Colo. theater shooting suspect James Holmes
AURORA, Colo. (USA Today) -- Only two weeks before he allegedly killed 12 people in a shooting rampage in a Colorado movie theater, James Holmes sent a cryptic text message to a graduate student asking her whether she had ever heard of the psychiatric condition known as "dysphoric mania," The New York Times reports today.
The newspaper describes the condition as a form of bipolar disorder that combines "the frenetic energy of mania with the agitation, dark thoughts and in some cases paranoid delusions of major depression."
When the University of Colorado classmate messaged back, asking Holmes whether it could be managed with treatment, he replied: "It was," but added that she should stay away from him "because I am bad news."
The exchange is noted in a lengthy,"disturbing portrait" of Holmes as a young man struggling with severe mental illness who had hinted to others that he was spinning out of control.
More than a dozen classmates and acquaintances spoke to the Times, describing Holmes as very intelligent, prone to quirky jokes but also often aloof and socially inept.
The article, by Times reporters Erica Goode, Serge F. Kovaleski, Jack Healy and Dan Frosch, describes Holmes as a young man who "floated apart, locked inside a private world they could neither share nor penetrate."
The Times says the smiles and jokes stopped in the spring, around the time that packages containing rounds of ammunition began arriving at his apartment, according to police.
Prosecutors say in court papers that Holmes told a fellow student in March that he wanted to kill people "when his life was over."
The impending darkness seemed to gain the upperhand, the newspaper reports, as his classwork suffered and he did poorly on oral exams.
One professor told the 24-year-old Holmes that he should find another career, prosecutors say, and he left campus shortly afterward.
The story also recounts two phone calls that Dave Aragon, the director of a low-budget, Batman-style movie dealing with vigilante justice and dark redemption, got from someone identifying himself as James Holmes from Denver.
The caller seemed obsessed with a four-minute online trailer of the movie, and pressed Aragon for details about the film.
"He came off as articulate, nervous, on the meek side," Aragon tells the Times."He was obviously interested in the body count."
Police say the gunman in Aurora, Colo., with hair dyed red, stepped into a crowded theater on July 20 and opened fire on the audience at the opening night of the Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises.