seeger said, adding that the gunman, dressed like a SWAT team member, 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.”

The alleged shooter had an assault rifle, a shotgun, and two pistols, according to police.

Update: Police radio audio of response to the massacre, via Fox News.

Update: Obama and Romney respond.

This video of Obama is not embeddable, but I’ll look for one that is.

Mr. Obama called the shooting “senseless” and “beyond reason,” adding, “We may never understand what leads anybody to terrorize their fellow human beings… If there’s anything to take away from this tragedy it’s the reminder that life is very fragile… Our time here is limited and it is precious.”

“I stand before you today not as a man running for office, but as a father, a grandfather, a husband — an American…our hearts break for the victims and their families. We pray that the wounded will recover, and we pray that those who are grieving will know the nearness of God….What we do know is how evil is overcome, and we’re seeing that greater power today, in the goodness and compassion of a wounded community.”

Update: Flags will be at half-staff until Wednesday.

Update: Four armed service members among those shot, but not killed: “Buckley Air Force Base is in Aurora, and defense officials told NBC News that two Air Force reservists and two Navy service members were among those shot.”

Update: Gabby Giffords and husband Mark Kelly respond to shooting via Twitter.

Update: The gun-control talk begins at the White House. To be fair, this is boilerplate, with no indication of action they’d like to take, and going after guns in an election year won’t serve them well in swing-state Colorado, no matter what James Holmes did. Via Daily Caller‘s Jeff Poor, Michael Bloomberg has been booked for Sunday’s “Face the Nation.” I bet he ain’t talking trans fats.

Breaking on Hot Air