Saturday, July 21, 2012

Aurora shooting victims: Heroism and heartbreak as last moments revealed

 Matt McQuinn and girlfriend Samantha Yowler.


Shooting victim Matt McQuinn and girlfriend Samantha Yowler.

Matt McQuinn's last living act was to shield his girlfriend from the hail of bullets sprayed by the gunman behind the Aurora, Colo., multiplex massacre.

The 27-year-old was among the 12 moviegoers killed in one of the worst mass shootings in American history.

His girlfriend, Samantha Yowler, 26, survived with a gunshot wound to the leg and is in fair condition after undergoing surgery. Her life was saved by the quick actions of McQuinn and Samantha's brother.

Nick Yowler, who had joined the couple for the midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises," was unharmed in the shooting.

"Both the Yowler and McQuinn families thank everyone for their concerns, thoughts and prayers during this difficult time," the McQuinn's lawyer, Robert Scott said in a statement. "The families ask for everyone to be patient and respect their wishes during this very difficult time."
McQuinn and his girlfriend, both Ohio natives, met as co-workers in a Springfield, Ohio, Target store.
They both transferred last November to another Target location in Aurora, near where Nick Yowler had been living for the past ten years, the Dayton Daily News reported.

McQuinn “was a great outgoing person," a co-worker at the Colorado Target super store told The News. "We lost a great person and we still can't picture or realize that he's gone."

Other known victims of the shooting are:

Jon Blunk - Deceased


Jon Blunk was a victim in the Aurora shootings. His girlfriend Jansen Young was saved when Blunk threw himself on top of her in the hail of gunfire.

Blunk's girlfriend, Jansen Young, said he was fatally shot after pushing her under a seat for protection.
"Jon just took a bullet for me," Young, 21, told the Today show. "He knew and threw me on the ground, and was like, 'We have to get down and stay down,'" she said. "Every gunshot, I was like,
'This is it … I'm done for.'"

Young said that Blunk had previously been in the military and was planning to enlist again. She said she tried to rouse him when the shooting was over, but he didn't move. "He is the guy that would take a bullet for you. He did the right thing all the time," she told Today. "I know I would not be here today if Jon had not been next to me in that movie theater."

John Thomas Larimer, 27 - Deceased


John Larimer, a U.S. Navy sailor, was a victim in the Aurora shootings. Before his death was confirmed, his family described terrifying efforts to reach him. “We cannot get any help from the military, the police, the hospitals, the Red Cross. ... We cannot get a single answer if he is alive or dead. ... We are more than frantic.”

Larimer was a Navy sailor stationed in Aurora and a native of Crystal Lake, Ill. A cryptologic technician third class, he joined the Navy last year and was stationed at Buckley Air Force Base.

"I am incredibly saddened by the loss of Petty Officer John Larimer — he was an outstanding shipmate," said Cmdr. Jeffrey Jakuboski, Larimer's commanding officer. "A valued member of our Navy team, he will be missed by all who knew him."
Before his death was confirmed, his family described frantic efforts to reach him.
"We have literally been calling for 15 hours," Scott Larimer told the Chicago Sun Times. "We cannot get any help from the military, the police, the hospitals, the Red Cross. ... We cannot get a single answer if he is alive or dead. ... We are more than frantic."

Jessica Ghawi, 24 - Deceased

@JessicaRedfield via Twitter

Jessica Ghawi, 24, was a victim in the Aurora shootings. She was an intern at Mile High Sports Radio and wrote for the sports website Busted Coverage under the name of JessicaRedfield. The final post on her blog described escaping a shooting at the Eaton Center mall in Toronto last month, where seven people were injured and one died.

Sports writer Jessica Ghawi moved to the Denver area from San Antonio about a year ago. The final post on her blog described escaping a shooting at the Eaton Center mall in Toronto last month, where seven people were injured and one died.

"I noticed this feeling when I was in Eaton Center in Toronto just seconds before someone opened fire in the food court," she wrote. "An odd feeling which led me to go outside and unknowingly out of harm's way."

She wasn't so lucky in the Aurora theater, where she and a friend cowered on the ground before she was shot twice, in the leg and then in the head, her family said.

Ghawi, who wrote under the name Jessica Redfield, was an intern at Mile High Sports Radio and wrote for the sports website Busted Coverage.

