HOUSTON - Police said when James Holmes, 24, burst into an Aurora, Colo. movie theater, he was geared up like a solider preparing for battle. One of the questions that followed that horror is, where did Holmes get all that gear?
"You can purchase it at gun shows, you can purchase it at Army/Navy places, you can purchase it at police supply stores," said Ray Hunt, president of the Houston Police Officers' Union.
Hunt said nothing Holmes had on him was illegal for a civilian to possess. In fact, it didn't take Local 2 Investigates long to track down the same type of gear; a helmet, gas mask, vest, gas canister, pistols and rifle. Everything sold either at gun or surplus and supply stores, or on the Internet.
"This country is all about letting people purchase whatever they want to purchase," said Hunt.
A quick check of pricing shows all of the abovementioned gear could be bought for roughly $3,000, depending on make and model of the equipment. Hunt argues it would be up to individual sellers as to determine whether a person is a potential threat.
"Where do you differentiate that this person is a nut and this person is just somebody whose preparing in the event that something happens," Hunt said.
"Even if it was illegal to have this gear, he would have it," said Brian Hoffner, president of Hoffner's Training Academy. "He's the bad guy."
Hoffner added how Holmes got the gear is secondary. Hoffner said many movie theater emergency exits are not equipped with audible alarms.
"That's probably something that can change for the better," said Hoffner. "Alarm those darn doors so someone like this nut can't ajar the door, which is typically behind the curtain, then go out there, gear up and come in through the exit."
While it may not always be possible, Hoffner suggests thinking about finding an aisle seat near exit during your next trip to the movies, or at the very least knowing exactly where the exits are located in case of any emergency.
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