Published July 20, 2012
ABC News and correspondent Brian Ross apologized Friday after Ross suggested on air that the Colorado mass shooting suspect could be tied to the Tea Party.
As the name of the suspect, identified as 24-year-old James Holmes, first emerged Friday morning, Ross reported on ABC News that he'd found a web page for a "Jim Holmes" on a Colorado Tea Party site.
"There is a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado, page on the Colorado Tea Party site as well, talking about him joining the Tea Party last year," Ross reported.
He added: "Now we don't know if this is the same Jim Holmes, but it's Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colo."
That man is not the same Jim Holmes. The Colorado Tea Party Patriots, whose website Ross was looking at, put out a statement criticizing Ross for even floating the possibility -- noting the Jim Holmes with the Tea Party group is 52 years old and not the same person.
"The attempts of some media organizations to characterize the shooter as a Tea Party member without having made any effort to contact our organization are shameless and reprehensible," the group said in a statement.
Ross clarified on air Friday, as ABC News issued a formal apology.
"An earlier ABC News broadcast report suggested that a Jim Holmes of a Colorado Tea Party organization might be the suspect, but that report was incorrect. ABC News and Brian Ross apologize for the mistake, and for disseminating that information before it was properly vetted," the statement said.
On air later in the morning, Ross also said: "An earlier report that I had was incorrect that he was connected with the Tea Party. In fact, that's a different Jim Holmes. He was not connected to the Tea Party and what we do know about him is he is a 24-year-old white male who went to Colorado for a Ph.D."
At least 12 people were killed in the shooting overnight at an Aurora movie theater, while at least 50 were injured.
Details are still emerging about the suspect, who is in custody.