tv CNN Newsroom CNN July 29, 2012 1:00am-2:00am PDT
a person who not only receive help but kids help. >> i am so proud of you. >> you too. >> one woman can make a difference, but women working together can change the world. >> a night of anticipation turns instantly tragic. >> gunshot after gunshot. >> they are saying there are hundreds of people just running around. >> a masked gunman on rampage of terror. >> the guy is standing right by the exist exit just firing away. >> 70 people dead or wounded. >> seven down! >> the fight for survival. >> we looked up and then there was another car and then there was another police car and there was another police car. >> the effort to heal. >> we will remember you. we will honor you by celebrating life. tonight a story of what happened
inside theater nine and many questions what was behind the shooting rampage that left 12 people dead and 58 others wounded. now we are learning of possible warning signs from the suspected warning signs from the suspected gunman that he had been seeing a psychiatrist and had mailed her a package allegedly detailing her deadly plans but the package wasn't delivered in time. of course, we are going to also honor the heroes and the victims, the people we don't want you to forget. i had been reporting on this tragedy in aurora, colorado the past week my colleague grew driven. here is "madness at midnight -- a search for answers in aurora."
>> reporter: batman. comic legend. lucrative franchise. blockbuster. "the dark knight rises" was more than a movie for this man. it was an on session. sounds like you were anxious to see this movie. you're a fan. >> definitely. i've been a comic collector for 20 plus years and one of my favorite story lines was the plot of this movie. >> when did you buy your ticket? >> three weeks in advance. >> three weeks? >> yes. right when i bought them, put a picture up on my facebook saying 7/20/12, are you ready? we are. >> reporter: across the country thousands of other fans were ready too, lining up hours early for the july 20th release, ready and in rare form. >> i want to say it was like 10:30, 10:40, something like that. >> billy and her husband david were weren't they weren't early enough. >> we're going to the theater and it's already like half full
of people. so we were like, ah. darn. it's still crowded. we weren't early. >> reporter: the couple settled into seats in the middle of century 16's theater 9 for the 12:05 show. >> it was packed. it was crazy. >> corbin dates almost didn't get a seat at all. >> the only area that was available was the very first row. nobody was sitting there and a few seats on the very end in the second row. >> reporter: next door in theater 8, the dark knight rises was also playing and the place was buzzing. >> right when we walked in, you could just hear the crowd just, you know, just anticipating it. you could feel the floor shaking a little bit and you're walking in there, yes, this is going to be awesome. >> corbin dates watched the last seats fill in in theater 9. >> i remember seeing a guy walk into the theater and he sat in the very first row to the far right seat and i'm thinking nothing of it. just looked like a regular average person. >> reporter: alone?
>> alone. >> reporter: red hair? >> it did look like he had red hair, yes. >> reporter: then dates saw the man leave the theater. >> i looked over. i saw him get up and he was walking towards the emergency exit door. he opened the emergency door and he propped his foot in between. >> reporter: at the same time, dates left his own seat. rushing to meet a friend in the lobby. as the lights dimmed in both theaters. >> of course, as soon as we see the movie start, me and david are squeezing each other's hands because we're so excited! >> reporter: the movie starts? >> yeah, everybody goes nuts. >> reporter: slaps in. >> yeah. we all imagine ourselves as batman because he is anonymous. a man in mask and could be anyone. >> reporter: what caldwell and dates and billy didn't know was that outside theater 9, another anonymous man in a mask was preparing for the worst masked shooting in american history.
police say 24-year-old james holmes put on full tactical gear, including a helmet, gas mask, and a vest like this, arming himself with three guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. 20 minutes after the movie started, dates saw that same emergency exit door open again. >> the way that this person swung into the door, it seemed like this person was probably acting like a villain to swing into the door and walk in dressed all in black, a black cap, a black gas mask, body armor, weapon wrapped around his neck which i thought was fake. >> me and my husband, at the time, we both thought, oh, someone is pulling a prank. i hear this noise from down on my right and then i see this canister go all the way up, arch over the screen, and land about four or five rows below me. my first thought, oh, it's some kind of fireworks.
