World Bulletin/News Desk
Three Colorado moviegoers who were wounded when a gunman opened fire at a July screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" on Friday sued the owner of the theater, Cinemark USA, accusing it of failing to provide adequate security, their lawyers said.
The action marks the first known civil lawsuits filed over the July 20 shootings at a suburban Denver screening of the Batman movie that killed 12 people and wounded 58 others.
James Holmes, a 24-year-old former neuroscience graduate student at the University of Colorado, has been charged with murder and attempted murder in the case.
"Readily available security procedures, security equipment and security personnel would likely have prevented or deterred the gunman from accomplishing his planned assault on the theater's patrons," the law firm of Keating, Wagner, Polidori and Free said in a written statement.
Representatives of Cinemark could not immediately be reached for comment.
On the day of the shooting, prosecutors allege Holmes bought a ticket to the movie, left the theater through an exit door, propping it open on his way out. He then returned to the theater clad in ballistic protective gear and armed with multiple weapons, opening fire on the crowd, prosecutors say.
Public defender Daniel King has said his client suffers from mental illness and sought help before the shootings.
In the lawsuit filed in Denver federal court, victims Joshua Nowlan, Denise Traynom and Brandon Axelrod claim the theater chain was aware of previous criminal activity at or near the cinema including "assaults and robberies" and at least one other shooting involving gang members.
"Although the theater was showing a midnight premiere of the movie and was expecting large crowds of people to attend the midnight showing, no security personnel were present for that showing," the lawsuit said.
Nowlan suffered disabling injuries to his left leg and his right arm, which was nearly severed from the gunshots, the lawsuit said. Traynom was shot in the buttocks and Axelrod was shot in the right knee and ankle.
The lawsuit also states "there was no action taken by theater employees to safely evacuate the many people" in the theater once the shooting spree got underway.
The judge presiding over the criminal case ruled on Friday that some documents in the court file can be publicly released, but arrest and search warrants that detail the specifics of the crime will remain sealed because of the ongoing investigation.
Also on Friday, Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan said that Cinemark sometime next year will reopen the theater, which has been closed since the shooting.
"The theater has been a valued part of our community for many years," Hogan said in a statement. "I am confident Cinemark will continue to remain sensitive to victims, their families, their employees and our community throughout their process of remodeling and reopening."
Leaders talk about importance of increasing joint efforts to de-escalate tensions in southeastern Ukraine
Threats in 17 states on both coasts come just over a week after similar calls led to the evacuation of over 16 Jewish locations across the eastern U.S.
The Economic Community Of West African States has repeatedly called on leader Yahya Jammeh to respect the result of the December 1 election and step down after 22 years in power.
Libya’s Tobruk airport denies plane carrying UN envoy Martin Kobler permission to land
A 15-year-old student opened fire Wednesday at an American school in northern Mexico, injuring three students and a teacher before turning the gun to himself.
German Chancellor says 27 EU member states would preserve unity during exit negotiations with UK
Sudan People’s Liberation Movement says its troops were attacked by government forces this week
Palestinian man is killed after hundreds of heavily-armed Israeli police storm Bedouin village, demolish homes
At least nine Iraqi policemen are killed in ‘fierce’ ISIL attack on police station in Saladin province
Black, Hispanic borrowers charged higher rates, government says
In angry exchanges in the House of Commons, the day after May set out her negotiating objectives on Brexit, opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said she "demeans herself and her office and our country's standing" by making such threats
UNHCR confirms that Senegal has received thousands of Gambians seeking refuge amid political crisis
Nezzar was in office from 1990 to 1994 when the military was battling an Islamist opposition in a bloody civil war.
Attack took place at a military base in Gao, northern Mali when troops were gathering
The top one percent is not carrying its weight, outgoing US Vice President Joe Biden tells World Economic Forum