The massacre in Aurora, Colorado at the midnight premiere of Dark Knight Rises last Friday may go down in history as one of the nation's most painful collective memories. But for the family of James Holmes, the alleged perpetrator of this horrific, senseless attack, it will be something else. It will be the day the world started to see them as villains.
The family has understandably been silent on the accusations against their son, but they did speak out through a lawyer on Monday saying only that they stand by their son. There was more, too.
Lawyer and family spokeswoman Lisa Damiani told reporters at the press conference that the family is keeping it together "as well as anyone could under the circumstances." See below:
Damiani also said:
I think everyone can imagine how they're feeling ... Anyone who's ever been a parent.
But can we, really? My children are very young (both under 6) and likely won't commit any crimes for years (or ever, I hope), but it's hard to imagine wanting to support someone (anyone!) accused of such a crime whether he was my child or not.
Does this make me an awful mom?
It's an awful crime, both tragic and senseless, and Holmes' mother has every right to support her child. But she is in an awful position. His entire family is in a terrible position.
For 24 years they have supported and loved Holmes. They have watched him thrive in school, earning degrees and excelling in academics. They have probably held him while he was sick and sat at his graduation ceremonies, first high school, then college.
No one in their right mind expects that the child they raised might one day commit such a horrific act. I am sure they are asking themselves what they might have done wrong to raise a child who could allegedly do something like this.
The answer: maybe it's nothing they did. It's a terrifying truth, but the truth nonetheless. Sometimes people have mental illness and a sickness inside them that even the best parents in the world can't combat.
I am not saying they are without fault. We don't know enough about his upbringing to say either way. But I do feel for them. We all want to believe the best about our children and, failing that, we want to love them and help them through their mistakes. Even when their mistakes are epic in scale.
My heart breaks for every victim of this tragedy. But there is no doubt that Holmes' family members are victims, too. He hurt them terribly with his alleged crimes and it's all far from over.
Could you stand by your son if he was accused of something like this?