>> come to find out, it was containing a toxic gas. it was hard for us to breathe. >> reporter: smoke filled the dark theater as fear swept through the sold-out crowd and then it got even worse. >> i realized people were screaming, a terror scream. >> reporter: you were hearing shots? >> yes. >> reporter: constant? >> it was like a semiautomatic rifle is what it sounded like. >> reporter: boom, boom, boom? >> yes, exactly like that. >> reporter: in rhythm? >> yes. exactly the way you did it. >> reporter: the masked man calmly aimed and fired, as terrified movie fans dove for cover. >> he shot off about six or seven and i hear people panicking and we got down. i didn't want to look. came down with his gun in my face. >> i told my friends, you know, you got to get down, get on the floor. >> i saw at least four, maybe five people that were limping, wounded. >> reporter: those who could,
scrambled for safety beneath a hail of bullets. >> as we are bearing crawling, we can hear the rounds, the clips of the rounds just falling to the ground. some of them rolled up under the first row and they were burning our skin as we were crawling through. >> next door in theater 8, quentin caldwell heard something strange. >> i heard a distinct pop, pop, pop! the theater kind of jumped a little bit. even i did. and my wife just kind of grabbed my arm and said that was way too loud. that was real. >> reporter: the gunman's weapons were so powerful, bullets were bursting through the wall. >> all of a sudden, we -- we hear people kind of gasping and i look over my shoulder and there is a young lady getting held down by a couple and she is just kind of holding her face like this. >> reporter: in theater nine, dozens of people were already down and the shooter with three guns on him and a fourth in the car, was only beginning his deadly rampage. [ buzz ] off to work!
aurora, colorado. inside century 16's theater nine, it was chaos. >> there's smoke, there's explosions, there's guns being fired. >> stephanie davies was putting pressure on the bullet wound in her friend's neck. >> there's blood, there's death. >> reporter: pierce o'farrell and his friend were also in trouble. >> pierce, pierce, i'm shot, i'm shot. he said, me, too. just stay down. and then he shot me a second time. >> reporter: on the floor, corbin dates was just trying to keep cool. >> people in front of me, they were freaking out. my friend behind me, he was freaking out. i'm thinking we need to stay quiet. >> reporter: you're like within five, ten feet of this guy? >> yes. >> i thought he was going to kill me. >> reporter: o'farrell was even closer than that. >> he was standing literally directly above me.
i could feel his boot next to my head and i had had my face down to the ground and i stood as still as i possibly could and i prayed and i prayed and i prayed. >> a straight shot. taking guys out from one aisle to the next. >> reporter: josh nolan was sure he was going to guy. clear in the gunman's sights and then a miracle. the semiautomatic weapon jammed. >> if that gun did not jam, i am full certain that i probably would not be here. >> reporter: the shooter switched weapons and calmly continued firing. >> very methodical. he never once said a word. i never heard a single word out of him. >> reporter: on the floor, billy felt something behind her. >> and i reached behind me and it's the little boy that was sitting right next to me. and so he's literally, he's clinging to me. you know? i can feel he's terrified.
