SAN DIEGO, California - At the Penasquitos Lutheran church where the family of accused gunman James Holmes is active, prayer messages of support for both the Holmes family and the 70 victims of Friday’s movie theater massacre hung on the walls.
Holmes allegedly opened fire inside a Colorado movie theater last week, killing a dozen and injuring another 58 moviegoers attending a midnight screening of the new Batman movie.
“We are standing with the Holmes family in prayer, to support them. We are also praying for the families of the victims, and those who have been traumatized by this situation. It is our hope that god will give them hope at this time,” associate pastor Greg Hoffmann told the media after Sunday church services.
Senior pastor Jerry Borgie said he has known the Holmes family for some 10 years, and the mother is a very active parishioner. He said he last spoke to James around 2006, as he began school at the University of California Riverside, and had no idea that Holmes was in Colorado until he heard about the shooting.
“He was a little bit on the quiet side. In one-to-one conversations it was obvious he was an intelligent young man and he had goals, professional. He had a field he was going to follow and as you got to know he did that. He graduated with honors and he went on to graduate school and that’s where I kind of lost track of him frankly,” recalled Borgie.
The upper middle class San Diego neighborhood of Rancho Penasquitos is nicknamed “Pinoy-quitos” with its high Filipino population. Many of them live in the same area as Holmes and attended the same school, Westview High school.
The quiet community known for its close-knit neighborhoods and high academic standards has been thrust into the national spotlight as a suspected mass murderer’s hometown.
“It’s kind of disheartening because Westview prides itself on academics and usually successful people come from there but if one bad thing happens, it’s known for that,” said recent Westview High graduate Paul Rodriguez.
“If there are people there that you could tell are like really different but I wouldn't expect anyone to do something like that crazy,” said Joel Rodriguez, a Westview High School graduate.
Eddy Bernardo graduated from Westview High School the same year as the alleged gunman’s sister, Chris. He currently attends University of California Riverside, where James graduated from.
“I knew of her (Chris). Not really knew much about her, or the family as well, all I knew was they lived close to some of our close friends,” said Bernardo.
Filipino parishioners at the Penasquitos Lutheran Church declined to speak to the media.
Associate Pastor Hoffmann said the church is planning a prayer vigil for all those involved in Last Friday’s Colorado movie theater massacre.
Media has camped out at Holmes’ childhood neighborhood throughout the weekend hoping to speak to Holmes’ mother Arlene.