Theater shooting victims cite lack of guards, silent alarms

James Holmes | Stock images | St. George News

CENTENNIAL, Colo. — A gunman who killed 12 people in a Colorado movie theater was so determined that no security measures could have stopped him, an attorney for the cinema chain said Tuesday during the start of a civil trial over whether the company should have foreseen the 2012 attack.

In this file photo, an overhead view from a neighboring rooftop gives a view of activities at the Century 16 theatre east of the Aurora Mall. The theatre was the scene of a calculated ambush in which 12 people died and 70 people were injured in a bloody assault during a midnight premiere of "The Dark Knight." In a civil trial starting Monday, May 9, 2016, 28 victims' families will argue that Century Theatres should be held accountable for not doing more to prevent the bloody rampage. Aurora, Colorado, July 20, 2012 | Photo by David Zalubowski (AP), St. George News
In this file photo, an overhead view from a neighboring rooftop gives a view of activities at the Century 16 theatre east of the Aurora Mall. The theatre was the scene of a calculated ambush in which 12 people died and 70 people were injured in a bloody assault during a midnight premiere of “The Dark Knight.” In a civil trial that began Monday, May 9, 2016, 28 victims’ families argued that Century Theatres should be held accountable for not doing more to prevent the bloody rampage. Aurora, Colorado, July 20, 2012 | Photo by David Zalubowski (AP), St. George News

In opening statements in the civil trial brought by survivors of the attack and their families, attorney Marc Bern said the suburban Denver movie theater should have been better prepared for the possibility of violence during the packed midnight premiere of a Batman film, where at least 1,000 people were expected.

While other theaters across the country were bolstering security for the summer blockbuster, Century 16 in Aurora lacked armed guards, closed-circuit television cameras that could have spotted trouble and a silent alarm that would have sounded when James Holmes slipped through an emergency exit door and opened fire, Bern told jurors.

Cinemark failed to be prepared in a post-9/11 world,” said Bern, who is representing 27 victims. A 28th survivor who is representing herself argued the shooting left her emotionally damaged, even though she was not in the auditorium where it took place but in a theater down the hall.

The six jurors will have to decide whether Cinemark, the country’s third-largest theater chain, should be held liable for what Taylor described as the first mass shooting at a theater in “the history of American cinema.”

Mass shootings are still so rare that theater management could not have anticipated one at a movie theater with no history of serious violence, Cinemark attorney Kevin Taylor said.

Taylor acknowledged there were no armed guards on hand for the July 20, 2012, premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises” but argued that management had deemed them unnecessary in Aurora, which was then considered among Forbes’ safest cities in the country. Guards were stationed at other Cinemark theaters. The company’s procedures were “in line with industry standard and custom,” he said.

The door Holmes propped open and entered through was not alarmed because it was not an emergency exit but rather a door designed to allow people to come and go, Taylor said.

Holmes was sentenced to life in prison last year after jurors failed to unanimously agree he deserved the death penalty.

Both sides in the civil trial pointed to Holmes’ months of planning to support their case. Bern said if the theater had closed-circuit television cameras or roving patrols outside, employees might have known that Holmes scoped out the theater four times before the attack, snapping pictures. Holmes’ notebook with detailed diagrams of auditoriums showed he picked the theater for its lax security, Bern said.

Taylor showed photos of Holmes’ weaponry, high-grade body armor and ammunition as proof that he was a “mad genius” who would not be deterred.

Holmes stood before the crowd of more than 400, threw gas canisters and opened fire with a shotgun, assault rifle and semi-automatic pistol.

“He was hell-bent on committing as much murder as he could,” Taylor said. “This was a completely unpredictable and unstoppable event.”

Written by: SADIE GURMAN, Associated Press

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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15 Comments

  • fun bag May 10, 2016 at 7:15 pm

    they should probably sue … hollywood … that made the batman movie also, since these batman films encourage these nutters to be violent.
    Ed. ellipses.

  • ladybugavenger May 10, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    Oh my gosh. This is ridiculous! Blaming lack of security at a movie theater. This clown Is guilty not the theater. What a bunch of smoke and mirrors….wasting time and money on a trial so he can try and be not guilty or be insane? He’s guilty and insane! This world is full of evil! Evil has filled man’s hearts. Choose Jesus!

  • ladybugavenger May 10, 2016 at 10:05 pm

    The theater is not responsible. This clown is….How in the world can one prepare for this? and there is no guarantee that it wouldn’t have still happened with cameras and a guard. He would have shot the guard, don’t you think?

    • .... May 11, 2016 at 5:26 am

      Hey ladybug it’s always somebody else’s fault. !

      • ladybugavenger May 11, 2016 at 10:01 am

        I’ll have to keep that in mind Dot lol….

        fun bag is right Hollywood has more money than the theater….. (they should of sued the Batman franchise)

  • Henry May 11, 2016 at 9:31 am

    The claimants would have a better chance of winning their lawsuit if the premise was that the theater was negligent for being a gun-free zone.

  • Brian May 11, 2016 at 11:30 am

    This shooters Dad was a key witness in the LIBOR scandal (the single biggest financial scandal in world history, by a large margin, totaling about $800 TRILLION). The Sandy Hook shooters Dad was also a key witness in the LIBOR scandal. Hmm. What are the odds of that?

    • fun bag May 11, 2016 at 2:57 pm

      yep, the very worst people on earth seem to all be very interconnected, don’t they? like one big club…

    • Chris May 11, 2016 at 4:15 pm

      You have apparently been getting information from crackpot websites, as usual. $800 trillion is a figure quoted by some as the total value of derivatives underpinned by LIBOR (more realistic estimates are closer to $350 trillion), NOT the total amount lost to alleged manipulators of the rate. If you even understood what derivatives are, you would know that much of the total figure, whether 800 trillion or a mere 350 trillion, is offsetting. For example, hedges against rising interest rates are offset by comparable hedges against falling rates. Liberal estimates of the haul netted by the fraudsters amount to a few tens of billions of dollars, at most. While a significant scandal by any standard, the LIBOR fraud is dwarfed by other recent cases. Moreover, there is no verified link of either father to the LIBOR scandal. You really do need to find more reliable sources for your news.

      • ladybugavenger May 12, 2016 at 3:23 pm

        What? HaHa! Go take a nap Chris! And then answer this: do you think the victims snd families should sue the movie theater? Do you think the movie theater is liable for this tragedy?

  • fun bag May 11, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    “Cinemark failed to be prepared in a post-9/11 world,”

    they even gonna play the muslim terrorist card with this one. seems wayyyyyy out of context

  • .... May 12, 2016 at 3:09 am

    You don’t like the news here Chris by all means go someplace else and read the news. …..

  • .... May 12, 2016 at 3:10 am

    St George News ROCKS !!!!!!!!!!

  • Ron May 12, 2016 at 8:48 am

    We, as individuals, are responsible for our own security and well being. Holding the theater responsible for the shooting is like holding General Motors or FORD responsible for automobile accidents which cause hundreds of deaths each year.
    After a career in law enforcement and a trained veteran, I take my personal/family’s security very serious, knowing and seeing that evil does indeed exist in the world…..yes even in southern Utah.

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