>> reporter: at 12:39, wld went out to legal police. >> 3:15 entry 14 for a shooting at century theaters. 14, 300 east alameda avenue. they're saying somebody is shooting in the auditorium. >> reporter: officers say they arrived within 15 seconds. inside the theater, at some point, the shooting stopped. and dates and his friend ran. >> i'm n hearing any more gunshots. i told jenny, we need to bolt out of here now. >> reporter: david fail shoved his wife billy toward the door. >> he is pushing people, go, go, go! move it, move it! and he said that he felt the little boy grab his hand, so he was pulling both of us out of the theater. >> on the upper part of the auditorium, there were bodies that were hanging over the chairs. >> and i crawled over someone
and he wasn't moving. it was a guy in a white shirt and he was just laying there on his side. >> as i was running out into the lobby making my way towards the door, a cop was coming in with a shotgun. >> reporter: first responders would soon see the first signs of carnage. >> reporter: outside the theater, the desperate hunt for the suspected killer. >> reporter: the suspect surrendered without offering any resistance. his hair was dyed red. he told police, "i am the joker." in theater 9, dozens of men, women, and children lay dead or
wounded and urgently needed help. >> as soon as we're out, i look behind me and there's a guy behind me holding the side of his neck and there is blood all over his face, just all over him. and that's the moment whenever i just -- i'm really freaking out. >> reporter: in the parking lot, the struggle to save lives. >> reporter: quentin caldwell. >>e get outside. that's when we saw the totality of everything, how bad it really was. >> reporter: what did you see? >> there was a young lady, the first one i saw, kind of in a pink shirt, she was just peppered with blood and wounds all the way down her left side. >> reporter: shotgun? >> yeah. that's what i immediately assumed was a shotgun. the ambulances were still showing up.
>> reporter: but not, it seems, given fast enough, given the number of casualties. >> reporter: dozens of wounded, all at once overwhelmed emergency responders. cops started to take action. >> we went in our disaster mode. >> reporter: at university hospital, the doctor car mill low sassin was expecting handful of victim. >> the first person was coming out of the back of the police car and that is when something kind of triggered, oh, no, this is going to be different. >> reporter: they pulled the first victim from the car, and then -- >> all of a sudden, we looked up and then there was another car and then there was another police car and then there was another police car. and within about 15 or 20 minutes, we had nine critical patients who were on our doorstep. >> there was a patient in this room right here who had --
>> reporter: across town at aurora medical center, dr. gilbert panetta had a similar scene. >> a gentleman had a large injury to his leg and a tourniquet around his leg. i walked by him and walked to the rest of the department and noticed multiple other patients. >> reporter: the injuries were diverse and severe. >> a lot of them had actually internal bleeding and those are the ones i think are very scary for us and what sets our gunshot victims very much apart from anything else we see. >> reporter: victims were talking one minute. unresponsive the next. >> there was shotgun blast wounds, enough of their injuries that were from a high caliber, obviously, a powerful high velocity weapon. >> reporter: at six area hospitals, teams of e.r. professionals kept nearly all of the shooting victims alive. >> everyone that came in this hospital survived. >> reporter: at university hospital, 22 of 23 patients made it. and that, says sassin, is what
turned the aurora massacre into the aurora miracle. >> i got very emotional when i saw my patients, and some of these patients, they are so resilient, they so strong. and i think i just needed to see them walking and talking, because the last picture i have in my head is them on a stretcher, critically injuried and getting rolled up to an operating room. >> reporter: the shooting was over. the injuries under control. and the suspect in custody. and, yet, the terror was far from over. >> make no mistake, okay? this is apartment was designed to kill whoever entered it. [ female announcer ] imagine skin so healthy, it never gets dry again.
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just before midnight inside the third floor apartment building at 1690 paris street, music suddenly began to play -- loud music. downstairs, kaitlin fonzy wasn't quite asleep yet. >> we heard the loud tech know -- techno music from the upstairs apartment which was odd. we never hear anything up there.
>> reporter: kaitlin fonzy decided to go upstairs and stop it. it was coming from behind the closed door of james holmes apartment. >> i went upstairs and knocked on the door quite a few times and realized it was possibly unlocked. i thought about peer i my head in there and had my hand on the don't remember handle and just saying, hey, turn it down. i decided not to do that. i just had a trepidation and a little voice told me, no, just let the cops handle it. >> reporter: it was a good thing she didn't get inside. a very good thing. >> make no mistake, okay? this apartment was designed, i say, based on everything i've seen, could till whoever entered in. >> police say holmes had left behind a vicious boobytrap, explosives and ten gallons of gasoline and through a spaghetti network of cables triggered to explode by the first person who would enter the apartment door.
