Across the country last night, after months of anticipation, sold out crowds filled movie theaters to take in the midnight premiere of the latest Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises.” But the thrill of the movie’s release has been utterly dashed in the wake of the horrific shootings during a screening in Aurora, Colo., in which a lone gunman opened fire on the audience, shooting some 50 people, 12 fatally, authorities say.
At this point we know very little about the suspect in the shooting, James Holmes, 24, an Aurora resident. The Aurora Police Department released one statement earlier today, but it did not contain any information about a possible motive for the shooting or any indication of what Holmes has told police so far, if anything. Reports say Holmes’s only previous run-in with the law was a traffic ticket in 2011.
Inevitably, speculation has run rampant about the suspected shooter’s mental health. But one expert warns of making pronouncements until we know more. “It’s really preliminary, and at this point it’s hard to know what’s behind [the shooting],” says Alan Manevitz, M.D., a psychiatrist in private practice in New York City and an attending physician at Lenox Hill Hospital.
Manevitz says while attempts have been made in the past to create a profile that would help us identify potential rampaging gunmen, there simply isn’t one. “In the past we’ve seen people come from well-adjusted and well-to-do families, as well as from broken homes,” he says. “Some are loners and some have had friends. No one shooter fits a definitive psychological profile.” In Holmes’s case, Manevitz wonders if the young man has a previous psychological history or a history of threats, violence or psychotic thinking. “We don’t know any of that at this point.”