Six months after it was visited by unspeakable tragedy, Aurora, Colo., celebrated its recovery on Thursday night.
The Cinemark movie theater that on July 20 was the site of a mass shooting that left 12 dead and 70 injured reopened with a memorial ceremony; the event was was attended by the state’s Governor John Hickenlooper, the town’s mayor, survivors of the carnage and the families and friends of those who lost their lives.
“Some wanted the theater reopened, some didn’t,” Hickenlooper said, according to the Denver Post. “Certainly there’s no right or wrong way of healing. … For many here tonight, though, this is a part of healing.”
The shooting — allegedly orchestrated by James Holmes — ripped through the cineplex’s Theater 9 just before a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. Cinemark asked the town’s citizens what they thought should be done with the facility; it has been massively remodeled, and now Theater 9 is called Auditorium I, with a new screen and “extreme digital” projection.
Despite the community involvement, some victims and families were angered by the decision to reopen the theater, as well as a perceived lack of compassion from the theater chain. They publicly rejected invitations to attend the event earlier in January, and in September, some sued over Cinemark’s lack of security.
“I cannot allow the shooter in any way, shape or form to win,” Aurora’s mayor, Steve Hogan, said at the event. “We will not let this tragedy define us.”
Holmes, the alleged shooter, will stand trial for more than 160 counts of murder and attempted murder. His arraignment was recently pushed back to March 12.