>> if a neighbor or an unassuming pedestrian walked in that door or god forbid a first responder, they would have sustained significant injuries and lost their life. >> reporter: by that time, james holmes was on his way to theater nine. it was a ma they had cal part of a dance of death that police say were orchestrated by the suspect. he was armed at the teeth elaborately prepared to kill and committed to as much death and destruction as humanly possible. an automatic rifle like this one. >> this is your standard meat and potatoes a.r.-15. >> reporter: a shotgun like this one. two powerful handguns and he was ready for mayhem. >> the suspect was dressed all in black. he was wearing a ballistic helmet, a tactical ballistical vest and ballistic leggings and a throat protector and a face
mask and black protective gloves. >> the gear bought with a few strokes of a keyboard from a company called tactical gear for about $300. purchases with clear forethought, planning to kill. >> what i was wearing was designed that if he encountered some resistance inside that theater, it would offer some measure of protection so that he could keep going with his mission to keep shooting people, to keep shooting the patrons in there. >> reporter: tom fuentes is a cnn consultant who spent decades at the fbi. >> it was very methodically planned and he was meticulous in the gear he assembled and the equipment and the fire power and the ammunition and weapons. >> reporter: he only had one thing in mind. >> to actually kill as many people as he could possibly kill in one shooting spree inside that theater.
>> reporter: and all of it, every gun, every round of ammunition, the protective gear, all perfectly legal. >> you have nothing that would have come up in his background. you could hire a hundred detectives to do his background and not find one reason to deny him the ability to buy a lawful firearm. >> reporter: not only did he buy the weapons legally, but over the internet with a few strokes of a keyboard he also bought thousands of rounds of ammunition and so-called after-market extras, extra magazines to hold all of the bullets, as well as his protective gear. when the day broke after the horrific killing spree, law enforcement returned to the apartment on paris street. we have all seen the pictures by now. a policeman perched at the end of a fire department ladder poking the windows, finally breaking them and sending in a robot camera. >> i personally have never seen anything like what the pictures in there show us. >> reporter: it took six hours to dismantle the boobytraps and
remove the danger of the homemade bombs from exploding which were then driven to a secure location where police say this is what james holmes had planned for police, for firefighters, or even for a neighbor complaining about music, anyone who would open his apartment door and enter. >> we are hopeful that we have eliminated the remaining major threats. >> not only kill the people that were in the building or really close to it, but the fire and the damage that could have been done. people have reported that the entire third floor would have gone up in smoke. >> reporter: now, the question is why. just who is he? and what could have triggered this deadly rampage?
the james holmes who looked very disoriented at his first court appearance is far different than the all-american boy. tom mye remembers growing up next door. >> a very nice family. a very good neighborhood. very typically american family. >> his house is just a few feet away from where the holmes family lives isuburban san diego. holmes mother is a nurse. his father, a scientist. the last time you saw him, that
was not the same person, demeanor that you saw in that courtroom on monday? >> definitely not. totally different. >> reporter: but who really knew him? no close friends have emerged and his family isn't talking. and if there were warning signs years ago, no one saw them. as a child, he was known as jimmy to his classmates at castroville elementary school in northern california where he played basketball and soccer. >> the way i knew him, he was a very nice kid. he excelled in academics and top of the class. and even back then, he was the head of every student. >> reporter: so much ahead that all these years later, they all remember jimmy well. >> oh, man, he would finish his test way before i would! pretty much the rest of the class, except for maybe one or two other students. >> i think at one point in the fifth grade, we put together a
class website and he kind of collaborated with it. he had computer skills back then as a kid, as a young kid. >> paul karrer was his fifth grade teacher. >> when i saw the photo of him with black hair, i did not recognize him as the boy i knew almost harry potter like with oval glasses. >> an image that haunts him today. >> it's really disturbing, to be so close to something like that, it bothers you to your essence and particularly as a teacher, you're thinking this is one of my kids and then you also think could i have done anything or did i see anything? did i miss anything? is, you know, could i have done anything to have prevented this? do i do anything to cause this? you know? the answer is no. >> reporter: by high school, the family was living in san diego at westview high, holmes excelled and made the junior varsity soccer team. after high school in 2006, he attended a rigorous boot camp in
neurobiology at the sulk institute. this video showing him giving a presentation is in stark contrast to the images after the shooting. >> hello, i'm james. >> reporter: but apparently not all was well. his supervisor at the institute told the "los angeles times," holmes was socially inseptember and incredibly incommunicative and wasn't a particularly good student. still later in college at the university of california riverside, he stood out, at least academically. >> his academic credential coming in and while he was here, puts him at the top of the top in a very rigorous major that includes a heavily involvement in the sciences and physics to chemistry and biology and anatomy, physiology, the psychological aspects of how the neurosystem works and one of our most rigorous majors. >> reporter: after his academic achievements after graduating college he apparently couldn't find a job right away. was he trying to get a job, do you know?
