THE suspect in the Colorado theatre rampage was seeing a University of Colorado psychiatrist who studies schizophrenia, according to court records, in the first indication university officials were familiar with James Holmes's mental state.
And a senior police officer blamed the massacre at a Batman film premiere after a Maryland man who called himself ''a joker'' was committed to hospital after threatening to go on a shooting rampage.
Mr Holmes was a patient of Lynne Fenton, the medical director of student mental health services at the university, according to the suspect's lawyers.
Police say he carried out a methodically planned assault on moviegoers, using legally purchased guns. Twelve people died in the attack, and 58 were injured.
After the 2007 mass shooting that left 33 dead at Virginia Tech, the University of Colorado set up a special team to spot students who were suicidal or might pose a threat to others. There is no indication that the team had identified Mr Holmes as needing monitoring.
Mr Holmes sent a notebook to Dr Fenton some time before the shooting rampage, his lawyers said. The notebook included a journal of sorts and crude drawings depicting a mass gun attack, according to news reports. But whether the package reached the university before the tragedy is in dispute.
Mr Holmes's lawyers argued that his privacy and constitutional rights had been violated by media coverage and that investigators were not necessarily entitled to see the troubled student's communication with his psychiatrist.
In Maryland the police chief of Prince Georges County, Mark Magaw, said Neil Edwin Prescott had made several threats to colleagues, including: ''I'm a joker, I'm going to load my guns and blow everyone up.''
Police raided the man's apartment about 3.20am on Friday and found 25 guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
Asked by a reporter if the shooting threats were inspired by the mass killing in Colorado, Mr Magaw said: ''It's fairly obvious.''
The Washington Post,