CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — Twelve people were killed and dozens of others were wounded while attending a midnight movie premiere July 20, 2012, at a theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora. Here’s a look at those who died:
Blunk was a 26-year-old father of two young children. He was a Navy veteran, and friends said he served three tours in the Persian Gulf and North Arabian Sea and hoped to re-enlist to become a Navy SEAL. His girlfriend, Jansen Young, who was injured in the theater shooting, testified that Blunk threw himself in front of her and saved her life. He tried to push her underneath the seats.
“He said, `Jansen, we have to get down and stay down,'” she said.
Blunk lived in Aurora, working for a small flooring company. His estranged wife and their two children lived in Reno, Nevada.
ALEXANDER J. BOIK
Boik was 18 and just graduated from Gateway High School in Aurora. He was to start classes at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in the fall of 2012.
Gateway Principal Bill Hedges said Boik planned to become an art teacher. Friends said he was known for making them laugh.
“He was a ball of joy,” his friend Jordan Crofter said. “He was never sad or depressed. He wanted everybody to be happy.”
Boik went to the movie with his girlfriend, Lasamoa Cross, who testified that the couple snapped a photo of themselves just before the show started, with Boik wrapping his arm around her shoulders. The two had been excited to see the show, so “it was a big moment,” she said.
When the shooting started, Boik told Cross they needed to leave, she said. They took just two steps before he hit the ground.
Childress, 29, was an Air Force staff sergeant and a cyber-systems operator at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora. He went to the movie with friends, including Munirih Gravelly, who was injured.
“He would help anyone and always was great for our Air Force unit,” Tech Sgt. Alejandro Sanchez said shortly after the shootings. Sanchez and Childress belonged to the same unit.
Gravelly had worked with Childress at Buckley for about a month, and they were becoming friends. They decided to go to the movie with two other friends.
“I was really looking forward to working with him, and he was gone, just like that,” Gravelly told The Associated Press. “If Jesse hadn’t been sitting where he was, I would have been dead. He saved my life, pretty much.”
Cowden, 51, lived in Aurora and owned a business. He went to the movie with his two teenage daughters, who escaped the theater unharmed.
“A quick-witted world traveler with a keen sense of humor, he will be remembered for his devotion to his children and for always trying his best to do the right thing, no matter the obstacle,” Cowden’s family said after his death.
One of his daughters, Brooke Cowden, testified that she had spent the day with her father, baking cookies and running with him as they sometimes did. She recalled her father telling her he loved her just before he died.
Ghawi, 24, moved to Colorado in 2011 and hoped to be a sports broadcaster. She survived a shooting at a Toronto mall just a few weeks before she died in Aurora.
She posted on a blog that the experience showed her “how fragile life was.”
A friend, Brenton Lowak, went to the movie with Ghawi and was injured. Lowak testified that he and Ghawi spent the day by her pool before she persuaded him to go to the theater.
When he realized Ghawi was shot, he said he prayed over her body and “tried to give her the best send-off I could.”
Former colleagues described Ghawi as ambitious and hardworking. Her mother, Sandy Phillips, attended the trial daily, always wearing Ghawi’s green scarf.
“I get hugs from her every day if I wear it, so I wear it every day,” she told reporters.
Larimer, 27, went to the movie with his girlfriend, Julia Vojtsek. When they heard gunfire, “John grabbed my head and pushed me to the ground,” Vojtsek testified. “He was protecting me.”
Larimer was a Navy petty officer 3rd class who worked as a cryptologic technician at Buckley Air Force Base. “A valued member of our Navy team, he will be missed by all who knew him,” Cmdr. Jeffrey Jakuboski, his commanding officer, said in a written statement.
McQuinn, 27, and his girlfriend, Samantha Yowler, worked at a Target store after moving to Colorado from Ohio the previous fall.
McQuinn had an early morning shift the next day, but they decided to go to the movie anyway.
When the shooting started, McQuinn dived in front of his girlfriend and her brother, Nick Yowler, said Rob Scott, an attorney representing the two families.
McQuinn had talked about plans to move back to Ohio to work at a car parts factory near St. Paris; perhaps he would marry Yowler. He was homesick after struggling for a year to find full-time work in Colorado, his mother, Jerri Jackson, said after the shooting.
Medek was 23 and was attending community college classes while working at a Subway sandwich shop. She went to the movie with about 10 friends.
Medek was an independent-minded and sweet girl who rarely asked her family for anything, her aunt, Jenny Zakovich, has said.
“She was one who wouldn’t hurt anybody,” Zakovich said. “She was a very loving person.”
Six-year-old Veronica was the youngest person killed in the attack. Her mother, Ashley Moser, thought she was taking her daughter to a cartoon movie and worried Veronica would be frightened when she realized it was an action movie, friends said.
Moser testified that she stood up to take her daughter out of the theater when the shooting started, but Veronica’s hand slipped out of hers.
Moser said she then felt a pain in her chest and fell on top of her daughter, unable to move. Moser was left paralyzed and suffered a miscarriage.
Sullivan went to the movie to celebrate his 27th birthday and his first wedding anniversary. “Alex was a gentle giant, known and loved by so many,” his family said. “He always had a glowing smile on his face and he made friends with everyone. Alex enjoyed all sorts of movies, was an avid comic book geek and loved the New York Mets.”
Sullivan had gone to the theater with a big group of friends and co-workers from a Red Robin restaurant. When a trailer for a new Superman movie showed, Sullivan stood up and shouted, “Yeah!” prompting others in the audience to clap and cheer.
Teves, 24, had just earned a master’s degree in counseling psychology. His girlfriend, Amanda Teves – who changed her last name to Teves after the shooting – testified they went to the movie with a large group of friends. When the gunfire began, Alexander Teves dived onto her to protect her, Amanda said.
“He just kept shushing me and telling me it was going to be all right,” she said. When she realized someone in their group had been shot, she screamed his name but heard no response. A friend yelled that they needed to leave, so Teves grabbed her boyfriend’s hand. “I wanted to try to take him with me,” she said.
Teves’ parents, Caren and Tom Teves, have urged news organizations to focus more on the victims and less on the gunman.
Wingo, 32, was the single mother of two daughters. An Air Force veteran, she had started a job several months before the shooting as a customer relations representative at a mobile medical imaging company. “If she put her mind to something she was going to get it done,” a friend, Cody Shafer, said. “What an example she set for her little girls.”
Wingo had recently started spending time with Marcus Weaver, and the two went to the theater together. Weaver, who was wounded in the shooting, said he tried to protect her the best he could.