>> like when he graduated from the uc riverside, he come home and try to look for a job but looked like job very hard to come by because of the economic downturn. >> reporter: in 2011, though, james holmes appeared to rebound. he was one of just six students accepted at the university of colorado's neuroscience graduate program and was awarded a 26,000 dollar grant from the national institutes of health. >> the applications of the program is very competitive. we get more than ten applications per opening. we take about five or six students per year into this program. >> reporter: for the last year, he has walked this campus, studied here, researched here, yet, few knew him. least of all the campus police whose record show no trouble whatsoever. >> i don't one ever brought him to your attention in any way? no offense? >> we have had no contact with him on a criminal matter as a replied. >> reporter: if he had any close friends in aurora, no one is
talking. one student who worked with him closely three months, told us i worked near him but i wasn't close to him. i don't think anyone was close to him. another one who sat in the same lecture class, says i can't remember him uttering a single word. school officials have told everyone not to talk with reporters unless cleared in advance. one big unanswered question -- was holmes amassing that arsenal by accepting packages of ammunition sent to the school itself? >> if they came in by way of u.p.s. or fedex nobody would even know about it. there are thousands of packages that come into this institution every day. >> reporter: the university says a package from holmes was delivered at the school on monday after the shooting. it was sent to a psychiatrist holmes was seeing, dr. lynn fenton, also the university's medical director of student mental health services. some news reports say in that
package, holmes wrote about killing people, and fenton did not respond to our phone calls or e-mails. in may, according to this class schedule, holmes was supposed to give a presentation on micro rna biomarkers, a topic that explores genetics and mental illness. on june 7th, he took the required oral exams and did poorly. three days later, he told the university he was withdrawing, but didn't give a reason. and holmes' access to secure areas of the school was immediately removed. he applied online on june 25th to join this private gun range, a half hour drive from his apartment. the owner followed up on the application and listened to a voice message on the other end that he describes as weird, almost like the person leaving the message was drunk. he told cnn, freakish, maybe drunk, just weird and bizarre. it was james holmes' message.
holmes was also recently on this website posting a picture in red hair. it is a sex site. adult friend finder.com. still on the outside, james holmes appeared normal. jackie mitchell, a neighbor, remembers having a beer with holmes at this local bar. it was just four days before the shooting. >> i mean, just intelligent looking guy. so, i mean, i don't know -- you don't know what a killer looks like. it didn't look like him. >> reporter: few answers to what became of the james holmes who showed so much promise a dozen years ago. >> i would like to know what happened in that 13 or 14-year period that led to this, because it's, obviously, not the kid we went to school with, and it's a real tragedy what happened and what took place and a tragedy for his family and for all of the victims' families, and it's a horrible thing that this happened. and i just wonder how this could happen and why.
>> reporter: a question aurora is asking. coming up, a shattered community tries to recover from the tragedy. >>e will remember! [ taste buds ] donuts, donuts, donuts! who are these guys? oh, that's just my buds. bacon, donuts. -my taste buds. -[ taste buds ] waffles. how about we try this new kind of fiber one cereal? you think you're going to slip some fiber by us? rookie. okay. ♪ nutty clusters and almonds, ♪ ♪ almonds. ♪ fiber one is gonna make you smile. ♪ [ male announcer ] introducing new fiber one nutty clusters and almonds. with 43% daily value of fiber for you. crunchy nutty clusters and real almond slices for your taste buds.
