Aurora Shooting Victims' Families Outraged by Invitation to Reopening
ABC's Carol McKinley and Clayton Sandell report:
Families of many of the victims killed in the Aurora, Colo. movie theater massacre are calling an invitation to attend "a special evening of remembrance" when the multiplex reopens later this month "disgusting" and "offensive."
In a letter to the theater owner, Cinemark USA Inc., family members of nine of the murdered victims say the invitation to attend the event was ill-timed, at best. They are calling for a boycott of the theater.
"During the holiday we didn't think anyone or anything could make our grief worse but you, Cinemark, have managed to do just that by sending us an invitation two days after Christmas inviting us to attend the re-opening of your theater in Aurora where our loved ones were massacred," the letter says.
On July 20, James Holmes allegedly opened fire inside a crowded midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises." Twelve people were killed and 58 wounded. Holmes has not yet entered a plea.
An official with Plano, Texas-based Cinemark USA Inc. told ABC News Wednesday that the company has no comment on the letter from the families.
"I was appalled at their lack of sensitivity. It's very upsetting," Mary Ellen Hansen told ABC News. Hansen is the great-aunt of six-year-old Veronica Moser-Sullivan, who was killed in the attack. Hansen's niece, Ashley Moser - Veronica's mother - was paralyzed in the shooting and suffered a miscarriage.
"It's been a horrible holiday season, and this letter came on my birthday, Dec. 27, which made it even worse," said Tom Teves, who lost his son Alex in the July 20 shooting.
Family members of the victims say they received the invitation through the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance to attend the Jan. 17 reopening, followed by the screening of a movie. The film was not specified.
"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 families wrote. They said they "will be using every social media tool at our disposal to ask the other victims to ask their friends and family to honor us by boycotting the killing field of our children."
Several lawsuits have already been filed against Cinemark by families of the victims killed as well as some theatergoers wounded that night, citing inadequate security at the theater.
A preliminary hearing in Holmes' case is scheduled for Monday.
HERE IS THE FULL TEXT OF THE LETTER:
To the Management of Cinemark USA, Inc.:
During the holiday we didn't think anyone or anything could make our grief worse but you, Cinemark, have managed to do just that by sending us an invitation two days after Christmas inviting us to attend the re-opening of your theater in Aurora where our loved ones were massacred.Thanks for making what is a very difficult holiday season that much more difficult. Timing is everything and yours is awful.
You (Cinemark) has shown, and continues to show, ZERO compassion to the families of the victims whose loved ones were killed in their theater. You, Cinemark, have never once reached out to the families to offer condolences.
This disgusting offer that you'd "like to invite you and a guest to a special evening of remembrance on Thursday, January 17 at 5 PM "followed by the showing of a movie and then telling us to be sure "to reserve our tickets "is wholly offensive to the memory of our loved ones.
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.
You (Cinemark) refused our repeated invitations to speak parent to parent with no lawyers involved. Instead, we get invited to attend a "special evening of remembrance" at the very theater where our loved ones lay dead on the floor for over 15 hours. We would give anything to wipe the carnage of that night out of our minds' eye. Thank you for reminding us how your quest for profits has blinded your leadership and made you so callous as to be oblivious to our mental anguish.
We, the families, recognize your thinly veiled publicity ploy for what it is: A great opportunity for you to distance yourselves and divert public scrutiny from your culpability in this massacre.
After reading our response to your ridiculously offensive invitation, you now know why we will not be attending your re-opening celebration and will be using every social media tool at our disposal to ask the other victims to ask their friends and family to honor us by boycotting the killing field of our children.
The Families of the Aurora Cinemark Theatre Massacre
Thomas Teves (father of Alex Teves)
Caren Teves (mother of Alex Teves)
Sandy Phillips (mother of Jessica Ghawi)
Lonnie Phillips (stepfather of Jessica Ghawi)
Jerri Jackson (mother of Matt McQuinn)
Greg Medek (father of Micayla Medek)
Rena Medek (mother of Micayla Medek)
Anita Busch (cousin of Greg and Micayla Medek)
Robert Wingo, (father of Rebecca Ann Wingo's two children)
Scott Larimer (father of John Larimer)
Kathleen Larimer (mother of John Larimer)
Jessica Watts (cousin of Jonathan Blunk)
Robert Sullivan (grandfather of Veronica Moser-Sullivan)
Sue Sullivan (grandmother of Veronica Moser-Sullivan)
Cassandra Sullivan (widow of Alex Sullivan)