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Colorado suspect ‘set booby traps’

AFP-JIJI

Relatives wept in court Tuesday as frantic 911 calls were played from a U.S. theater shooting that killed 12 people last year, as prosecutors closed their case for the alleged gunman to face trial.

The court heard how suspected killer James Holmes purchased 6,000 rounds of ammunition in the months before last July’s shooting in Colorado, and rigged up booby traps at his apartment.

Defense lawyers will call witnesses Wednesday, the third day of hearings, to decide if there is enough evidence for Holmes to go on trial. They are expected to highlight his mental instability as a possible reason he should not do so.

FBI bomb technician Garrett Gumbinner said Holmes told investigators after being arrested that he had booby-trapped his apartment, in an attempt to draw emergency responders away from the theater shooting site. Officers found a trip wire at the door of his home, rigged to set off flame and sparks that would catch the gasoline-soaked carpet on fire.

There were 152 mm fireworks shells filled with improvised thermite, a hot-burning explosive. “You can’t put it out with water,” Gumbinner told Judge William Sylvester. There were also three containers of improvised napalm, 11 bottles of gasoline and other chemicals intended to act as fire accelerants, he said.

Curious behavior by Holmes during police questioning was also recounted: At one point he tried to stick a metal staple into a power socket. At another he played hand puppets with gloves that had been put on him to preserve evidence.