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James Holmes: Timeline of CU e-mails in twelve hours after shooting shows confusion, fear

How did faculty and staff at the University of Colorado, where accused Aurora theater shooter James Holmes was a neuroscience student, react the morning of July 20? We've put together a timeline of e-mails culled from the 3,800 released this week by CU. The e-mails, which you can read below, are from the first twelve hours after Holmes allegedly opened fire at a sold-out midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises, killing twelve people.

CU released e-mails containing the name "James Holmes" on Wednesday in response to requests from several media outlets.

At 6:41 a.m. on July 20, Sergeant Jason Mollendor of the police department at Auraria Campus, where part of the University of Colorado-Denver is located, asked staff to check their student records for a James Holmes.

E-mail July 20 6:41 a.m.

Six minutes later, Angie Ribera, the director of the neuroscience program, sent an e-mail to program administrator Cammie Kennedy, wondering if it was the Holmes they knew.

E-mail July 20 6:47 a.m.

An hour later, Ribera had her confirmation.

E-mail July 20 7:46 a.m.

Ribera soon expressed concern for the safety of CU students who knew him.

E-mail July 20 7:50 a.m.

By 8:30 a.m., the media had figured out he was a CU student.

E-mail July 20 8:31 a.m.

Continue for more of our James Holmes-CU e-mail timeline.

Just before 9 a.m., Jenny-Lynn Ellis, a counselor at the CU-Denver Counseling Center and a key member of the Behavioral Evaluation and Threat Assessment Team, e-mailed colleagues "on the off chance he was a client of ours." It would later be revealed that a psychiatrist who was seeing Holmes reported him to the BETA Team.

E-mail July 20 8:53 a.m.

Kennedy soon sent an e-mail to faculty and students "to meet at 10 a.m. to discuss James Holmes." She asked that they not post anything on Facebook or Twitter.

E-mail July 20 8:58 a.m.

E-mails from the media began to pour in after 9 a.m.

E-mail July 20 9:20 a.m.

At 9:30 a.m., molecular biology professor Lee Niswander sent an e-mail to a colleague wondering if Holmes had been kicked out of the neuroscience program.

E-mail July 20 9:30 a.m.

By then, the media was reaching out to professors who knew Holmes. One of the first to be inundated with interview requests was associate professor Jason Tregellas, in whose class Holmes had reportedly done a presentation on "MicroRNA Biomarkers."

E-mail July 20 9:36 a.m.

Continue for more of our James Holmes-CU e-mail timeline.

At 9:56 a.m., CU spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery sent out a short statement confirming that Holmes had been a student there. The e-mail included a photo of him.

E-mail July 20 9:56 a.m.

Here's the photo.

E-mail July 20 9:56 a.m. (photo)

A few minutes later, Roberta Aberle, whose LinkedIn profile lists her profession as a senior analytical consultant for the University of Colorado, sent an e-mail to a colleague with this message: "Don't know him, but wouldn't want to if this is valid information."

E-mail July 20 9:58 a.m.

That colleague, Elizabeth Luzier, a nurse and research assistant for the anesthesiology department at CU's medical school, replied with a realization of her own: "He could have done this on campus instead of the movies."

E-mail July 20 10:04 a.m.

Just after 10 a.m., rumors were already circulating among CU staff that Holmes had failed his preliminary exams in June, which prosecutors have said is true and may have contributed to what happened next.

E-mail July 20 10:06 a.m.

Continue for more of our James Holmes-CU e-mail timeline.

At 10:21, Christina Aguilera, the manager of environmental compliance for CU's department of environmental health and safety, e-mailed CU police chief Doug Abraham to tell him Holmes used the school's labs and invite him to check if any chemicals were missing. Holmes told police he'd booby-trapped his apartment with explosives.

E-mail July 20 10:21 a.m.

CU officials were soon drafting talking points to answer the media's questions.

E-mail July 20 10:31 a.m.

By 10:30 a.m., word that Holmes was a student was making its way around campus.

E-mail July 20 10:35 a.m.

At 11:10 a.m., computational bioscience professor Larry Hunter sent an e-mail to a colleague indicating that Holmes had a "brief romantic relationship" with a graduate student in Hunter's program. "She knows, and is pretty freaked out," he said.

E-mail July 20 11:10 a.m.

Five minutes later, a recipient of Hunter's e-mail replied with a question that's still on many people's minds: "Do people think he was unstable before this happened?"

E-mail July 20 11:15 a.m.

Hunter responded, indicating Holmes had been rejected from a colleague's lab.

E-mail July 20 11:18 a.m.

Continue for more of our James Holmes-CU e-mail timeline.

At 11:41 a.m., police chief Abraham asked all non-essential personnel to leave a certain part of the campus so police using specially trained dogs could make sure it was safe.

E-mail July 20 11:41 a.m.

Faculty and staff continued to wonder about Holmes's state of mind.

E-mail July 20 11:46 a.m.

Meanwhile, the dean of the graduate school, Barry Shur, sought details about Holmes's status as a student and when he'd begun the process of withdrawing from CU.

E-mail July 20 11:57 a.m.

And staff continued to share rumors, including this tidbit about Holmes's mom.

E-mail July 20 11:59 a.m.

More from our Aurora Theater Shooting archive: "James Holmes: CU releases 3,800 e-mails about him, to him and written by him."

Follow me on Twitter @MelanieAsmar or e-mail me at melanie.asmar@westword.com