Uniformed sheriff's deputies were stationed outside, and deputies were positioned on the roofs of both court buildings at the Arapahoe County Justice Center in Centennial, south of Denver.
James Holmes, 24, is being held in solitary confinement in jail on suspicion of first-degree murder. On Monday morning, he was moved to a nearby courtroom for his first court appearance. Charges are expected to be formally filed next Monday.
Nineteen-year-old Marqece Phillips, a friend of shooting victim A.J. Boik, went to court hoping to get a seat to watch Holmes' appearance. Phillips was watching "The Dark Knight Rises" on a nearby screen the night of the shooting and rushed to the rampage site before the shooter left.
"I want to go see him and see his face. I seen his eyes through that mask," Phillips said before the hearing. "I want him to see the pain in our eyes, to see what we're going through."
Phillips said he's had recurring nightmares about Holmes since the rampage Friday.
"Maybe it will put some kind of peace to me to think, `OK, they got him, they got him, they got him,"' he said.
Authorities say Holmes is refusing to cooperate and that it could take months to learn what prompted the attack that killed 12 and injured 58 moviegoers at a Batman film premiere Friday.
Holmes grew up in San Diego. He enrolled last year in a neuroscience Ph.D. program at the University of Colorado-Denver, but school officials say he recently left the program.