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James Holmes Bought Rifle After Failing College Exam

RJ Sangosti-Pool/Getty Images(DENVER) -- Accused movie theater gunman James Holmes purchased a high-powered rifle hours after failing a key oral exam at the University of Colorado, ABC News has learned.

Holmes added the weapon to his already growing arsenal on June 7, hours after he took a key oral exam at the college.  ABC News affiliate KMGH-TV in Denver reported that he failed the exam.  Three days later, he dropped out of the neurosciences program with no explanation.

Holmes, 24, is being held without bond in connection with the shooting, which left 12 people dead and 58 injured on July 20 during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises.

Experts say it's possible Holmes had an underlying mental illness that was triggered by the stress of failure.

"All of those things could actually make dormant schizophrenia come out, and come out relatively quickly," said Marisa Randazzo, a psychologist who studies targeted violence.

Using the kinds of guns Holmes allegedly fired requires training and practice, and law enforcement officials are now trying to figure out where and with whom.

For now, Holmes is being held in the Arapahoe County Jail.  Holmes' odd behavior was first seen by the public when he appeared in court Monday looking dazed, alternately bug-eyed and nodding with his eyes closing.

But ABC News has learned that his loopy court appearance was just one of several bizarre behaviors.

In the hours after his arrest Friday for the massacre at the Aurora, Colo., movie theater, Holmes stared at the wall in the Arapahoe Police Headquarters with his eyebrows twitching.

Holmes told police he was the fictitious Batman villain, the Joker, and when cops put evidence bags over his hands to preserve traces of gunpowder residue, he pretended the bags were puppets, law enforcement sources told KMGH-TV.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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