Orange-haired shooter turned heads at Colorado gun range

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — A man with fiery orange hair was such an odd sight when he showed up at a gun range in the summer of 2012 that two volunteer supervisors went to talk to him, one of the volunteers testified Monday at the trial of Colorado theater gunman James Holmes.

"That really flagged us," said Theodore Maples Jr., who volunteered at the state-owned Byers Canyon Rifle Range.

Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. didn't allow Maples to recount the conversation after the defense objected to a prosecution question about what was said.

Maples didn't say who the man was, but the reddish-orange hair and weapons he fired matched descriptions of Holmes and his arsenal.

Holmes opened fire with a shotgun, an AR-15 assault rifle and a semi-automatic Glock handgun at a suburban Denver theater on July 20, 2012, during a midnight showing of a new Batman movie, according to testimony in the week-old trial.

Twelve people died and 70 were injured.

Holmes' attorneys acknowledge he was the shooter but say schizophrenia distorted his sense of right and wrong. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Prosecutors say Holmes knew what he was doing and should be convicted. They're seeking the death penalty.

Holmes had reddish-orange hair when he was arrested, but it has since turned a more natural brown.

Maples testified that he saw the orange-haired man twice at the Byers Canyon range about a 2 1/2-hour drive from Denver. Maples said he thought the man showed up in June of 2012 but he couldn't remember the date.

Maples said he listened as his wife, who also volunteered at the gun range, spoke to the man.

The man had a shotgun and a rifle that looked like an AR-15, Maples said. The man also used the facility's pistol range, though Maples didn't describe the weapon used there.

The man's hair was the only thing memorable about him, and "it really stood out," Maples said. "If he hadn't had that hair, he would have been like anyone else," he said.

Earlier Monday, prosecutors played a recording of a call from Holmes' cellphone to the University of Colorado hospital switchboard moments before the attack. An operator answered, but the caller didn't respond.

Holmes had been a student at the university and was treated by a university psychiatrist before the shootings.