Relatives of many of the Aurora, Colo., shooting victims have rejected invitations to attend the theater’s reopening this month.
The Associated Press reports that the parents, grandparents, cousins and widow of nine of the 12 people killed during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises in July said they were asked to attend “an evening of remembrance” followed by a movie, as the Aurora theater reopens later this month. The victims’ kin released a harshly worded letter sent to Cinemark, the theater’s owner.
“Our family members will never be on this earth with us again, and a movie ticket and some token words from people who didn’t care enough to reach out to us, nor respond when we reached out to them to talk, is appalling,” the letter said.
The invitation reportedly was e-mailed to the families by the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance just two days after Christmas, saying that the offer was being sent on behalf of Cinemark.
Cinemark had no immediate comment.
The company, which worked with the community in deciding the fate of the multiplex, announced last month that it would reopen the theater Jan. 17. The Aurora Sentinel reported that plans filed with the city indicated that the theater would be turned into one of Cinemark’s “extreme digital cinema” sites featuring oversized screens.
“It was a killing field. It was a place of carnage, and they’ve not once told us what their plans are for the theater other than that they’re reopening it,” said Sandy Phillips, whose daughter Jessica Ghawi, a 24-year-old aspiring sportscaster, was among those killed. Phillips also said she had hoped the theater would be demolished but realized that it was an unrealistic expectation.
Monday, Jan. 7, will mark the beginning of a crucial, weeklong hearing for the alleged shooter, James Holmes, in which state District Judge William B. Sylvester will determine whether the evidence is sufficient to put Holmes on trial. The hearing will provide the public its first officially sanctioned glimpse at the evidence against Holmes, as a judge previously imposed a gag order barring attorneys and investigators from speaking publicly about the case. Many documents also have been sealed.
Holmes is charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder during the July 20 massacre, which left 12 dead and 70 wounded, and has not yet been asked to enter a plea. His lawyers say that Holmes suffers from mental illness.
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