James Eagan Holmes, charged with 12 murders in the July 20 “Dark Knight” shootings in Colorado, received a federal stipend of $21,600 for personal expenses, part of a grant from the federal National Institutes of Health. The federal grant of $176,000 supports six PhD students per year and the stipend of up to $26,000 is paid in 12 monthly installments.
Officials at the University of Colorado, where Holmes was enrolled in a PhD neuroscience program, declined to comment on the possibility that Holmes could have used the federal money to pay for his arsenal, which police have valued at $15,000. The 24-year-old Holmes had worked part-time at McDonald’s after earning his bachelor’s degree and lived in a one-bedroom apartment in Aurora, Colorado.
The National Institutes of Health, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, bills itself as “the nation’s medical research agency—Making important discoveries and save lives. Thanks in large part to NIH-funded medical research, Americans today are living longer and healthier.”
The NIH “invests over $30.9 billion annually in medical research for the American people. More than 80 percent of NIH’s funding is awarded through almost $50,000 competitive grants to more than 300,00 researchers at more than 2500 universities, medical schools and other research institutions in every state and around the world.”
The UC neuroscience program is highly regarded and accepts five or six students a year. All students receive a background check, which evidently turned up nothing on James Holmes, who will be charged with killing 12 and injuring 58.
The case raised an outcry over gun-control laws. Columnist David Brooks wrote that researchers at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “were unable to show the laws are effective.” To prevent murderous rampages, Brooks argued for better mental health programs.
University leaders covet federal grant money, which comes with strings attached. Schools that take the money are subject to federal rules such as Title IX. As the Holmes case suggests, federal grant money may not always fulfill its intended purpose.