Neighbors and friends in San Diego, where Holmes grew up, described him as brilliant and sometimes awkward but never displaying signs of violence. He entered the prestigious Colorado program in June 2011, but a year later he dropped out after taking a year-end oral exam.
Numerous media organizations, including the Associated Press, filed open-records requests for school records about Holmes after he was named as the suspect in the shooting.
But in an order signed Monday and released by the school Thursday, District Judge William Blair Sylvester said providing information in response to requests filed under the Colorado Open Records Act would “impede an ongoing investigation.”
Sylvester is overseeing the criminal case against Holmes, who is expected to appear in court Monday and be formally charged.
The judge cited a provision of the Colorado Open Records Act that prevents the public from viewing open records “prohibited by . . . the order of any court.”
Arapahoe County District Attorney Carol Chambers requested the order after the University of Colorado at Denver warned her office Saturday about the record requests. In its request to the court, the district attorney’s office noted that reporters were not requesting educational records, which would be prohibited from being released, but e-mails that are not exempted from the open-
The order was not part of the publicly available case file until Thursday because of a clerical error, said Robert McCallum, a spokesman for the courts.
Sylvester already had issued a gag order barring attorneys and police from discussing the case with reporters. He has also sealed the case file, preventing the public from seeing the accusations and legal arguments that both sides will make.
Mark Caramanica, freedom-of-information director at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in Arlington, Va., called the order “highly unorthodox.” He said it was unusual that a public institution would consult with an outside entity instead of just following the law and answering the request. “It seems very premature for a court to get involved and make such a sweeping order,” Caramanica said. “It seems like a very broad and overly aggressive approach.”
The judge’s order follows a pattern of a tightly controlled flow of information since the assault. Hours after the shooting, university officials tried to limit information released about Holmes.
About 11 hours after the attack, Barry Shur, dean of the graduate school at the university, sent an e-mail to faculty, students and staff saying: “If anyone is contacted by the media, PLEASE refer them” to a school spokeswoman. Shur’s e-mail was released in response to an open-records request from the AP.
Earlier this week, Shur denied trying to prohibit those who knew Holmes from talking.
“We told them they are fully free to interact with the media,” he said at a news conference Monday.
Meanwhile, funeral services were held Thursday in Denver for one of the victims, Micayla Medek, 23. Mourners wore pink ribbons, some with Hello Kitty faces on them, in honor of her fondness for the color and the character.
Her young second cousin, Kailyn Vigil, sobbed and some family members had to be supported as Medek’s coffin was placed in the hearse.
Medek attended Aurora Community College and worked at a Subway sandwich shop. Family members described her as loving and independent-minded.
Visitation was held Thursday for another victim, Alex Sullivan, who was described as a gentle man with a glowing smile. His funeral will be private, and no details have been released.
Meanwhile, the body of a former Reno, Nev., resident who died in the shooting was being flown home to be buried.
The family of 26-year-old Navy veteran Jonathan Blunk said his body is to arrive Friday at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, KOLO-TV reported. Blunk graduated from Reno’s Hug High School in 2004. His funeral is scheduled for Aug. 3.
— Associated Press