tv CNN Newsroom CNN July 23, 2012 1:00am-2:00am EDT
demonstrate what it means to be a community of good, caring, and loving people. >> good, caring, and loving people. of course, the mayor saying that this community not defined by the tragedy. they're defined by their collective spirits and how well they help each other. the president of the united states speaking just before this memorial service. from the university of colorado hospital. the president reading a bible verse from revelations starting off and talking about the heros in all of this. the president, as well, saying he did not want to talk about the suspect in all of this and told the families, comforted them by saying over time that his name will fade away. the mentioning of his name will fade away, especially when the full force of the law comes down on him, and he will be,
tomorrow, in court. we'll bring that to you tomorrow. right now, we want to focus on the survivors here and focus on that memorial service. before we go back to the memorial service that just wrapped up, i want to show you what's happening here at the theater. there's a makeshift memorial just over my shoulder, which is just across the street from the theater. people are leaving the big memorial service and coming here. we have seen members of motorcycle groups that have surrounded this particular memorial service here. let's just pan over. you can see just across the street there they are. people are leaving, and this is what they're doing. they're coming to this particular spot to pay tribute to the people who died and also to support each other. so the main memorial, the service may be over, but this one is now serving as another memorial where the people of aurora will probably get together for days to come here. let's go back to the service that just wrapped up. i want to bring in my colleague. you were there. you experienced it. it was very emotional, looking at the pictures of the children crying when the mayor and the governor mentioned all the
people who had helped out and the people who had survived the shooting. you couldn't help -- your heart couldn't help but breaking by watching those people because they were crying. again, they were comforted by the folks who were around them. >> yeah, and when you look at those faces and you see the wide range of the faces here in this crowd, you really get a sense of the heart of this community. aurora, colorado, is a diverse community. it's filled with people who are older, people who are young. people brought their children here because they wanted to create a collective force against that very, very ugly event that happened at the theater. now, this is just wrapping up behind me. this hymn they ended on was "amazing grace." you could feel this emotional power swelling out of this crowd as people were singing. people were holding up their children, kissing them, hugging people they didn't appear to know. it was truly remarkable.
earlier in the memorial, families filed in carrying pictures of their loved ones, people who had died that night. what this memorial was about was acknowledging the people who had died. then it was about working toward that very difficult step of trying to heal. in the words of one of the speakers here, quote, let the healing begin. that's what this was about. that first tentative step for an entire city, an entire community to figure out how to move beyond what happened in that theater, don. >> and stay with me a little bit as i go through. let's talk about the words of governor john hickenlooper. he talked about the heroic efforts of the people who went into that theater to help out after that gunman went in on a rampage. in particular, he says, i refuse
to say his name. he got a huge -- got huge applause from the crowd. he says, i will only call him at this point, suspect "a." if we can put that up, because i think this is very important. if we can put this up on the screen. givingfirst.org is where you can go if you want to donate to the family members and to help out those who are suffering so much here. there's a website right there. givingfirst.org. now, back to the pictures. so many people are showing up at this makeshift memorial over my shoulder after leaving the memorial service where you are. police are having to direct traffic because this is appears to be a gathering spot. who knows how long these folks are going to be out here at this service, the one that's across the street from the theater where i am. who knows how long these folks are going to be out here, but there's definitely a lot of activity going on. at that theater there are police cars. there's more police activity.
it appears the police are blocking the theater so that at least the parking lot to the people cannot get in. so also the mayor speaking as well. reeling off the names of all of those who lost their lives and saying that no matter how long is takes, no matter how much it costs that he would be there for the people -- the entire community, and state would be there for the people who lost loved ones. >> absolutely. he said that he would be here. all the government officials were here. something we should point out is we didn't actually get to hear any of the voice of these family members or the victims themselves. they chose and elected to pick clergy, members of the religious faith, because this was in essence a prayer vigil. this was an opportunity for this community to look for a reason, and it has been so difficult. when you sit in the hospital rooms with the victims, they all have the same question. why did this happen? who can we turn to for answers? and what they're learning and what we're getting a sense of
from the people here at these memorials is that they have to figure that out together as a community. because if they don't do that, they're not going to know who to blame. they absolutely, like you said, don, do not want to name the suspect. when that happened, everyone did applaud. there was a tremendous response here at the memorial. no one wants to focus on what actually happened, the bad guy. they want to focus on how this community is going to get back on its feet and be the city of aurora again. >> all right. stand by. you know, we don't know exactly what's going on here, but it appears the community is gathering here after leaving the aurora municipal center's memorial service. some of them are saying that's the municipal center's service. it appears many are coming across the street from the theater where there's a makeshift memorial.
