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Classmates, Friends Call Colo. Massacre Suspect ‘Weird,’ ‘Quiet’

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RIVERSIDE (CBS) —A former UC Riverside classmate of the Aurora, Colo., massacre suspect remembered him as very smart and a little weird, but said she never thought he was capable of going on a killing rampage.

“He was a very nice guy,” said Jessica Cade, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Cade was referring to 24-year-old James Holmes, who was in police custody Friday after allegedly killing 12 people and injuring 59 others at a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” in a multiplex movie theater.

As of Saturday morning, 11 victims were said to be hospitalized in critical condition. Dozens more are being treated for gunshot wounds and other injuries suffered during the mayhem.

Cade, 23, said Holmes was “very, very smart; a little weird like you’d expect a really smart guy to be.”

According to the Press-Enterprise, she said the suspect was “someone I knew and saw at least a few times a week. I couldn’t believe he would do this and (that) someone could commit such a heinous act.”

Cade lived across the hall from Holmes in the UCR dorm and was in a science study group with him.

She recalled Holmes sometimes went out on the town with the group, but that he was generally quiet.

In pictures, she said, “It looks like we’re all having fun, but he’s always in the back.”

Kelly Huffman, an assistant professor of psychology at UCR, told the Los Angeles Times that Holmes did well in her Drugs and Behavior class in 2010, describing him as a “smart and quiet guy.”

CBS2’s Cristy Fajardo reported it’s tough to find anyone who knew the suspect well. During his time at the university, he lived in a 2-story building near campus. The complex has a high turnover, so most of the current residents weren’t living there when Holmes was a tenant.

However, one student did remember Holmes.

He said while everyone else was at the pool, Holmes was inside his apartment. And when approached, he would say “Hello,” but not engage in conversation.

As for the university, Chancellor Timothy P. White said they can’t disclose much because of privacy laws, but he described Holmes as an honor student.

“Academically, he was at the top of the top. He graduated with the highest honors,” White said.

Neighbors and old friends from Holmes’ former high school remember him as a nice, quiet guy, who liked Guitar Hero and other video games and was on the varsity soccer team. One old classmate said Holmes had a “sarcastic” sense of humor, but nothing that would be interpreted as “psychotic.”

Holmes, the son of a nurse and a software company manager, grew up in Rancho Penasquitos in San Diego and graduated from Westview High School in 2006. He attended UCR that same year on a merit-based scholarship and graduated with honors, earning a neuroscience degree in 2010. Holmes enrolled at the University of Colorado at Denver in June 2011, but had recently withdrawn from classes.

A resume posted on Monster.com said he worked as an intern at the prestigious Salk Institute in La Jolla and, at UCR, was a lab assistant in chemistry, cellular biology and neuroscience.

According to the resume, Holmes also was a counselor at Camp Max Straus during the summer of 2008. The nonsectarian camp, for children 7-12, is run by Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles.

At UCR, Holmes was a dean’s fellow, regent’s scholar and a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.

Counseling services were being made available to UCR students and staffers who may know Holmes or who wanted to talk about the tragedy.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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