James Holmes' CU psychiatrist was concerned he spoke, fantasized about killing people, sources say

Dr. Lynn Fenton decided against mental health hold

DENVER - Sources familiar with the Aurora theater shooting investigation say that in early June James Holmes, who was being treated by a University of Colorado psychiatrist, began talking, speculating, and fantasizing about killing  "a lot of people."

On June 11th, some six weeks before the massacre at the Aurora movie theater, Dr. Lynn Fenton was so concerned that she called the University of Colorado police department asking for a background check on Holmes. On the same day, Dr. Fenton made a series of calls to members of the University threat assessment team, also known as the BETA team, concerned about Holmes being a possible threat. 

Sources now tell CALL 7 Investigator John Ferrugia that Dr. Fenton told the CU police officer, who was also a contact for the BETA team, that she was concerned because James Holmes had been talking about killing a lot of people. 

Fenton was so concerned about the potential threat that she broke her doctor-patient confidentiality, giving the officer Holmes' name so the officer could run the criminal background check. 

Holmes had no criminal background or any history of violence. 

Sources confirm this was one of at least two calls Dr. Fenton made to the the police officer concerning Holmes on June 11th.

In the last call, sources say, the CU officer asked Dr. Fenton if she wanted Holmes detained for a 72-hour mental health evaluation.  As his psychiatrist, Fenton could order such a hold.

The officer had no legal reason to order such a hold herself, and sources say had deferred to the doctor's judgment.

Dr. Lynn Fenton told the officer that Holmes had put in his notice that he was withdrawing from the University, according to sources familiar with the investigation. Sources told Ferrugia that Dr. Fenton noted that the hold was not necessary, in part, because Holmes was leaving the campus anyway.   

As CALL 7 Investigator John Ferrugia previously reported, that is also why members of the university's threat assessment team dropped the issue. Since Holmes was leaving the campus, sources said they no longer considered him a student and did not think they had authority over him.

The obvious question in all this: If Holmes had not given notice that he was leaving the campus, would Dr. Lynn Fenton had him detained?

Sources familiar with the investigation confirm the female campus officer kept notes of the conversation with the psychiatrist and she notified her police supervisor.  While no official report was filed, sources say the notes were kept for a period under normal department procedures.

What now seems apparent is why Dr. Lynn Fenton felt she had to take the serious step of breaking doctor-patient confidentiality which is potentially a federal crime. She was clearly concerned that Holmes' discussion of killing a lot of people could possibly put those on campus in jeopardy.

Holmes allegedly opened fire into a packed Aurora movie theater on July 20, killing 12 people and injuring 58 others.

University of Colorado released thousands of documents regarding James Holmes Wednesday and other CALL7 investigators spent the afternoon reading through them. Read about those documents.

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