Aurora Theater Shooting

James Holmes case: Inside three victims' lawsuits against Aurora theater

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One suit is filed under the names of two people, Denise Traynom and Brandon Axelrod, while the second lists Joshua Nowlan as the plaintiff. However, the defendant in each is the same -- Cinemark USA, doing business as the Century Aurora 16. And the law firm is identical, too: It's Denver-based Keating Wagner Polidori Free, P.C. The suits were filed in United States District Court for the District of Colorado.

The "General Allegations" sections of the documents are also similar. The suits maintain that Cinemark "had information that previous disturbances, incidents, disruptions and other criminal activities had taken place at or near the property of the theater" prior to the deadly July 20 midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises, during which the assault took place. Moreover, the suits continue, "These incidents most commonly took place during the evening hours" and included "at least one shooting, involving gang members," as well as assaults and robberies.

Because of such problems, the suits note that the Century 16 had regularly hired various security personnel to work at the theater, including off-duty Aurora police officers -- but they were typically on duty only Friday and Saturday nights. An exception: On July 19, the suit says officers were on hand for the transfer of box-office cash -- but not for the midnight screenings, when huge throngs descended on the theater to attend one of the year's most anticipated movie launches.

Moreover, the suits continue, the exterior doors to the theater lacked "any alarm system, interlocking security systems, or any other security or alarm features which would have put Defendant's employees or security personnel on notice that someone had surreptitiously left the theater by the exterior door and had put the door in an open position which would facilitate a surreptitious and unlawful re-entry" -- precisely what Holmes is thought to have done. And neither did the theater have procedures in place to prevent anyone from taking this action, the complaint maintains.

What follows in both suits is a speculative account of how Holmes purchased a ticket, entered the theater, propped open the door, gathered his deadly arsenal from his nearby car and readied for the attack. But they diverge when it comes to what happened to the plaintiffs.

Continue to read accounts about victims suing the Aurora Century 16 and to see the complaints.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts