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."
Ban strongly condemned violence that left two Israeli men dead in the Old City, triggering clashes overnight that left scores injured
Deadly clashes are the latest in months of unrest triggered by President Pierre Nkurunziza's successful bid to win a third term in office
'I think the reputation of German industry, the confidence in the German economy, is not so shaken that we are no longer considered a good place to do business,' Merkel says
Israeli police says attacker shot after stabbing Israelis in Jerusalem's old city
3 people have been arrested in Mogadishu after police raided a private television channel.
A new exhibition at the Northern Illinois University highlights the material culture of indigenous Muslims in the Philippines.
The German cabinet is keeping minimal staff at it Uzbekistan air base, paying $35 million a year.
Reported shooting comes as Israeli forces search for killers of settler couple
Palestinians were protesting against the raid in the territory's main northern city of Nablus hurled stones at soldiers, who responded with rubber bullets, tear gas and live ammunition, the sources said.
UN secretary general has appealed for an end to fighting as experts fear looming humanitarian disaster with Libya factions missing the ceasefire deadline.
Bomb blasts have ripped through Abuja killing 15 people
Seven opposition candidates call for delaying Oct. 11 presidential polls in light of ‘electoral irregularities’
The banning of Tajikistan's main opposition party has drawn condemnation from the United Nations.
8 ministries, 30 departments have been cut in a shakeup that will slash ministers' pay
Belgian families open doors to refugees in Brussels to save them from the cold as they process asylum applications