Lack of security at Aurora theater eyed

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DENVER -- The Colorado movie theater complex that was the scene of a gunman's massacre didn't have any uniformed security guards on duty the night of the shooting, even though other theaters operated by the same company did provide such protection for the busy premiere of the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises."

It's impossible to know whether guards, often off-duty police officers, at the Aurora Century 16 would have spotted the suspected gunman, James Holmes, at the midnight showing and thwarted the attack.

The July 20 rampage left 12 people dead and dozens wounded. One of the critically wounded, Ashley Moser, whose 6-year-old daughter, Veronica Moser-Sullivan, was the youngest killed, has had a miscarriage. Moser's family said in a statement Saturday that she is recovering from surgery but that the trauma caused the miscarriage. A family member has said they hadn't told her about her daughter's death and said funeral plans for the girl remain pending.

Larry Lowak, whose son Brent was among the wounded, said security personnel on the scene possibly could have stopped the gunman, and he was dismayed to learn that guards weren't on hand.

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Plano, Texas-based Cinemark, which operates the Aurora theater, provided off-duty police guards at the Aurora theater on busy Friday and Saturday nights. Theater operators decide on a case-by-case basis for the other nights of the week. Cinemark declined to explain why guards weren't provided in Aurora for the July 19 midnight showing and declined to discuss safety policies in general.

Through interviews with police officers and officials outside the theater company, The Associated Press was able to identify places around the country that did use armed security workers for the July 19-20 Batman showings -- including Beaumont, Texas; Lake Charles, La.; and Tupelo, Miss.

Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates has said the Cinemark in Aurora normally uses off-duty officers to provide security on weekend nights but did not have any working for the July 19 showings that went into the next morning. The theater does not have an unusually high record of complaints or crimes, police Sgt. Cassidee Carlson said.

Some theaters around the country have added security guards for all nights of the week since the shooting.

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