The Colorado movie theater where a gunman killed 12 people and injured dozens during a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” will reopen Thursday. Family members of several victims have pledged to boycott the event, saying an invitation they received only compounded their grief.
What to do with the theater was the subject of much debate after the shooting in July. Last year, Aurora city officials launched an online survey to gauge public opinion and said the response was overwhelmingly in favor of reopening the site.
But this month, 15 members of victims' families wrote a letter to Cinemark, the theater’s owner, criticizing an invitation to the reopening and the company for showing “ZERO compassion to the families of the victims whose loved ones were killed in their theater.”
“During the holiday we didn't think anyone or anything could make our grief worse but you, Cinemark, have managed to do just that by sending us an invitation two days after Christmas inviting us to attend the reopening of your theater in Aurora where our loved ones were massacred. Thanks for making what is a very difficult holiday season that much more difficult. Timing is everything and yours is awful,” they wrote in the letter, which was posted online by the Denver Post.
The group said it would boycott the opening and encourage others to do the same.
James E. Holmes, 25, is accused of opening fire in the theater July 20 during a premiere of the third installment of the Batman franchise. The former neuroscience doctoral student at the University of Colorado Denver surrendered to police outside the movie complex. He was ordered this month to stand trial on 166 criminal counts related to the attack.
Some victims and their families have already toured the extensively remodeled site over two days set aside for them this week. Thursday’s event at 5 p.m. will mark the official reopening with remarks by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and others.
In an email statement, the governor’s spokeswoman, Megan Castle, said Cinemark “worked closely with Aurora to do what’s best for the community.”
“We’ve heard from many people who feel the theater reopening is a necessary part of recovery,” she wrote. “The governor supports the decision and plans to attend the reopening.”