Her firefighter brother Jordan Ghawi described on his website how a friend tried — in vain — to save her.

"While still administering first aid, Brent noticed that Jessica was no longer screaming," he wrote.

Her boyfriend, minor league hockey player Jay Meloff, posted on Twitter: "Never wanted to fall asleep because it meant missing time with you."

Micayla Medek, 23 - Deceased


Micayla Medek, 23, was a victim in the Aurora shootings. She described herself on her Facebook page as “a simple independent girl who’s just trying to get her life together while still having fun.”

Medek, of Westminster, Colo., was a student at Community College of Aurora and worked at a Subway store. She described herself on her Facebook page as "a simple independent girl who's just trying to get her life together while still having fun."

Friends Medek went to the movie with told her family they tried to carry her out of the theater.

"She was coughing and she fell to the ground, and that's when the police or whoever was trying to help her ushered them out and said 'There is nothing you can do,'" her aunt Jenny Zakovich told the Los Angeles Times.

"He was absolutely hysterical, just sobbing, 'I want to get my baby and bring her home,'" she said of Medek's father. "He feels she is lying on the floor of the theater and it is making him insane."

Alex Sullivan, 27 - Deceased


Sullivan died on his 27th birthday, celebrating with a movie with a big group of friends.

"Oh man one hour till the movie and its going to be the best BIRTHDAY ever," he tweeted before the movie started.

The married bartender was killed just two days before his first wedding anniversary with his wife, Cassandra.

"The Sullivan family lost a cherished member of their family today," the family said in a statement. "Alex was smart, funny, and above all loved dearly by his friends and family."

His father, Tom, was captured in a photograph that quickly became a face of the tragedy in an anguished embrace with his family outside the theater, where he had been frantically showing a photo of his son and looking for information.
Jesse Childress - Deceased

Air Force Staff Sergeant Jesse Childress was among the dead, an Air Force spokesman said. He was an Air Force reservist on active duty with the 310 Force Support Squadron.

AJ Boik - Deceased


A.J. Boik was a victim in the Aurora shootings. 

Friends posted on Twitter that Boik, of Aurora, died in the shooting.

"RIP Aj Boik, you were such a great friend," wrote Danielle Euglow.

He was a distributor at Organo Gold, a coffee company, and went to Gateway High School in Aurora.

Alex Teves - Deceased



Alex Teves was a victim in the Aurora shootings. 

A friend who was with Teves in the theater posted on Twitter that he had been killed.

"Alex Teves was one of the best men I ever knew. The world isn't as good a place without him," wrote a woman named Caitlin. "Alex Teves was a Arizona basketball fan, loved Spider-Man, was an amazing therapist, and died a hero...He could make us all laugh with his Gollum impression. I'll never forget that."

Teves recently graduated from the University of Denver and was planning to start graduate school for physical therapy. "He was a wonderful person,” his aunt Barbara Slivinske told the Daily News. “He didn't have a mean bone in his body. He was loved by everyone," she said. "He was a lot of fun, he had a great sense of humor, and he was very intelligent. He loved everybody and everybody loved him."

Veronica Moser, 6 - Deceased

Little Veronica Moser was the youngest victim of the shooting, her great-aunt confirmed Saturday.
"This is just a nightmare right now," Annie Dalton told NBC News. "It's a nightmare."

Veronica's mother, Ashley Moser, 25, was shot in the throat and abdomen and in critical condition, Dalton said.

Rebecca Wingo - Deceased

Rebecca Wingo via Facebook

Rebecca Wingo was one of the victims in the Aurora shootings.

Wingo was a mom of two and a Community College of Aurora student. She was at the movie with her friend Marcus Weaver, who was shot but survived. “I was in Theater 9 for the 12:05 a.m. Batman Aurora Century.Twenty minutes in gun fire erupted from the corner," Weaver told TV station WGNT. "My friend Rebecca Wingo and I hit the floor. Round after round. It was insane. People screaming, bullets flying. I pulled her out but she was unconscious. I was shot in the arm and have fragments in my shoulder. I’m thankful to be alive. Please pray for Rebecca Wingo and all the wounded. I can’t believe this."

Gordon Cowden - Deceased

The Denver Post reports that Gordon Cowden is the last victim to be identified, according to the Arapahoe County Coroner's Office.

