CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4) – Among the victims and family members of victims at Monday’s formal charging of alleged Aurora movie theater shooter James Holmes was the aunt of both a woman who was partially paralyzed in the shooting and girl who was killed.

MaryEllen Hansen is the great aunt of Veronica Moser-Sullivan, the 6-year-old who died in the July 20 shooting, and the sister of Ashley Moser’s father. Moser is Veronica’s mom and remains hospitalized.

“The family is struggling. It has been very hard, it’s such a shock. At this point we’re just trying to take one day at a time,” said Hansen, a former principal of Ken Caryl Middle School in Jefferson County.

Hansen told reporters her niece Ashley is fully aware of what happened and relying on lots of love from her family. Ashley was pregnant when she was shot but miscarried this weekend. She also had an operation on Sunday in which part of her lobe removed because of damage from a bullet.

Veronica Moser-Sullivan, left, and Ashley Moser, right (credit: CBS)

“Ashley’s struggling right now,” said Hansen. “She’s going to be paralyzed and at this point we do have hope that she’ll have use of her arms.”

Hansen said it was important for her to be at Holmes’ court appearance in person Monday, where she was joined by Veronica’s father, who she said is “very heartbroken.”

Hansen said she thought Holmes looked lucid and alert in court. She said he “had a persona of evilness to him” but that he looked sane. She said she holds “a lot of anger that anybody had the right to do something like that.”

Despite those feelings, Hansen said she doesn’t think Holmes should get the death penalty.

“I believe he should probably be just locked away and live with what he did every day of his life,” she said.

There are currently no plans for Veronica’s funeral because the family is hopeful Ashley will be able to be present for it. It’s not clear how long Ashley will remain in the hospital. According to Hansen, she may be taken to Craig Hospital, which specializes in brain injuries.

“It’s going to be a very long recovery, not to mention the emotional piece of it all as well,” she said.

Hansen said prosecutors have brought up the possibility of a terrorism charge in the Holmes case, something that might not be permitted under Colorado laws. It’s something she feels should be looked into, though.

Hansen said the family appreciates the love and prayers that have been sent their way from across the country, and she encouraged anyone who feels that they can help to donate to the Aurora Victim Relief Fund.


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