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Site of massacre reopens


 Workers with American Fence remove the fence from around the Century theater in Aurora, Colo., where a gunman killed 12 people and wounded dozens. It reopened Thursday.
Ed Andrieski/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Date published: 1/18/2013

BY P. SOLOMON BANDA

Associated Press

AURORA, Colo.

--The Colorado movie theater where a gunman killed 12 people and wounded dozens of others reopened Thursday with a private ceremony for victims, first responders and officials--an event boycotted as insensitive by some who lost loved ones in the massacre.

Theater owner Cinemark plans to reopen the entire 16-screen complex in Aurora to the public temporarily on Friday, then permanently on Jan. 25. Aurora's mayor, Steve Hogan, has said residents overwhelmingly support reclaiming what he calls an "important venue for Aurora."

Former neuroscience student James Holmes is charged with 166 felony counts, mostly murder and attempted murder, in the July 20 massacre at a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises." Holmes has until March to enter a plea.

Details about Thursday's ceremony--which was to include the showing of an undisclosed movie--were a closely guarded secret. Cinemark, of Plano, Texas, refused to comment on the remembrance, refurbishments to the theater, or security measures. Victims and invited officials also declined to comment.

Victims have filed at least three federal lawsuits against Cinemark alleging it should have provided security for the midnight "Dark Knight" premiere on July 20 and that an exit door used by the gunman to get his weapons and re-enter should have had an alarm. In court papers, Cinemark says the tragedy was "unforeseeable and random."

Those invited to attend Thursday's event included victims, families, first responders, Hogan and Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Some victims said it's important to reclaim the theater. Others called its reopening insensitive and criticized Cinemark for not consulting with them about what should happen to the theater where their loved ones were killed.