It may seem cliche to discuss the Aurora, Colorado shooter on the day of his first court appearance, but it has quickly gained so much press and national attention that I feel it is worth mentioning the implications of the surrounding statements by parties who are closely related to the incident. On the morning after the incident, a Huffington Post article discusses a very controversial statement made by Robert Holmes’ mother. “You have the right person,” she said. “I need to call the police… I need to fly out to Colorado.” From this statement, it seems as though his mother is admitting his guilt, and it further seems as though she is not surprised by his behavior. From a public relations perspective, this is a complete disaster as it could have implications on the way her son’s actions are perceived. Additionally, she made this comment without having full knowledge of the allegations, so she should not have said anything at all which would elude to an admission of guilt or innocence as the words can be used against her and her son at a later time.
Based on the ever-evolving details and information acquired from news sources, it appears that Holmes will attempt to plead insanity or that he is mentally ill, as can be further determined from his appearing in court with orange hair and a sad demeanor. If one evaluates the statement by the mother, it could seem that a plea of insanity would be unbelievable as based on the statement, she did not sound shocked or taken aback, rather it seemed as though she expected this type of behavior from her son which would indicate that he did not act in a moment of insanity which is uncharacteristic of him as a person. Further information shows that the act was premeditated as Holmes had stockpiled weapons and ammunition over the past several months.
Today, July 23rd, a press conference was held in San Diego to give a statement by the Holmes family. Lisa Damiani, a lawyer for the Holmes family, explained that the news conference was called to clarify statements that Arlene Holmes, James’ mother, made to ABC in the hours immediately following the massacre.
In reference to the statement Arlene Holmes had made at 5:45am to ABC where she said, “You have the right person…”, Damiani read, “I was referring to myself. I asked him to tell me why he was calling and he told me about a shooting in Aurora. He asked for a comment. I told him I could not comment because I did not know if the person he was talking about was my son.”
As a student of Communication, these statements cause me to be especially concerned for the family, as with the seriousness of the allegations and the amount of proof readily available that he was the killer and had planned the crime beforehand, the last thing the prosecutor needs is further details which will directly link Holmes to his crime, and these implications by his mother are simply a terrible addition to the case.