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Police have identified 24-year-old James Holmes as the suspect in the Colorado shooting at the "The Dark Knight" premiere.
At least 12 people have been killed and 59 people wounded in the Aurora shooting. There is still no word on a motive, though the shooter's mother reportedly said she was not surprised that her son committed the crime.
Details about the shooting and James Holmes continue to trickle out from around the country. "He had his hair painted red," said NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly (a friend of Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates), New York Daily News reports. "He said he was the Joker, enemy of Batman." ABC News reports that Holmes made the Joker remark to police, not during the shooting.
In the next few weeks, as investigators piece together exactly what happened, the victims of the attack will likely also think about potential lawsuits.
James Holmes himself would be the most obvious target of the lawsuit. Suing the medical school dropout would likely be merely a symbolic act to hold him both civilly and criminally liable for the horrendous shooting.
Another potential target for civil lawsuits would be Century Theaters, where the shooting took place. It was reported that Holmes entered the theater through an emergency exit before throwing off gas canisters and using at least two guns in the shooting. One may wonder just how Holmes got in through the emergency exit and if the theater did enough to protect the crowds. That said, metal detectors and pat-downs aren't standard at most U.S. movie theaters.
While movie-going is usually not a dangerous activity, the Batman premiere was a midnight showing and Century Theaters likely should have expected large crowds.
As a business that is attracting a late-night audience, Century Theaters owed a duty to its patrons to keep them safe. So steps like keeping emergency doors closed and having security personnel to conduct pat-downs of ticket holders may have been a good idea. Then again, it could be Century Theaters took all the reasonable precautions.
It's still not clear what safety measures Century Theaters took, but James Holmes allegedly made it into the theater while armed to the teeth. One can only speculate if enhanced security measures could have prevented the Colorado shooting.