In July 2012, a gunman entered a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado and opened fire, killing 12 people, injuring 58 others, and traumatizing a community. This case briefly describes the shooting and emergency response but focuses primarily on the recovery process in the year that followed. In particular, it highlights the work of the Aurora Public Schools, which under the leadership of Superintendent John L. Barry, drew on years of emergency management training to play a substantial role in the response and then unveiled an expansive recovery plan. This included hiring a full-time disaster recovery coordinator, partnering with an array of community organizations, and holding mental health workshops and other events to support APS community members. The case also details the range of reactions that staff and community members had to APS' efforts, broader community-wide recovery efforts, and stakeholders' perspectives on the effectiveness of the recovery.
The case prompts students to consider what community recovery entails, especially vis-à-vis mental health issues and resiliency; the role of different institutions therein; and how to accommodate a range of public views on these topics. It also explores broader issues in local government, most notably coordination within and across agencies as well as between the public and private sectors.