Batman Shooter James Holmes Told Police He Was ‘The Joker’

James Holmes, the 24-year-old former Ph.D. student who shot 71 people in a Colorado movie theater during The Dark Knight Rises, told police that he was The Joker from the Batman movies.

“It clearly looks like a deranged individual. He had his hair painted red, he said he was ‘The Joker,’ obviously the enemy of Batman,” said New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, a close friend of Aurora, Colorado police chief Dan Oates, who was a longtime member of the New York Police Department.

Though Holmes clearly is mentally unstable, his invoking the name of Batman’s arch-nemesis after committing one of the deadliest shooting in U.S. history is sure to re-ignite debate about the excessive violence in major Hollywood productions—violence that can obviously have an impact on viewers.

Of the 71 people who were shot at the Century 16 Theater at the Town Center Mall, 12 have died so far. One of the victims was hit by a bullet that went through the wall into an adjacent theater.

James Holmes had no criminal record beyond a traffic summons he got in October 2011. He went to high school in San Diego and withdrew from Colorado University, where he had been studying for his PhD in neuroscience since fall 2011.

Upon learning of the shooting, Holmes’s mother, who lives in San Diego, confirmed to ABC News that her son was the shooter, based on her instinct, saying “You have the right person.”

Later, Police Lt. Andra Brown in San Diego read a written statement from the Holmes family:

“Our hearts go out to those who were involved in this tragedy and to the families and friends of those involved. We ask that the media respect our privacy during this difficult time. Our family is cooperating with authorities in both San Diego, California, and Aurora, Colorado. We are still trying to process this information and we appreciate that people will respect our privacy.”

A man identified by police as James Holmes’s father left the San Diego home with law enforcement Friday morning, while his mother remained inside with other family members and friends who have come by offering support, Brown said.

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