>> wow. look around. isn't it amazing the outpouring of support for the victims, their families, and our community. >> reporter: it was a massive prayer vigil. times for hugs, tears, and prayers. >> we weep with you today, but we weep because we have hope that tomorrow is going to be brighter. you are aurora. we are aurora. we grieve together. >> reporter: the main purpose -- to help the shattered community find a way back. >> while our hearts are broken, our community is not. we will take this experience and use it to strengthen our commitment to each other. our aurora will be a model city on how to absorb and overcome a
terrible and unexpected tragedy. ♪ praise god >> reporter: aurora, colorado. ten miles east of denver. before, it was striving to be a model of resilience. it was a model of diversity. a rich mosaic of different cultures and half of the 325,000 residents are minority. >> i cover the aurora public school district and it's one of the school districts more than 150 languages spoken. there are a big korean community and african community. i think you can't find a place as america as this city, just in terms of the diversity. >> reporter: when you group up, was it as diverse? >> my recollections start as a little kid growing up across the
street from a palestinian family and my father is jewish and, you know, they were my best friends growing up and it wasn't until i was older that i thought this is a situation that is probably unique to aurora and probably unique to the united states. >> reporter: and from this unique place came a unique response to the tragedy. hours after the shooting, jordin ghawi talked to anderson cooper and raised a common idea. keep the shooter's name out of the media. >> the more time the victims have the less time the man gets his two seconds on television, we want the victims to be remembered rather than this coward. >> reporter: it was an idea quickly embraced by the community.
>> and i roux fuse to say his name. in my house, we are just going to call him suspect a. >> reporter: it was a message that resonated across the nation. after meeting with the survivors and victims' families, even president obama agreed not to mention the shooter's name. that also hit home with a community all too familiar with tragedy. in the shadow of aurora, just 20 miles away. >> i am in full support of this idea of not naming the shooter's name and not putting attention on the shooter. >> reporter: craig scott is a survivor of the columbine shooting 13 years ago.
two of the 13 people who died in that tragedy were scott's friends, shot right in front of him. another was his sister, 17-year-old rachel scott, murdered while sitting on the grass near the school entrance. >> it would have definitely helped me to hear the names of the shooters at columbine less, to see them less on the media, see them less on the front pages of newspapers holding their guns. >> reporter: it's a move that may erase a killer's name, but it can't erase the pain. one thing that can help, scott says, is spreading kindness. it's why his family created a foundation called rachel's challenge, to try to prevent more school violen. but what helps most of all, he says, remember the lives of the victims. >> micayla medic.
veronica moser-sullivan. alex sullivan. xarnled teves. >> reporter: we remember. next. [ female announcer ] imagine skin so healthy, it never gets dry again. can your moisturizer do that? [ female announcer ] dermatologist recommended aveeno has an oat formula, now proven to build a moisture reserve, so skin can replenish itself. that's healthy skin for life. only from aveeno.
on the bottom of a dirt hill, across from the darkened theater, 1 crosses stand to memorialize those who were lost last week. twelve lives, twelve futures, twelve names that must be remembered instead of that one name everyone wants to forget. we will remember them. alex sullivan. >> this is him. his name is alex sullivan. today is his birthday. >> before we knew for sure who had lived and who had died, alex sullivan was one of the first names we heard. >> call me. >> in the hours after the shooting, his father desperately searched for his missing 27-year-old son.
>> i'm crying because i know he's hurt. that's -- that's -- i know he's hurt. so i've got to get to him and find out where he is. >> reporter: alex never made it out of the theater. he had gone there friday night with a group of friends. it was two days before his first wedding anniversary and the night of his 27th birthday. he tweeted, oh, man, one hour till the movie and it's going to be the best birthday ever. >> i always saw him as bigger than life. if you want to count a rich man by the people that know him and that call him friend, he was the wealthiest man i ever met. yeah. ♪ >> reporter: veronica moser-sullivan. the smallest victim of this very bad tragedy and an adorable 6-year-old finding delight in a drippy ice cream cone. >> just vibrant 6-year-old. excited. just learned how to swim and, you know, just a great little girl and excited about life.
