The City of Aurora and its booster group, Visit Aurora, have been working hard to advance the city's profile, pushing the upstart suburb just east of Denver out from under the shadow of its older, bigger sibling and making it a household name across the country. Today it is. But this is not what Aurora envisioned.
The shootings at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises took place at the Century 16, a theater complex in the Aurora Town Center, the slick development that replaced the decrepit Aurora Mall. In many ways, the Aurora Town Center really is the center of the sprawling city.
And now it's at the center of the country's attention, as everyone looks for an explanation of what propelled the shooter identified as James Holmes to commit this horrifying crime. Most of the headlines name-check Aurora as the site of the massacre, rather than tying it to a Denver suburb. "Aurora: 'Dark Night Rises' shootings have eerie overtones" in the Los Angeles Times. "12 shot dead at 'Dark Knight Rises' screening in Aurora, Colorado" on MSNBC.
Aurora has finally made its name. But this is not what it wanted -- or what it deserves.
Thirteen years ago, all eyes were on Colorado because of another massacre. As Alan Prendergast reports, the "Columbine shootings continue to 'inspire' Hollywood." Why?
Update: Here are photos of the shooter, James Holmes, 24:
Source: University of Colorado Denver
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Source: Westview High School yearbook (San Diego, California)