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Suits Pile Up Against Cinemark Over 'Dark Knight' Shooting
DENVER (CN) - Two more lawsuits blame a lack of security for allowing the deadly July 20 shooting rampage at a Century 16 theater in Aurora, Colo.
Jerri Jackson, the mother of Matthew McQuinn, who allegedly "used his body to shield his girlfriend from gunfire," claims Cinemark could have prevented her son's death.
In a separate lawsuit, Dion Rosborough and Ryan Lumba, who were both shot during the attack, say the inaction of Cinemark's employees allowed fellow moviegoer Alexander Boik to die of his injuries.
Boik, his father and Tony Briscoe joined Rosborough and Lumba in suing Cinemark USA dba Century 16 Aurora.
The two lawsuits, filed this week in Federal Court, echo two complaints in September that described the horror of the gunman's rampage at a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises."
All four suits do not identify "the gunman," but describe in vivid detail the strategy of the shooting and its aftermath.
Suspect James Holmes faces charges of murder and attempted murder for the shooting spree that left 12 dead and 58 injured.
After buying a ticket, the gunman allegedly went in and out of the darkened theater several times, bringing in a "virtual arsenal" from his car outside, including ammunition, body armor and a gas mask, according to the lawsuits. He infiltrated the theater with "fully loaded shotguns, an AR-15 assault rifle, one or more fully loaded, automatic Glock handguns, and several tear gas canisters," his victims say.
"After the initial episode after the throwing of the tear gas canisters, the gunman continued to shoot at people for several minutes," Rosborough and Lumba claim. "Throughout this shooting, the theater lights remained very low or off and the film continued to play upon the screen." They say "no alarm was sounded or action taken by any theater employee to assist in the evacuation of the many people in Auditorium 9," and "the gunman continued shooting into the auditorium until such time as his weapon jammed or ceased working, at which time the shooting stopped."
"[N]o employee, security person, or any other theater personnel intervened during the incident, nor immediately following the incident when the gunman exited once again through the exterior door of Auditorium 9 and went to his car," the lawsuit states.
The allegations in the two latest complaints are substantially similar to those made in the first two civil lawsuit against Cinemark.
Both complaints say Cinemark should have staffed security guards on the night of the shooting, citing "previous disturbances" at nighttime showings, including "at least one shooting involving gang members."
Further, they say the lack of alarms and locking mechanisms throughout the complex allowed the gunman to stalk the grounds unimpeded.
"Any person who wished to make a surreptitious and unauthorized entry into the theater could easily determine that the lack of security personnel and lack of any alarm on the door at the right, front by the screen of auditorium would allow them to leave the theater, and re-enter without fear of being discovered, interfered with, monitored or stopped," Jackson claims.
The alleged failure of Cinemark staff to try to help the victims or establish order amid the chaos is a recurring theme in both complaints.
"Even after the gunman left the theater and there was no further gunfire, for many minutes no theater personnel took action to assist the injured who were still in Auditorium 9," according to Jackson's complaint.
"It took several minutes for law enforcement to finally arrive. During the entirety of the time, the movie continued playing and the house lights remained very low or off."
The Rosborough complaint also blames Cinemark for failing to adequately train its employees in emergency response techniques.
The plaintiffs in both lawsuits seek unspecified damages for premises liability, negligence and wrongful death.
Jackson is represented by Jerome Malman.
Rosborough, Lumba, Briscoe and Boik are represented by Michael Sawaya with Sawaya, Rose, McClure & Wilhite in Denver.
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