>> reporter: she loved to read and play dressup. jessica was at the theater for girls night with her friend and mom. a mother still in the hospital devastated by the loss of her adorable daughter. her father's reaction to the shocking loss, she is the last girl i will ever love. alexander j.boik. everyone called him a.j. 18 years old. he, too, was just getting his life started. ♪ >> reporter: family and friends who posted this video on facebook have said he always brought a smile and a quick wit to every occasion. a.j. dreamed of becoming an art teacher. he was supposed to start art school in the fall. ♪ >> reporter: micayla medic. she also had dreams. three years away from a college degree, the 23-year-old said on her facebook page, i'm a simple independent girl who is just trying to get her life together while still having fun.
john larimer. >> he was an outstanding ship mate. a valid member of our navy team. and an extremely dedicated sailor. >> reporter: larimer already had his future mapped out. a 27-year-old petty officer in the navy, he was the fourth generation of a military family going back to his great grandfather who served in world war i. jesse childress. friends say he worked hard by day but liked to have fun at night. >> if there was a flag football team, he was always there to do it. he would always go bowling with sanchez every tuesday night. >> reporter: on friday night, he mixed work with pleasure. a comic book superhero fan, childress went to the movie with air force buddies. they say he was fatally wounded when he drove in front of a female friend. it wasn't the only act of heroism that night.
alex teves is the arizona native is described about being all about life. not surprising those close to him that he would lose his life to save another. that night he blocked a bullet from hitting his girlfriend amanda and says no doubt he saved her life. >> every ounce of my being, he did. i wouldn't be here without him. >> reporter: friends say he is also a hero by day. alex had just grated from the university of denver with a master's in counseling. had he a passion for sports. and an even bigger passion for working with children. >> he would take time and mentor kids in the community who, you know, didn't have dads and were just really hurting. >> reporter: matt mcquinn. the 27-year-old ohio nast native and his girlfriend samantha yolor had been dating for two years. his heroic act will be remembered forever. he threw herself in front of is
a samantha. not surprising to me his first thought was her. that's was a man does, he protects his loved ones. i was very proud of him. i'm going to miss him! ♪ >> reporter: jonathan blunk. he laid up against me and told me what to do and guided me in that situation and he saved my life. >> reporter: janssen said her boyfriend was already a hero. he hoped one day to become a navy s.e.a.l.s. responsible nayity and love for his 4-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son. gordon cowden. he also left behind two children that night. their memories will be of a 51-year-old man who one friend called a true texas gentleman
who loved life and his family. a keen sense of humor. rebecca wingo. the 32 was back at the school and studying to help foster children and friends say she did it with a smile that lit up the room. jessica ghawi. her smile is familiar to many. she was the first name we heard when she was the first victim identified. boyfriend jay mayoff remembers. >> i guess like a fire cracker, she was exploding with personality and charisma. >> reporter: a 24-year-old sportscaster she used the last name of redfield on air. it was her fiery red hair and electric personality that made close to her know that she would be a star one day.
>> i have no doubt in my mind she would have done it and she would have been someone that the whole world would have known for a different reason. >> reporter: but jessica, like 11 others, will now be remembered because the unimaginable happened. for those left behind, there is mourning, a fight to find meaning, and a search for some kind of peace. a search that drove jessica ghawi to write words that turned out to be prophetic and words in hindsight have so much meaning and words she wrote after surviving another deadly shooting in a toronto mall just one month earlier. >> i was reminded that we don't know when or where our time on earth will end. when or where we will breathe our last breath. i say all the time that every moment we have to live our life is a blessing. every second of every day is a gift. i know i truly understand how blessed i am for each second i'm given.
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