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3 wounded in Colorado mass shooting sue theater owner

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 10:59 AM EDT, Tue September 25, 2012
James Holmes, the accused Aurora, Colorado, gunman may face more charges.
James Holmes, the accused Aurora, Colorado, gunman may face more charges.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Two lawsuits allege security guards were given the night off
  • The lawsuits have been filed on behalf of three friends wounded in the shooting
  • The July 20 shooting at the Aurora multiplex left 12 dead and 58 wounded

(CNN) -- Three people wounded in the July mass shooting at a Colorado multiplex are suing the theater owner, claiming that security was lax the night a gunman opened fire and killed 12 people.

Two lawsuits filed Friday against Cinemark USA Inc., owner of Century Aurora 16, allege negligence on the part of the corporation because the theater lacked adequate security or sufficient alarm systems.

"Although the theater was showing a midnight premier of the movie and was expecting large crowds of people to attend the midnight showing, no security personnel were present for that showing," according to both lawsuits, which were filed by the same law firm.

"The exterior doors to the theater were lacking in any alarm system, interlocking security systems, or any other security or alarm features."

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James Holmes, 24, is accused of opening fire on a crowded theater during the July 20 midnight showing of the latest Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises."

Fifty-eight people were wounded in the attack.

The lawsuits were filed in U.S. District Court in Colorado on behalf of Joshua Nowlan, Denise Traynom and Brandon Axelrod.

Iraq war veteran Nowlan, 31, and newlyweds Axelrod, 30, and Traynom, 24, were at the theater together when the shooting occurred.

"Josh helped me protect my wife, and he got shot. It wasn't expected. But I'm glad he was there with us because the three of us together, we piled on each other and we kept each other safe. And you know, luck or faith, whatever you want to call it, kept us alive," Axelrod told CNN in an interview shortly after the shooting.

"Josh, while we were hugging each other in the aisle, got hit in the arm. And at some point, because he's so tall and lanky, he got hit in the leg, as well."

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The Denver law firm of Keating, Wagner, Polidori & Free, filed the lawsuits: One on behalf of Nowlan, the other on behalf of Traynom and Axelrod.

According to the lawsuits, the gunman was able to go in and out of the theater several times undetected to retrieve a "virtual arsenal of weapons, including, but not limited to, one or more fully loaded shotguns, an AR-15 assault rifle, one or more fully loaded, automatic Glock handguns, and several tear gas canisters."

Nowlan's right arm was nearly severed by a bullet, Traynom was shot in the buttocks and Axelrod injured his knee and ankle, according to the lawsuits.

The lawsuits also allege that the theater's security guards were given the night off, even though there had been several previous criminal incidents.

The lawsuits are seeking "amount which will fully and fairly compensate each of them for damages, losses and injuries" on behalf of the three victims.

The lawsuits were filed the same day that Cinemark officials announced a plan to reconfigure the movie theater and reopen it by the beginning of next year.

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