there's also a lot of activity going on around the theater. looks like something official, we're not exactly sure. but again, there is a lot of movement. but there are police officers here and members of motorcycle groups who, again, have surrounded the area. over that theater, over my shoulder behind me, the century 16 theater, of course, where that horrific shooting happened really at midnight thursday, early morning on friday. it has been about 48 hours or so since that happened. this community unbelievably coming together and rising up from this. every single person, almost to a person, we have spoken to said we're not going to let this get us down. we may be down, but we're not out. that's the sentiment we've been hearing from everyone here. i almost hate to do this, and as a matter of fact i'm not, but i was going to go to the neighborhood where that shooter is. but i'm not going to go there now. it's not about him. this is about the people of
aurora and the survivors here. i think we should linger on these pictures and talk a little bit more about what these folks are having to deal with. the president came here in a very quickly, hastily arranged trip. at first we weren't sure if he was going to come or speak. he did speak to the people of aurora. quite frankly, about an hour late. he was supposed to speak at 7:30 eastern, maybe a little more than an hour late. i can only imagine it's because the president wanted to spend as much time with those people as possible in the hospital. from every account that we have gotten, the president comforted the folks in the hospital and took as much time as he could to shake hands with them and telling some of the people there that he would not mention this shooter's name. i thought it was apropos that the president started off by reading from the bible, or at
least a reading from the bible. it was revelation 12:4. he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes and death shall be no more. neither shall there be crying or pain anymore. the first things are passed away. again, that was a reading from the bible. i thought it was appropriate because people need their faith, many of them, when something tragic like this happens. we want to listen now to the president of the united states as he spoke earlier at university hospital of colorado. >> as tragic as the circumstances of what we've seen today are, as heartbreaking as it is for the families, it's worth us spending most of our time reflecting on young americans like ally and stephanie because they represent what's best in us.
they assure us that out of this darkness a brighter day is going to come. >> we'll have the president's full remarks a little bit later on. this hour we're going to be live for you until at least 11:00 p.m. eastern to cover this story. i want to get back to my colleague, kyung lah, who is covering the memorial service that just wrapped up a short time ago. she has spoken with someone who met with the president. >> yeah, the patient i spoke with, this is a man i met who was hit by all three guns. he has fragments from all three guns in his body. he's at the university of colorado hospital. he met with the president this afternoon, and he and other patients had a chance to listen to the president. he said he was honored to meet him. patrick o'farrill, a young man who's quite extraordinary. he says he has forgiveness in his heart. he said he was very honored the
president came here. he said the president told him the entire nation is behind the wounded people here. you can definitely get a sense this community appreciates it. what we're seeing at this memorial is people continuing to lay flowers at this statue. it's really quite extraordinary. people of all ages continuing to lay flowers. you feel the force, not just of what the president did today, but of this entire community trying to come together and reminds all the victims that they're not alone in this, don. >> and as we heard earlier, if you'll stay with me, we'll continue to talk here. again, this is about really the 12 victims. we didn't have the full names when the mayor read them off, but it's jessica ghawi.
her brother came to speak with me and has been talking on cnn, has been very strong. veronica moser-sullivan, john larimer, alexander boik, jesse childress, alex sullivan, gordon cowden, micayla medek, alexander teves, matthew mcquinn. those are the people who lost their lives in this horrific incident. ♪ ♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] what's the point
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and definitely part of the family. we're so lucky that lucy picked us. [ female announcer ] purina cat chow complete. always there for you. we're back now live in aurora, colorado, where a memorial service just wrapped up moments ago at the municipal center, and the governor spoke, the mayor spoke. before that, the president of the united states also addressed the people here and the nation at the university of colorado hospital. what you're looking at now is another memorial, a makeshift memorial, that was erected just after the shooting at daybreak, following the shooting. people have been leaving that official memorial and coming over here. there's a sign that's very poignant.
