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U. of Iowa rejected Colorado shooting suspect
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa rejected the suspect in the Colorado movie theater shooting rampage from a graduate neuroscience program last year because he was not considered “a good personal fit,” a spokesman said Thursday.
James Holmes applied to the Iowa program in late 2010 and was given an interview on Jan. 28, 2011, according to records released by the university. Neuroscience program director Daniel Tranel wrote a strongly worded email two days later urging the admissions committee not to accept Holmes to the school.
Psychology professor Mark Blumberg followed up with a separate email two days later to say he agreed with Tranel about Holmes, one of three students Blumberg interviewed. “Don’t admit,” he wrote about Holmes. He recommended admission for the other two.
Neither official elaborated on their reasoning in the emails, which are among 12 pages of records the university released about Holmes in response to public records requests filed by the Associated Press and other news outlets.
None of the documents further explain why Holmes‘ application was denied. University spokesman Tom Moore said Thursday that Holmes was academically qualified but officials did not see him as “a good personal fit for our program.” He declined to elaborate.
Holmes later enrolled as a first-year Ph.D. student in a neuroscience program at the University of Colorado Denver. He withdrew about six weeks before the attack in Aurora, where prosecutors say the 24-year-old opened fire during a midnight showing of the latest Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises,” killing 12 people and injuring 58 others.
A court hearing Thursday afternoon was expected examine Holmes‘ relationship with University of Colorado psychiatrist Lynne Fenton, to whom he mailed a package containing a notebook that reportedly contains violent descriptions of an attack.
Tranel’s email indicates Holmes was one of seven applicants who visited the Iowa City campus on the same weekend last year. Tranel recommended four others be offered admission and was undecided about two, describing all as stellar or solid. Holmes was the only one he recommended denying.
The rejection stands in contrast to Holmes‘ previously released application to a similar program at the University of Illinois, where he was offered admission with free tuition and $22,000 per year but declined to enroll.
Holmes said on his Iowa application that he also was applying to Texas A&M, Kansas, Michigan, Alabama and Colorado. He painted himself as a bright student interested in improving himself and helping the world with a career in scientific research.
He recalled his childhood in California, where everyone at his school wore white uniforms to curb gang activity.
“Looking back, my life could have gone in a completely different direction had I not possessed the foresight to choose the path of knowledge,” he said.
Holmes wrote that he was passionate about neuroscience and wanted to study “the science of learning, cognition and memory.” He said he would bring “my strong moral upbringing” to the program, along with an intense thirst for knowledge.
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