Paying the price
With Holmes in custody, gun control was again a hot topic. Meanwhile, Aurora’s citizens had to pick up the pieces
For many Aurorans life would never be the same. Even hardened police officers, accustomed to seeing violent death, were appalled. Raiding Holmes’s apartment, they also had to deal with the numerous IEDs Holmes himself had warned them about. According to Police Chief Daniel Oates, “It looks very sophisticated, how it’s booby- trapped. It could be a very long wait.”
Batman star Christian Bale quietly visited Aurora, meeting victims, their families and hospital staff. Director Christopher Nolan also expressed his horror at what had happened. In a 2018 interview Bale stated, “I have not been able to watch that film since because of Aurora.”
As is usual after such an event, gun control dominated headlines. Why did Holmes assembling his arsenal not raise any red flags? Why were his serious personality and psychiatric issues not handled differently? What could be done to prevent it happening again?
Aurora’s residents, once the media circus moved on, were left to carry on as best they could. Colorado gun sales rocketed due to public fears – up 43 per cent the week after the shootings. The Aurora Strong Resilience Center was founded by local citizens, offering therapy to survivors and anyone else affected.
On 19 July 2018, a permanent memorial was dedicated to the victims. It’s sited near the Aurora Municipal Center ara kilometre from the cinema. A park- like dell, it includes 83 abstract birds, one for each victim killed or injured.
After three years of pre- trial legal wrangling, Holmes’s trial began on 27 April 2015. Holmes avoided the death penalty despite prosecutors originally seeking it – the jury failed to unanimously agree on such a penalty. On 26 August 2015 he received 12 life sentences without parole. An additional 3,318 years were added on related charges.
According to Judge Samour, it was “the intention of the court that the defendant never sets foot in free society again.”