Colo. theater shooting victims being harassed
- Article by: DAN ELLIOTT
- Associated Press
- February 7, 2013 - 3:42 PM
DENVER - Victims and witnesses in the Colorado theater shootings have been pestered by conspiracy theorists, impersonated in court filings and had their addresses and phone numbers posted online, prosecutors said.
In a document made public late Wednesday, District Attorney George Brauchler said some victims are concerned for their safety because of the unwanted attention.
Brauchler asked District Judge William Sylvester to ensure the victims' and witnesses' names are redacted from any documents released in the future, although many were identified in previously released court filings and some have granted media interviews, called news conferences or appeared at public events.
Brauchler said it is important to accommodate the victims' and witnesses' wishes because the prosecution's case requires the cooperation of some of them.
James Holmes is accused of killing 12 people and wounding 70 at a theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora on July 20. He is scheduled to enter a plea next month.
In a court filing dated Tuesday, Brauchler said some victims have been subjected to "relentless contacts by proponents of purported `conspiracies.'"
He also said maps with the addresses and phone numbers of victims have been posted online, and some people allegedly impersonating victims and witnesses have filed court motions in the case.
Brauchler didn't identify the victims of the alleged harassment or the suspected perpetrators or offer further details. His spokeswoman didn't immediately return a call.
Aurora police received a handful of reports of calls to victims and survivors from people who claimed to know who committed the shootings and why, police spokesman Frank Fania said.
Fania said police did not consider the calls to be harassment and the callers did not break any laws.
Tom Sullivan, whose son, Alex, was killed, said someone talking about space aliens tried to contact him about the theater shootings through his union, the American Postal Workers.
Shelly Lucido, president of the union's Aurora local, said the man called her espousing "almost body-snatcher stuff" and wanted to be put in contact with Sullivan. She refused.
"It was really, really weird," said Lucido, who reported the call to police.
Sylvester has barred attorneys and investigators from speaking publically about the case and sealed many documents. Holmes' lawyers are attempting to compel a Fox News reporter to disclose her sources for a story describing the contents of a notebook Holmes sent to a psychiatrist. The defense contends the leaks violated the judge's gag order.
The secrecy surrounding details of the case have prompted numerous objections and requests for information from media outlets.
The city of Aurora has also asked Sylvester to reconsider his secrecy orders, saying they became moot when prosecutors outlined their case against Holmes during a preliminary hearing in January.
Attorneys for the city said city officials have received requests from emergency responders in other cities for details on how they managed the response to the massacre, and from media, academics and individuals seeking recordings of 911 calls and other information.
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