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Someone did call before Colorado shooting but didn't talk

Published August 31, 2012 7:04 pm

University hospital • Deck_here_with_period.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Someone did call the operator at the University of Colorado Hospital eight minutes before the July 20 massacre at an Aurora movie theater began — but the caller was silent and asked for no services, according to a hospital official.

An attorney for James Holmes in court on Thursday raised the suggestion that the suspected killer in the movie theater shooting called the hospital seeking out his psychiatrist, Lynne Fenton.

But hospital marketing director Brad Fixler on Friday said the hospital received no calls that day for Dr. Fenton or any psychiatrist.

"I do know that on July 20, at 12:31 a.m., we did receive a seven-second call," he said. "The caller said nothing and hung up. The switchboard operator answered and they hung up."

Aurora Police say emergency 911 calls began coming in from the Century Aurora 16 Theater at about 12:39 a.m. with frantic people reporting someone was shooting guns inside Theater 9.

In Thursday's court hearing, defense attorney Tamara Brady asked Fenton whether the main hospital phone number could be used to contact her after hours.

Fenton said she believed that it could be used to reach her.

Brady then asked: "Do you know whether James Holmes called that number nine minutes before the shooting started?"

"I don't know," Fenton said.

The prosecution asked Fenton whether patients are given another number it they need to reach her in an emergency. She said they are.

Holmes is suspected of walking into the Aurora theater at 12:39 a.m. and opening fire on the audience that had packed the cinema to view the premiere of the new Batman film, "The Dark Knight Rises."

Twelve people were killed and 58 were injured. Holmes, 24, is charged with 24 counts of first-degree murder and 116 counts of attempted murder.

The discussion came up at the end of Fenton's appearance in court during a hearing that focused on the

doctor-patient relationship between Fenton and Holmes and whether a notebook that Holmes mailed to her that arrived after the shooting should be considered privileged correspondence and not part of the court case against Holmes.

Prosecutors argued that Fenton's professional relationship with Holmes ended on June 11 and the CU psychiatrists had no contact with the former CU graduate student after that date.

Defense attorneys argued the professional relationship was ongoing and any communication between the two should be privileged. The sides will continue the discussion on Sept. 20.

The question of whether Holmes had tried to call Fenton before the shooting could have given weight to the argument that the doctor-patient relationship was still strong.