it says, "angels walk with those who grieve." we're going to get back to all of what's happening here in aurora. there's still much more to tell you about here. but we want to get to cnn's tom foreman. he's back in washington for us. he has the days other headlines. what do you have for us, tom? >> hi, don. we've been tracking all day the developments that are expect tomorrow at penn state university. this evening a source tells us that significant unprecedented penalties will be levied against the school tomorrow from the ncaa, including at least $30 million in fines. the punishments follow the release of a report slamming the school's former leaders, including coach joe paterno, for ignoring suspicion of child abuse by former assistant coach jerry sandusky seen here. today, the school removed a statue of paterno from outside the stadium. earlier, i spoke with cnn national correspondent about the penalties. >> penn state football faces what they're calling unprecedented penalties that are, quote, well beyond what has been done in the past. however, the school will not face the so-called death penalty
that would have meant no football this fall. but the source says these penalties will be worse than the death penalty, an outcome that will be devastating to the current players who had nothing to do with the scandals. however, there are provisions in the plan to minimize the impact to those students. let's turn now to international headlines. syrian rebels are fighting for the country's two biggest cities, aleppo and damascus. this was today. that's the sound of gunfire. reuters reports the free syrian army has seized the infan ri. 111 people were killed across syria today. an afghan policeman turned his gun on three americans today, killing them at a training center. a nato official says the victims
were civilian contractors working at the center. the gunman was also killed. the motive for that shooting is unknown. even as we're riveted by what's happening in colorado, we can't forget this. a year ago today a man went on a rampage in norway killing 77 people, most of them teenagers, at an island summer camp. norway's prime minister today called it a time to honor the dead there by celebrating life. the gunman is a self-described ultranationalist who raged against muslim immigration. quite a sad anniversary there as well, don. we come back to you in aurora, where people are dealing with their own tragedies now in a similar way. >> absolutely, tom. thank you very much. we'll see you later on. when we come right back here on cnn, we're going to hear survivor stories. friends who huddled together to survive that deadly shooting.
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the aurora, colorado, mass theater shooting, jessica ghawi, was ans a spiring broadcaster who moved to colorado in the last year. to chase her dream. last month she survived a mall shooting in toronto while visiting her boyfriend. according to witnesses she died from a gunshot wound to the head. >> as we learn more details about the horrors that went on in that colorado movie theater, the one that's right over my shoulder here, we are also hearing about moments of great bravery, like jonathan blunk, the 26-year-old veteran who died trying to save someone else's life. earlier, his wife chantel blunk joined me from reno, nevada. most of us can't even imagine what that family is going through. i asked her how she was holding up. >> i'm trying to hold up. i'm trying to be okay. >> and we understand that.
listen, we didn't get a chance to meet your husband, jonathan. how would you like the world to remember him? >> jonny was the type that always wanted to be the hero, help anybody in any way he can. always wanted to make people smile and laugh. he was always very optimistic and outgoing. spontaneous. trying to do anything spontaneous and dangerous. when we heard it was him trying to save somebody, everybody just knew that was jonny. that was the type of person he was. >> you have two children. you have a 4-year-old daughter, 2-year-old son. as i said, it must take incredible strength to deal with that, grieving while dealing with young children as well. how are your kids doing? >> our daughter, haley, who's the 4-year-old, the oldest, she keeps asking when daddy's coming
because he was supposed to fly back from reno yesterday. she had her dress all picked out ready to go for what she wanted to wear and made her welcome home sign for him. and when i heard friday, i still didn't tell her friday night when i found out. i had to tell her saturday night we weren't going to the airport to pick him up and try to explain why we weren't getting him, that daddy was gone and still loved us and somebody took him from us. she said she cried and then she asked, well, is daddy still going to come for my birthday because he promised? then i have to explain it again. it's been like that since. my 2-year-old son, he's only 2, so he doesn't get it. he doesn't understand either. but my daughter is very confused.
>> do you feel like people have been saying, chantel, that jonathan died trying to save someone else's life? he was in the military and apparently covered up someone. he died a hero. >> i know, and that was jonny. jonny was the type of person that always wanted to be the hero. he always said, you know, if he was ever going to die, he wanted it to be in battle, and he wanted to be known as a hero to his kids and to me and friends and family. he just wanted everyone to look at him as that guy. so it's not a surprise at all. >> boy, chantel, you're working on a hero's memorial for jonathan. can you tell me and the viewers about that?
>> he has lots of friends in the military that are trying to help me because he wasn't active duty. we're trying to bring his body back, but he has a very good friend that was his boss in the military. his other friends kyle dawson and james gill, they're all trying to help bring him home. amy was able to -- because she's still with them, and talked to them about getting the gunsmen lined. he's going to have his military funeral. he's going to have his military burial. >> chantel, i can't even imagine the strength that it takes to come on and do this when you have -- when this has happened to you and your family. we thank you so much, and we're praying for you, okay? >> thank you. >> up next, a survivor. one of five friends -- two of
five friends who went to theater nine that night. one of them says he never wants to see that movie, and he never wants to go to another theater ever again. then ahead, a look at some of the military victims in this tragedy. ♪ [ male announcer ] this is our beach. ♪ this is our pool. ♪ our fireworks. ♪ and our slip and slide. you have your idea of summer fun, and we have ours. now during the summer event get an exceptionally engineered mercedes-benz for an exceptional price. but hurry, this offer ends july 31st. for an exceptional price. homicide of young people in america has an impact on all of us. how can we save these young people's lives? as a police chief, i have an opportunity to affect what happens in a major city. if you want to make a difference,
for many of us, the tragic stories out of aurora are burned into our minds. it's very hard to forget. but there are also amazing stories of survival, amazing stories of survival and courage. we want to tell you about one now. nick and devon were two of five friends who went into the theater nine that night. nick and devan join us now. thankfully you all made it out. sadly, many people did not. first of all, how are your friends?
nick, i'll start with you. some were hurt pretty bad, it sounds like. >> yeah, our friend lewis is doing all right. he's at home. his whole arm and both his hands are shot up pretty bad and his head. our other friend ryan is in the hospital right now, but he's expected to recover in about two weeks. >> devan, with all the smoke in the dark, did any of you know what you were up against in all of this? what did you think of what was happening? >> at first i initially thought it was a prank. i had no idea that it was a shooting at first until i started to hear people screaming and i saw the flashes. at that point i knew something was up. it was nothing glamorous. it's nothing like you would see in a movie. it's nothing like you would play in a video game. everything there was real. it was just real.
>> nick, how was it? did it help at all, the memorial service that just happened snp you both were there. did it help you out at all?? sn you both were there. did it help you out at alsnp you both were there. did it help you out at alnp you both were there. did it help you out at alp you both were there. did it help you out at al you both were there. did it help you out at all? >> yeah, you know, the memorial service was amazing. you know, all the speeches were really encouraging and inspiring, especially at this time. i feel like that's exactly what people need, especially anybody who was involved or knew people that were involved. i feel like that's exactly what they needed. >> devon, a lot has been made of people here saying in the community the leaders as well that this community is going to move on. they don't want to focus on the suspected shooter. they want to move on. you're moving on am i correct? you're going off to college, playing football. >> can you repeat the question, please? i'm sorry. >> i said you're moving on. you're going off to college in the fall. what are you planning to do to
move on from this? >> you know, i believe that jesus christ is my savior. he pulled me out of that, and through him that's how i'm going to move on. that's how i've been moving on. that's how i've been continuing to go on. even in college, whether life moves on, the world is going to go around. without the lord, i would be lost. without the lord, i would be dead. so it's him. he's picking me up. he's helping me move on. that's the only way for me. >> well, we're glad that you guys are okay. we're sorry, of course, that you had to suffer through all this. we wish you the best. nick and devon, they survived that horrific incident that happened in the theater over my shoulder. the largest mass shooting in u.s. history. thank you, guys. next up, you're going to hear president obama's remarks after his visit with families of victims and survivors in aurora, colorado.
only enlisted with the u.s. navy for less than a year, 27-year-old serviceman john larimer was in his first posting. in a phone call with cnn, his father scott said they're struggling with the news he was shot and killed in the movie theater. they say their thoughts and prayers are with the families of the other victims. >> when you join the military, you know the risks. with your country at war, your life could be put on the line. ironically, three of the victims in aurora came home from military service only to die in that movie theater massacre. here's a cnn's poppy harlow. >> if you could talk to jesse now, what would you say? >> i would try and -- not try
and get him to come. he wanted to wait until saturday to watch the movie. i shouldn't have asked him to, bugged him to come to the thursday night midnight premier. >> it's not your fault, okay? it's not your fault. your last text to him was -- >> please let me know you're okay. >> never heard back. >> never heard back. >>two friends who served with him in the air force, grieving the death of 29-year-old staff sergeant jesse childress. >> when i think of jesse, i think of big nerd. someone that was always humorous. someone who always made the office brighter. >> fun loving, caring, and going out of his way just to help anybody inside the unit and outside the unit. >> childress was on active duty just a few miles from the movie theater where he was gunned down.
his friends urged him to join him at the screening. they were in theater eight. childress was in theater nine. >> we walked around for about two hours looking for sergeant childress and other people that were with him. >> you never found him? >> we never found him. >> buckley air force base lost two young men that night, petty officer third class john larimer, 27 years old in the navy only a year. >> john had that calming personality that everybody seemed to gravitate to. he was one of those very extremely competent professionals that had, you know, an extraordinary work ethic and was truly dedicated to the mission, the navy, and really all the sailors that he worked alongside. >> his family in crystal lake, illinois, said, we love you, john, and we will miss you always. >> he was a great sailor. i mean, he joined the navy to serve his country and defend the freedoms of this country. you can't say enough about someone who wants to join and serve and protect his country. >> larimer followed the path of his father and grandfather, both navy men.
he will be buried with full military honors. 26-year-old john blunk, father of two young children, who served in the navy until 2009 and was planning to reenlist. he threw himself on top of his girlfriend in the movie theater, saving her life and losing his own. >> he saved me, and he gave me the opportunity to live. i prayed to john last night saying, john, i love you, and i'm so grateful for what you've done for me. >> three men not even 30 who served their country lost in an instant. >> poppy harlow joins me now live in aurora. blunk, childress, larimer. we'll never forget those names. i thought it was interesting when the guy had his cell phone and he said, i'm never going to get rid of this text message. >> that's airman kevin tau, who
we spent a lot of the day with. he feels almost guilty. he said, we're the ones that convinced jesse childress to come to the movie tonight. he wanted to go on saturday instead. you know, i kept saying to them, it's not your fault, it's not your fault. kevin also told me, i don't think i'll ever go to a movie again. that's how shaken he is. but you think about these men, don, who served this country. they choose to enlist. none of them were even 30 years old. they were all younger than we are. they've lost their lives. >> jonathan blunk, right, i interviewed his widow. she said she wants to move on. the sad thing, she said her daughter said daddy said he was going to come home and hang out with me and take me places. she doesn't know how to do that. >> but you know, her daughter haley, 4 years old, what she's doing now she's listening to the voicemail to hear her father's voice over and over again. she'll at least have some memory
of him. their other child is 2 years old. he doesn't even know what's going on. three men who gave a lot to this country. >> it's so sad. these folks you and i have been witnessing, so resilient. thank you. thank you very much, poppy harlow. when we come back, we're going to take you back to that memorial service. you're going to hear from the president of the united states. >> i confessed to them that words are always inadequate in these kinds of situations, but that my main task was to serve as a representative of the entire country and let them know that we are thinking about them at this moment and will continue to think about them each and every day. [ kimi ] atti and i had always called oregon home.
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he met the governor and the mayor, but he spent the most time with people who were injured in that horrible shooting. and with families of those though who died. he spoke briefly afterward. we want you to hear his comments. here's the president in aurora earlier this evening. >> i had a chance to visit with each family and most of the conversation was filled with memory. it was an opportunity for families to describe how wonderful their brother or their son or daughter was. and the lives that they had touched and the dreams they held for the future. i confessed to them that words are always inadequate in these kinds of situations, but that my main task was to serve as a representative of the entire country and let them know that
we are thinking about them at this moment and will continue to think about them each and every day and that the awareness that not only all of america but much of the world is thinking about them might serve as some comfort. i also tried to assure them that although the perpetrator of this evil act has received a lot of attention over the last couple of days, that attention will fade away. in the end, after he has felt the full force of our justice system, what will be remembered are the good people who were impacted by this tragedy. and i also had a chance to give folks some hugs and to shed some
tears but also to share some laughs as they remembered the wonderful lives that these men and women represented. i also had a chance, fortunately, to visit some folks who are going to be okay thanks to the extraordinary efforts of the staff at this hospital. i just want to thank everybody who's worked tirelessly here to deal with this tragedy. ♪ ♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] what's the point of an epa estimated 42 miles per gallon if the miles aren't interesting? the lexus ct hybrid.
we have really seen some very emotional scenes here in aurora, colorado, today, starting with the makeshift memorial that was set up across the street. this one, this is the site of the official memorial service that was held at aurora municipal center earlier this evening. it started off with choirs and with singers. then the mayor of aurora introduced the governor of colorado, john hickenlooper. just to tell you a little bit about what they talked about today. everyone pretty much from the mayor to the governor, even the president of the united states, really striking the same tone and the same sentiment saying they didn't really want to talk
about and focus on this shooter, this alleged 24-year-old shooter here. they wanted to talk about the people in this community. they wanted to talk about the survivors. they talked about the heros. when they said they didn't want to talk about this guy, they got applause from a crowd that was very somber for all of the day and people who have been somber and sad and are grieving and have been for more than 48 hours now. as we look at these dramatic pictures, you see people hugging, embracing, and really drawing together. drawing themselves together and trying to rise out of this tragedy. they said that they would. they would rise out of this tragedy, that this community would come back to life and be an even better community than it was before. i've heard you, people who have been reaching out, viewers who have been saying, we don't want to hear about the suspected gunman anymore. it's not time to talk about him. we can talk about him tomorrow when he enters the courtroom tomorrow morning.
i'll be at that courtroom. maybe we'll learn something about him. now is the time to focus on this community, to focus on the family members, to focus on the loved ones, to focus on the people who were lost, mothers, fathers, people who were in the military, even a 6-year-old girl. and it may just be 12 people, which a lot of people -- the biggest mass shooting in u.s. history, but this reverberates throughout the country and throughout the world. thousands and thousands, if not millions of people, are affected by this. final thoughts when we come back. ♪
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and two free coolfit pillows! plus, through saturday only, receive free shipping. only at one of our 400 sleep number stores, where queen mattresses start at just $699. so tomorrow we will focus on the suspect when he enters a courtroom. but right now we want to focus on this community, a community that has really had a very tumultuous day, and a community who, right now, gathering together and pulling each other up, and there are some very brave men and women who live many this community and who are vowing now that they will come back and they will not let this incident ruin their happy lives and their wonderful community. so i'm going to leave you with the sights and sounds of the day of people who we are thinking
when you beat somebody in the ring, you're not just beating them up or something. you're, like, beating the entire symbolism of them. you're beating who they are. marlen esparza's early mornings always start with math. how much to eat. how far to run. how many pounds, sprints, crunches. how many endless hours of
training will it take to win? why are you here every day? >> because i want to win. this is my life and this is what i do, like, and i can honestly say, like, this is who i am. like, right here, you're with it. you see it. this is what i do. >> marlen is the five-time national boxing champion. >> morning. >> good morning. >> she only interrupts her training to work at this houston dental office with her mother, carmen. >> i've seen her come in and she's all, like, just pouring down sweat. and when she's training really hard, i'm like, marlen, you want to eat something? she's like, no, i can't. i can't. she makes me want to cry when she does that. >> the family struggles to find the money for national tournaments. >> i've gone as far as even here at work. to say, hey, we -- you know, we don't have the money to send her. even the girls here at work have said, you know, here's 20. here's 60.