Aurora residents begin to return to evacuated apartments

July 22, 2012 8:50:45 PM PDT
Many of the residents living near the alleged Aurora, Colorado, gunman's apartment are returning home after authorities say the hazards James Holmes left behind have been eliminated.

Police still had the apartment building Holmes lives in blocked off with crime tape Sunday evening, but neighbors in surrounding buildings were finally given a chance to go home.

As more and more families begin returning to the north Aurora neighborhood, many are still shocked they live so close to the suspected gunman at the center of the movie theater massacre at a midnight showing of the new Batman movie.

"You just never know who you live next to," neighbor Nichelle Gentry said.

Holmes lives on the third floor of an old apartment building on Paris Street. Gentry was among roughly 100 neighbors police forced to leave due to a bomb scare after Holmes' arrest Friday.

"Just blessed that, you know, nothing didn't blow up," Gentry said.

Neighbor Robert Martinez said he saw Holmes just hours before the shooting.

"I always warm up my car, and I seen this guy come out and smoke a cigarette, and he started looking down mostly," Martinez said. "You could feel something was on his mind. I didn't know the guy from nothing."

Martinez said he had no idea the suspect who referred to himself as "the Joker" to police had an apartment filled with booby traps and other explosive devices, according to police.

"After he took a couple of puffs near the front door, he started walking towards the parking lot and he just kept his head down, smoking his cigarette, like that," Martinez said.

Among evidence bomb experts began collecting from Holmes' apartment Saturday, we've now learned there was a Batman poster on the wall.

"I've been out of here since it started, and I'm glad to be home," Gentry said.

Police tell us it's possible they will be opening the last building to tenants again by Tuesday.

Stay with Eyewitness News for the latest developments in the Colorado shooting investigation as ABC13 reporters Demond Fernandez and Sonia Azad will continue their live reports from Aurora.


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