Colorado shooting suspect James Eagan Holmes makes his first court appearance in Aurora, Colo., in this file photo taken July 23, 2012.
James Holmes' personality and behavior during interviews raised concerns at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he was rejected as a candidate for the Ph.D. neuroscience program, documents show. Holmes is charged with murder in the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo.
University officials on Thursday released Holmes' application, which included interview review forms filled out by those who spoke with Holmes when he visited Alabama in February 2011. His rejection letter was dated March 31, 2011.
Professors noted Holmes was an "excellent applicant," but shy. One professor noted "he may be extremely smart, but difficult to engage … Hard to tell how interested he is.” Another wrote: “I think he is a top student to recruit. His personality may not be as engaging as some applicants, but he is going to be a leader in the future.”
Holmes later enrolled as a first-year Ph.D. student in a neuroscience program at the University of Colorado at Denver. He withdrew about six weeks before the July 20 rampage at an Aurora movie theater. Police say the 24-year-old, wearing body armor and a gas mask and heavily armed, opened fire on an audience of the opening night of the Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises," killing 12 and wounding 58.
The University of Iowa also rejected Holmes, according to KUSA-TV, an NBC News affiliate in Denver. University records released last week show Holmes was interviewed, but neuroscience program director Daniel Tranel wrote in an email: "James Holmes: Do NOT offer admission under any circumstances.”
Psychology professor Mark Blumberg followed up with a separate email two days later to say he backed Tranel. "Don't admit," he wrote about Holmes. Blumberg recommended admission for two others, according to KUSA-TV.
Holmes' application to UAB contained glowing recommendation letters written by professors who worked with Holmes at the University of California, Riverside, KUSA-TV reported.
"James is among the top 1% of Honors students and is self-motivated, intelligent and driven," one letter stated. Another read: "I found James to be determined, hardworking, while at the same time inquisitive, showing a clear interest in the material." Names of the professors had been redacted in the documents.
In his application to UAB, Holmes wrote in his letter that he aspired “to become a cognitive neuroscientist. I intend to continue performing research after graduate school in either academic or public sectors. My life-long goal is to increase the efficiency of how human beings learn and remember.”
KUSA-TV's Jeremy Jojola and NBC News's Sevil Omer contributed to this report.
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