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University of Colorado emails on theater shooting reveal suspect's romance, fear on campus

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James Eagan Holmes is accused of opening fire July 20 on a crowded theater at a showing of "Batman: The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colo., killing 12 people.

Aurora shooting suspect James Eagan Holmes was briefly in a romantic relationship with a fellow graduate student, but she was out of the country when the theater massacre took place, according to records released Wednesday by the University of Colorado.


The university released more than 1,500 emails from Holmes’ accounts, and another 2,300 emails in its system that that referenced Holmes — a response to Freedom of Information requests from KUSA, an NBC affiliate in Denver, and other news outlets.

About 1,000 of the emails that mention James Holmes were redacted, the Denver Post noted, and at least 1,200 emails written by Holmes were not released because the university deemed them private student records, and thus not subject to disclosure Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, KUSA reported.

The messages provide some new details about Holmes and the university's response to the tragedy, in which the former neuroscience student is accused of opening fire on a crowd at the July 20 premiere of "Batman: The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colo., killing 12 people and wounding 58.


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Among the revelations contained in the newly released documents was that Holmes had been romantically involved with another student in his graduate program, referenced in an email apparently written by an instructor or another student.

"Yeah, he was a grad student here, and, it turns out, had a brief romantic relationship with one of the grad students in my program last fall," the mail reads. "She, fortunately, it turns out is in India right now. She knows, and is pretty freaked out."

In an email, Holmes asks to participate in an fMRI study — which stands for "functional magnetic resonance imaging." In another he expresses interest in a family-medicine residency position.

Some of the email is the missives that flew back and forth as the details of the Aurora shooting emerged, with writers expressing horror and dismay.

"[Holmes] could have done this on campus instead of the movies," wrote one research assistant.

Once the university realized Holmes was a student of theirs, they instructed staff and students to not post on Facebook or Twitter about him.

Prosecutors pursue two-track strategy against James Holmes in Colorado massacre

What is not included in the emails are those that deal with Holmes' mental health history, the crime and any personal communication involving Holmes.

KUSA continues to review the emails. Many of the pages have the phrase "Privilege — Redacted in Full."

Holmes was arrested in the parking lot of the Century Aurora 16 theater shortly after the shootings and told officers his apartment contained explosives, police said. That information prompted evacuation of Holmes' apartment building and those surrounding it until law enforcement teams could disarm the jumble of wires and explosive devices set to detonate by trip wires.

He is facing two sets of first-degree murder charges for each of the of 12 deaths. He is also charged with 116 counts of attempted murder, as well as one count of illegal possession of explosives, according to court documents.

NBC News' M. Alex Johnson contributed to this report.

File - Ted S. Warren / AP

A memorial to the theater shooting victims went up July 24 in Aurora, Colo.

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