Aurora Theater Shooting

Aurora is finally a household name...for the wrong reason

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:

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun