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Crews Hopeful All Major Threats Removed From Booby-Trapped Apartment

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A crew working to deactivate booby traps in James Holmes' apartment (credit: CBS)

A crew working to deactivate booby traps in James Holmes’ apartment (credit: CBS)

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AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Officials say they have removed all major threats at the booby-trapped apartment of the Aurora movie theater shooting suspect on Saturday.

Aurora authorities obtained still pictures and video of the inside of the suspect’s apartment at 1690 Paris Street. They have used a robot to go inside James Holmes’ apartment.

Cassidee Carlson with Aurora police said Saturday morning crews were successful disabling the first threat in the apartment. They were able to disable a trip wire that was set to go off when the apartment door was opened.

“This is some serious stuff that our team is dealing with,” Carlson said.

Shortly before noon crews were successful performing a controlled detonation. It blew out what remained of a window and frame of the apartment. More controlled detonations were possible.

According to a source familiar with the case, there were multiple “trip” wires throughout the apartment. Investigators have also seen what appear to be mortars planted in the apartment — sort of the kind of mortars that might be seen in a commercial fireworks show. Up to a half dozen of them are scattered around.

Additionally, they have seen a number of inflated balloons in the apartment, like party balloons — some on the ground, some suspended in the air with many appearing to be filled with a powder. The balloons — at least five or six of them — appear to be linked together.

Also linked together are bottles of liquid. Officials say there is a strong smell of gasoline emanating from the apartment. Authorities have also spotted several boxes on top of the refrigerator and there are lights flashing on the boxes.

Investigators believe there are some 30 aerial shells (fireworks) commercially legally available for purchase. They are the size of softballs, black in color, and made of mostly rubber and investigators suspect the suspect may have filled them with smokeless powder. Depending on how he packaged it and how adept he was they could detonate or just burn.

Officials believe entering the apartment would have caused a trip wire to trigger one liquid container to pour/mix with another. When the two mix together, they set off the main charge of the device which may be additional flammable liquids. That causes the explosion and rapid spread of fire.

The apartment is about 800 square feet.

The devices will probably be put in dump trucks filled with sand and transported to a remote area where it will be counter charged or burned.

The entry, rendering safe is an enormously dangerous mission. About 100 personnel are on scene. The Aurora Fire Department, Adams County Sheriff’s Office, Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, Denver Police Department, FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Rural Metro Ambulance are all assisting.

Safety not time will dictate the mission.

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