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First-year students must take a three-part exam at the end of the academic year to move on in the program, University spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery said Saturday. Montgomery did not know whether Holmes had taken the exam.

As part of the program, Holmes had been listed as making a presentation in May about Micro DNA Biomarkers in a class named “Biological Basis of Psychiatric and Neurological Disorders.”

Mary Muscari, a criminology professor at Regis University in Denver who studies mass killings, said she was not surprised Holmes was studying neuroscience and mental disorders.

“It could be he was interested in that because he knows there’s something different in him,” said Muscari.

She said that several mass murderers are young men in late adolescent or early adulthood. “We’re talking about guys when they’re at that ago when they’re testosterone charged, their brains start developing, and it’s also when schizophrenia kicks in.”

Those who knew Holmes described him as a shy, intelligent person raised in California by parents who were active in their well-to-do suburban San Diego neighborhood. Holmes played soccer at Westview High School and ran cross-country before going to college.

Police said they would begin collecting the personal items left by panicked moviegoers in days and would move out of the theater by midweek. Shaken law enforcement officials urged residents to not stay home.

“I just don’t want the shameless and senseless act of one man to make this difficult for families to move on,” Aurora Fire Chief Mike Garcia said. “Go out. See a movie. Go out into your city. Don’t be afraid.”

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Associated Press contributors to this report include Kristen Wyatt, Steven K. Paulson, Ivan Moreno, P. Solomon Banda in Aurora; Dan Elliott, Nick Riccardi and Colleen Slevin in Denver; AP Entertainment Writer Jake Coyle in New York; M.L. Johnson in Chicago. Brian Skoloff in Salt Lake City; Monika Mathur and Jennifer Farrar at News Research Center in New York; and Alicia A. Caldwell and Eileen Sullivan in Washington.