Christopher Rapoza - Injured

Rapoza, of Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, was shot in the back, and posted photos online showing his graze wound and a bloody T-shirt. "I'm doing all right just a little shook up," Rapoza, who plays bass for the punk band The Toothaches, posted on Reddit. "Me and my girlfriend waited until it seemed the shooting was finished so we were some of the last people out of the theatre and there was a lot of blood."

Stephen Barton, 22 - Injured

Barton was on a cross country bike trip with a pal when they stopped in Aurora and decided to take in
the Batman movie. He was shot in the left side of the neck and suffered shrapnel wounds to his face
and right arm, and was recovering after surgery.

"My memory is only of the muzzle, of the flash. ... I didn't even see a figure behind the gun," he told the Los Angeles Times. "It was cold and calculated, definitely...It seemed very methodical, just the rate at which he was firing and how he wasn't really moving positions. He was just like unloading into a crowd."

Once Barton recovers, he wants to finish the cross-country bike trip, he said.

Samantha Yowler - Injured

Yowler suffered a bullet wound to the leg even though her boyfriend and brother shielded her with their bodies. The boyfriend, Matt McQuinn, was killed. The couple had moved from Ohio to the Denver area last year and worked together at a local Target.

Petra Anderson, 22 - Injured

Anderson was shot four times with shotgun pellets, one of which entered her nose and traveled through her brain.

The Colorado native graduated from the University of the Pacific in May and planned to go to graduate school at the University of Maryland in the fall, according to the Aurora Sentinel.

Zak Golditch, 17 - Injured

Golditch was in an adjacent theater and was hit in the neck by a bullet that went through the wall, according to the Aurora Sentinel. The rising senior and football and track star at Gateway High School was treated and released from a hospital.

Louis Duran, 18 - Injured

Duran was shot in the head, leg, arm and chest and was recovering at home, according to ABC News.
"He said it felt like getting punched in the head and it was really hot," said his friend Jahlil Hall. "Then he felt like his arm had been blown off. He ran over to the stairs and some random guy helped him out of the theater."

Gage Hankins, 18 - Injured

Hankins, of Forest, Ohio, was in an adjacent theater and hit by flying shrapnel, suffering a two inch wound, according to the Toledo Blade.

"The surgery went well, it came out very good," his cousin Patrick Massara told the paper.
The Hankins family was visiting Denver for a conference.

Brent Lowek - Injured

Lowek is a friend who went to the movie with Jessica Ghawi, who was killed in the shooting. He was shot and underwent surgery at a nearby hospital.

"It looks like he's going to be OK," his stepfather, Dan Greene, told CNN.

Ryan Lumba, 17 - Injured
Lumba was shot in the stomach and underwent surgery, his mother Remy told ABS-CBN. He graduated from Eaglecrest High School this year and enrolled at Western State in Gunnison, Colo.

Caleb Medley - Injured
Medley was shot in the face and in critical condition at a Denver hospital, according to KRDO radio.
His wife, Katie, who was with him in the theater is nine months pregnant and was uninjured. Medley and his wife moved to the Denver area from Florence, Colo. recently so her could pursue a career in comedy.

Bonnie Kate Porciau, 18 - Injured

Porciau, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was shot in the knee, according to the Advocate.

"We have so much to be thankful for," her mother Kathleen told the paper. "So many people aren't in the same position."

A statement from her family said her "injuries, while serious, are not life-threatening, and the early indicators from her surgery have been encouraging."

Carey Rottman, 27 - Injured

"Shot in the leg at Batman. Where is he when you need him. Please pray for everyone here," the Mequon, Wisc. native posted on Facebook.

Rottman, who lives in Denver, is a sales manager for Coors Distributing Co.

Anggiat Situmeang, 44 - Injured

Situmeang suffered an eye injury in the shooting, according to the Aurora Sentinel. His wife Rita Paulina and their son were also injured. The couple immigrated from Jakarta, Indonesia, ten years ago and were working at the Life Care Center Nursing Home.

Rita Paulina, 44 - Injured

Paulina suffered gunshot wounds to the left hand and the left leg. Her husband Anggiat Situmeang and their son were also injured.

Prodeo Et Patria, 14 - Injured

The teenage son of Rita Paulina and Anggiat Situmeang was shot in the lower back, treated and released.

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