[PHOTO -James Holmes, the 24 year-old suspect in the mass shooting, was studying neuroscience in a Ph.D. program at the University of Colorado-Denver graduate school. A gas mask, believed to have been worn by Holmes, was marked as the first piece of evidence in the criminal investigation outside the parking lot behind the Century 16 movie theater. (University of Colorado, Karl Gehring/The Denver Post)]

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA, JULY 23, 2012 (ABS-CBN) By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau - As police searched the Colorado apartment of suspected mass murderer James Holmes, media in San Diego waited outside the house of Holmes’ parents hoping to speak to Arlene Holmes, the mother.

A woman in what appeared to be in nurse scrubs did leave the home. She did not speak as she was escorted by police to her car. Neither police nor neighbors would confirm if she was Arlene Holmes.

With a high concentration of Filipinos in the region, San Diego's Rancho Penasquitos area is nicknamed "Pinoy-quitos."

Filipinos said the upper-middle-class area is known for good schools and friendly neighborhoods.

Realtor Daughlet Ordinario once lived around the corner from where Holmes grew up. Though she walked the area frequently, she never noticed him.

“My heart goes to the victims of the massacre. Yes, I used to live on Bavarian, which is the cross street of Sparren. We used to pass that everyday, our children passed that to go to school,” Ordonario said.

Cecil Camaclang has lived in the area for 30 years and his walking routine also takes him past the Holmes residence on Sparren Avenue.

He said he has never noticed the family and said that nothing as tragic as the Colorado movie theater massacre has been linked to his neighborhood.

“It's really shocking the way it happened. You'd never expect a guy who come from Rancho Penasquitos to be going over there,” she said.

Two miles away from the Holmes residence, locals at a popular Filipino hangout, Orient Valley Filipino cuisine, said they can't believe that a Rancho Penasquitos resident could be capable of such violence.

“It does make you have a little sense of just looking over your shoulder right now like who's this guy what's he going to do, just goes to show you don't really know somebody just by looking at him,” said Miles Leones.

Balitang America has spoken to Filipino Westview alumni who said they remember Holmes as the quiet, smart kid.

These recent Westview graduates, meantime, said the crime is even more shocking because students in their school have a reputation of staying away from trouble.

“It's just weird coming from our school because everyone is perfect you'd think. Everyone is smart, taking AP,” said Shyla Vasvoni, a Westview graduate.

Holmes remains in police custody after he was reported to have shown up at a midnight screening of the latest Batman movie in Aurora, Colorado and opened fire at the packed theater, killing 12 people and hurting 59 other moviegoers.

At least one Filipino-American Ryan Lumba was among those injured.

Though the gunshots were fired a thousand miles away, the pain and concern is strong in Holmes' hometown, with many of the locals now questioning what could turn a quiet kid from a quiet neighborhood into a suspected mass murderer.


Fil-Am teen among Denver injured By Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) Updated July 22, 2012 12:00 AMComments (0)

[PHOTO-Ryan Lumba and his friends were among the moviegoers who packed the midnight premier of the new Batman film at Century 16 Theater in Aurora, when a masked attacker, identified as James Holmes, 24, shot at least 12 people dead and wounded 59 others.]

Manila, Philippines - A Filipino-American teenager was one of those injured when a gunman opened fire on Friday at a Colorado movie theater playing the new Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises,” the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed yesterday.

DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco reported that Ryan Lumba, 17, was among those injured and admitted to the University of Colorado Hospital.

“The Consulate received a report that a Fil-Am was one of those injured and had been admitted to one of the local hospitals in the Aurora area. However, no specific information could be released,” Hernandez said in a text message to The STAR.

In an ABS-CBN report, Lumba’s mother Remy said her son, who remains unconscious was shot in the stomach and underwent surgery.

Aurora is a suburb of the city of Denver, Colorado, 32 kilometers from the scene of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, in which two students shot dead 13 people before committing suicide.

Other Asians who were injured during the shooting incident include three Indonesians, Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa reported yesterday.

“Three Indonesian nationals were injured in the incident. It’s a father, a mother and their son,” he said.

Natalegawa added the 15-year-old son and the mother were being treated for gunshot wounds while the father only suffered a bruise on his left eye.

