AURORA, Colo. (Reuters) - The apartment of the man suspected of shooting 71 people at a Denver-area movie theater on Friday, killing 12 of them, has been so extensively booby-trapped that police have determined they cannot safely defuse the devices, a police source said Friday.
Police now plan to detonate the devices using a robot, the source familiar with the matter told Reuters, but that may not occur for several hours.
Before performing any detonation, which they believe would likely be small in size, they plan to close down traffic on nearby streets, the source said.
Police have already evacuated the apartment building as well as several nearby buildings.
James Holmes, who was arrested after allegedly opening fire on hundreds of people watching a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises,” apparently also set some audio equipment at his apartment on a timer, a second law enforcement source close to the investigation said.
The timer set off some loud music later in the night.
“It was to turn the music on ... it was on a timer. It came on loudly obviously to create a call for noise disturbance. People would make entry and potentially (trigger) those explosive devices,” the second source said.
Police have been at the apartment, on the third floor of a red brick building located about four miles (six kilometers) from the Aurora movie theater where the shooting took place, since before dawn on Friday.
By late Friday evening, police and fire officials were seeking respite from the heat, several of them stretching out in the shade of the front porch of a nearby Mexican restaurant.
At an earlier press conference, Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates said: “His apartment is booby-trapped. We are trying to determine how to disarm the flammable or explosive material. We could be here for hours or days. The pictures are fairly disturbing. It looks very sophisticated, how it’s booby-trapped. It could be a very long wait.”
Using cameras inserted into the apartment through windows, police and fire officials determined the living room of the apartment was crisscrossed with trip wires connected to a number of plastic bottles containing an undetermined fluid, Aurora’s deputy fire chief, Chris Henderson, said.
“To tell you the truth we don’t know how extensive it is,” Henderson said. “There are several unknown devices along with the liter bottles.”
Additional reporting by Tim Gaynor in Phoenix; Editing by Eric Beech