At the most recent hearing in the case of Aurora theater shooter, a prosecutor maintained that attack survivors need anonymity because of potentially frightening interest in them by online supporters of accused killer James Holmes. An administrator of the most prominent James Holmes is Innocent Facebook page rejects the suggestion that anyone in her group should be feared, but doesn't dismiss the possibility among other ones.
Here's an excerpt from Melanie Asmar's coverage of the aforementioned hearing, which took place last Thursday, October 11:
Prosecutors say victims of the Aurora theater shooting are "severely concerned" about their own safety and for that reason, the names of all victims and witnesses in the case should be kept secret. The argument came in response to a request from several media outlets to release the names of victims whose identities have been redacted from court documents.
Victims are afraid to go into their backyards because there are "helicopters trying to take pictures of their minor children," said prosecutor Lisa Teesch-Maguire at a court hearing this morning. Other victims have had their pictures posted on a Facebook page maintained by supporters of accused shooter James Holmes, she said.
A screen capture showing the interior of the Aurora Century 16, where the shooting took place.
We shared these passages with the administrator of the James Holmes is Innocent page, which stands out from several other Holmes tribute pages (and fan groups that call themselves Holmies) due to its nine rules of conduct. As we've reported, these regs feature a special emphasis on trolls, who are told at the outset that cruel comments or attacks (especially those inspired by bigotry or racism) won't be tolerated and will lead to removal.
The administrator, corresponding via e-mail, hadn't about these claims, but she offers up an elaborate theory regarding them, surmising that "any helicopters taking pics of their kids are due to the case being a potential set-up. The people who may be responsible for the set-up probably want to keep an eye on the victims in case they might have seen or heard something that doesn't go along with the official story. Pics of their kids, etc., may be leverage to keep them quiet."
At the same time, she continues, "I can't imagine that anyone in our group has access to a helicopter. I don't know that anyone in the group knows any of their addresses, either," including that of Lynne Fenton, Holmes's former psychiatrist, who the prosecutor says is currently afraid to live at her house.
The administrator confirms that "we have put victims' photos on our page, but they are the same ones that have been all over the media," including Westword posts. "To my knowledge, we haven't had access to any photos that weren't public."
Do survivors have any reason to worry about the James Holmes is Innocent membership, which stands at just over 450 at this writing? No, the administrator replies.
"I don't see anyone in our group as a threat to any of the survivors," she maintains. "Ultimately, we are trying to find who is responsible if James is innocent in order to achieve justice for all involved.
"Obviously, there are people out there who think the victims may be actors," she continues, "but I don't consider any of them in the group threatening in any way. There are a few pages out there where the members seem pretty hostile towards the victims. We are not one of them, though."
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She adds, "We do a pretty good job of weeding out the crazies and now screen everyone that we allow in the group, since closing the group a few weeks ago."
More from our Aurora Theater Shooting archive: "James Holmes inspires Holmies fan groups: Real phenomenon or media overreaction?"