Police said Holmes was arrested soon after the massacre, although the motive of the assailant remains unknown.

A federal law enforcement official said Holmes bought a ticket to the show, went into the theater as part of the crowd and propped open an exit door as the movie was playing.

Several survivors remarked on their initial confusion as the attack unfolded that the silhouetted gunman dressed in black, wearing a helmet, body armor and a gas mask as he stepped through a side door, was part of a stunt in the movie.

“I thought it was showmanship. I didn’t think it was real,” Jennifer Seeger, one of the shooting survivors, said.

“He looked like an assassin ready to go to war,” said Jordan Crofter, one of the moviegoers unhurt in the attack.

“All I saw is the door swinging open and the street lights behind, and you could see a silhouette,” Crofter, who was sitting on the left side of the theater and toward the front, added.

But then as he threw gas canisters that filled the packed suburban Denver theater with smoke and opened fire, people screamed and dove for cover.

Seeger, who was in the second row, about four feet from the gunman, ducked to the ground as the gunman shot people seated behind her.

“He would reload and shoot and anyone who would try to leave would just get killed,” Seeger recalled, adding that bullet casings landed on her head and burned her forehead.

Within minutes, frantic emergency services calls brought some 200 police officers, ambulances and emergency crews to the theater.

Holmes was captured in the parking lot.

According to Aurora police chief Dan Oates, Holmes used a military-style semi-automatic rifle, a shotgun and a pistol.

“My understanding is all weapons he possessed, he possessed legally. All ammunition he possessed, he possessed legally,” Oates told a news conference, adding that he had purchased four guns at local gun shops within the past 60 days and bought 6,000 rounds of ammunition.

Suspect described as ‘a loner, shy’

Meanwhile, neighbors described Holmes as a “loner” often seen carrying guns to and from his home.

“He was always wearing camouflage pants and a hat,” said Gabriel Macias, a Mexican who works at a meat factory. He recalled seeing Holmes carrying guns and weapon cases to and from his apartment.

“We did not know him well because he talked to nobody. He was always locked up behind his door,” said Macias.

Melvin Evans, a security guard from a nearby building, said he occasionally saw Holmes at a local bar.

“He was always by himself. Looked like a nice guy,” said Evans, 33. “I go to the bar every Sunday for karaoke. I’ve seen him there every now and then. We would talk sometimes, the weather, you know.”

A student, who only gave his name as Ben, said Holmes kept to himself and would not say hello or acknowledge other people in the hallway.

Ben also revealed he had called police shortly after midnight – coincidentally around the time of the massacre at a Batman premiere – to report a song blaring from inside Holmes’ apartment.

Ben could not make out the song, but it appeared to be playing on repeat.

Tom Mai, a next-door neighbor of the Holmes family in San Diego, remembered Holmes as a shy teenager who did not play or socialize with other youngsters in the neighborhood, the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper said.

“He said that he last saw him two years ago when he came home during summer recess from college,” it said on its website. The family, he said, “was nice and involved with a Presbyterian church.”

On Friday morning, police escorted Holmes’ father, a manager of a software company, from their home while his mother, a nurse, stayed inside, receiving visitors who came to offer support. Holmes also has a younger sister.

“As you can understand, the Holmes family is very upset about all of this,” Lt. Andra Brown, the San Diego police spokeswoman, told reporters in the driveway of the family home. “It’s a tragic event and it’s taken everyone by surprise. They are definitely trying to work through this.”

Police released a statement from his family that said: “Our hearts go out to those who were involved in this tragedy and to the families and friends of those involved.”

Holmes’ family said they were cooperating with investigators.

The FBI described Holmes as a white male, 6-foot-3 (1.9 meters) tall, born on Dec. 13, 1987, with no significant criminal record and no links to terrorism.

Police in Aurora, Colorado, told reporters records showed that the shooting suspect’s only infringement in the city was a speeding ticket in 2011.

Holmes graduated from University of California, Riverside, in the spring of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience, a school spokesman said.

Mai said the mother told him Holmes could not find a job after earning a master’s degree and returned to school.

He enrolled in the Ph.D. neuroscience program at the University of Colorado-Denver in June 2011 but left the program last month, according to the university. – With AP

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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