The theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, was a tragedy that left 12 dead and 70 injured, but according to documents released on Thursday, it all might have been avoidable.
Dr. Lynne Fenton, a University of Colorado psychiatrist who counseled James Holmes, warned police that Holmes was dangerous and unstable a month before the shooting. Holmes allegedly threatened and intimidated Fenton, forcing the psychiatrist to end the sessions. But that didn’t stop Holmes – he proceeded to send Fenton threatening text messages.
To her credit, Fenton didn’t sit on her thumbs. Fenton followed her legal obligation and reported the incident to local authorities.
This is where things get a little bit complicated. Immediately after the theater shooting, campus police claimed that they had never had contact with Holmes, who was a student at the University of Colorado. Campus Police Officer Lynn Whitten disagrees, stating that Fenton had contacted authorities well before the attack. The search warrant affidavit stated, “Dr. Fenton advised that through her contact with James Holmes she was reporting, per her requirement, his danger to the public due to homicidal statements he had made."
This revelation leaves politicians, family members of the victims, and Americans with one burning question: could the tragedy have been avoided?
On the one hand, it’s difficult to make the leap from an angry psychiatric patient to a homicidal maniac. Even if authorities had done their full due diligence, they still might not have collected enough evidence to prevent the shooting.
On the other and, though, there is no evidence to suggest that authorities made any attempt to investigate at all. University spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery said that the University could not comment because the school was still poring over court records. The lack of any sort of investigation would point to a major flaw in the university’s law enforcement system.
Politicians have been pushing legislation that would make it harder for mentally ill individuals to obtain firearms. Fenton’s warning leaves Americans to wonder, “What’s the point if nobody is going to bother following up on death threats, anyway?”