An attorney representing the family of James Holmes, the man accused of a mass shooting at a Colorado cinema, said his mother's initial comment to ABC News on the morning of the shooting has been misconstrued.

Reading a statement she attributed to James Holmes' mother, Arlene, San Diego-based attorney Lisa Damiani said Arlene Holmes' comment "You have the right person" to an ABC reporter referred to herself, not James Holmes as some media have suggested.

Arlene Holmes made the comment when the ABC reporter phoned her early Friday morning and asked if she was Arlene Holmes and if James Holmes was her son, Ms Damiani said. Her comment has been misconstrued to suggest she was not surprised by her son's alleged involvement in the shooting.

At a press conference outside her office, Ms Damiani said the Holmes family is choosing not to discuss James Holmes or his relationship with the family at this time. She declined to answer questions about the family's whereabouts.

The Holmes family were "doing as well as they can under the circumstances," said Ms Damiani.

The comments came hours after James Holmes made his first court appearance since the shooting.