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Monday, June 10, 2024 | Back issues
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Widow Blames Aurora Shooter’s Psychiatrist

DENVER (CN) - The widow of a man who was shot to death at the Aurora Batman movie massacre sued the suspect's psychiatrist, Lynne Fenton, and her employer, the University of Colorado, claiming they failed to take steps to prevent the mass murder.

James Holmes, 25, is accused of killing 12 people and wounding 70 others at an Aurora movie complex last July. He will stand trial for 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and weapons charges.

Chantel Blunk, widow of Jonathan Blunk, claims in Federal Court that Fenton viewed Holmes as a threat but failed to follow through when given the opportunity to place him on a psychiatric hold weeks before the shooting. Blunk also sued on behalf of her two minor children.

Several shooting victims shooting have filed lawsuits against Cinemark USA, claiming that the theater failed to provide security that could have prevented or mitigated the attack. Blunk's complaint is the first to name Fenton and the University of Colorado as defendants.

The complaint states: "On or about July 20, 2012, James Holmes entered Auditorium 9 the Century Aurora 16 Theaters located at 14200-14300 E. Alameda Avenue, Aurora, CO 80012 in the County of Arapahoe, State of Colorado and started shooting various firearms at the seated crowd.

"One of the people killed by the gunfire was Jonathan T. Blunk, husband of plaintiff Chantel Blunk and father to Maximus T. Blunk and Hailey M. Blunk who are minor children.

"Upon information and belief, James Holmes, the shooter who killed Jonathan T. Blunk, was receiving or had recently received psychiatric care and/or mental health counseling from defendant Lynn Fenton. Defendant Fenton was acting in her scope as an employee of the University of Colorado at the time she administered such care to James Holmes.

"Upon information and belief, James Holmes told defendant Fenton on June 11, 2012 that he fantasized about killing a lot of people.

"Upon information and belief defendant Fenton notified the University of Colorado

Campus Wide Threat Assessment Team about James Holmes.

"Upon information and belief Colorado University [sic] Police Officer Lynn Whitten asked defendant Fenton if she should apprehend James Holmes and place him on a 72-hour psychiatric hold. Upon information and belief defendant Fenton rejected the idea.

"Upon information and belief there was no further action taken by defendant Fenton to warn or otherwise stop James Holmes from killing Jonathan Blunk on July 20, 2012."

Blunk adds: "Defendant Fenton knew that James Holmes was dangerous. Defendant Fenton had a duty to use reasonable care to protect the public at large from James Holmes. Defendant Fenton was presented with the opportunity to use such reasonable care when the Colorado University Police offered to apprehend James Holmes on a psychiatric hold. Defendant Fenton breached her duty to use reasonable care.

"Due to this breach of duty to warn or protect the public from James Holmes, Jonathan T. Blunk was killed on July 20, 2012."

And, the complaint states: "If Jonathan T. Blunk had survived his gunshot wound, he would have been able to maintain an action and recover damages from defendant Fenton due to her negligence."

Blunk seeks damages for negligence and wrongful death. She is represented by Nicholus Palmer with Laub & Laub, of Reno, Nev.

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