AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– For the first time since the deadly shooting on July 20, the Century 16 Theater opened to victims and their families on Tuesday. The official reopening is Thursday and will bear the name “Century Aurora.”
Some victims’ families were outraged by the invitation to the grand re-opening but others believe walking through the doors is an important part of the healing process.
“He opened fire and we got down and I was eventually shot three times,” said shooting victim Pierce O’Farrill. “The bullet came in and just snapped my arm in half.”
O’Farrill plans to attend Thursday’s reopening of the Century 16 Theater in Aurora where suspected gunman James Holmes opened fire killing 12 people and leaving 58 others injured. Holmes is facing more than 160 counts of murder and attempted murder when his trial begins.
“It’s important for me, for my healing to go back to that place. I was very close to death,” said O’Farrill. “For me I think it’s therapeutic.”
Several families of the victims have boycotted Thursday’s opening, calling the invitation “disgusting.”
O’Farrill said he respects their opinion even if he doesn’t share it.
“Obviously I have nothing but respect for people who decide not to take that step but for me it’s an important step,” said O’Farrill.
Tom Sullivan lost his son, Alex in the theater shooting. He said he and Alex loved going to the movies and that’s why he is attending the reopening.
“The message would be, we’re not going to allow people to take things away from us. This is our community,” said Sullivan.
Sullivan also believes the theater’s owner, Cinemark, is not responsible for his son’s death, “It’s not their fault. We know who’s fault it is. We know who did this.”
As Thursday night approaches O’Farrill and Sullivan agree entering the theater will be an emotional experience.
“I might even start shaking and break down as I go into that theater. I don’t know what to expect. But in my heart it’s important to go back to that place,” said O’Farrill.
For the reopening 2,000 tickets will be distributed to victims, hospital workers and first responders.
Gov. John Hickenlooper, Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan and the CEO of Cinemark are expected to attend.
The theater was open only to shooting survivors and victims’ families for private tours on Tuesday and Wednesday. They were all invited to Thursday’s reopening.