Aurora theater attack: James Holmes's aborted trip to a shooting range
Weeks before the Aurora theater shootings, something just didn't sit right with Glenn Rotkovich. It wasn't so much the weird outgoing message on the answering machine that troubled the gun range owner -- although he most certainly found that odd -- as the fact that the man now known as alleged mass murderer James Holmes didn't return Rotkovich's phone calls. Any of them. That was the instant red flag. Everybody calls back, usually within hours. Not Holmes, though. Not at all.
After surreptitiously amassing his arsenal, Holmes was looking for a place to take target practice, and his search lead him to Rotkovich's Lead Valley Range in Byers, an isolated, rural shooting range about an hour or so from Denver. According to Rotkovich, there was nothing unusual about Holmes's application. "The form came in. I got the form. The form was normal," recalls Rotkovich, sitting in the range's office trailer. "He e-mailed me a form for membership. There was nothing special. There was nothing different about it. He answered the questions right. Everything was filled out the way it should've been. There was no flags there.
"The problem came when -- our normal process is, is when we get a form like that, I end up calling them and saying everything's okay, "Rotkovich goes on. "I call the person and say, 'We're going to have orientation on this date at this time. Can you make that? Do you want to come out and finish up your membership?' That's the process. Nobody can use the range until they've gone through orientation. And the orientation is nothing more than: Here's the facilities, here's what we do, here's what goes on. Here's what you can't do. Here's the rules. This is the way it is, so that they know where they stand with what we're doing."
Dave Herrera The entrance to the Lead Valley Range in Byers.
Rotkovich says that when he called the number on Holmes's application -- a telephone number that matches the one listed on the killer's public records -- he was greeted by a bizarre, since-scrubbed voicemail greeting that was hard to understand ("it was a very guttural, bass sounding, rambling, incoherent"). He didn't pay much mind to that, he says, since we all have friends or people we call who have bizarre messages. What gave him pause was the notable lack of a response.
Clarence Hester The application form James Holmes submitted electronically to Lead Valley Range.
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