CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP)– Twelve people were killed and 70 were injured at a midnight movie premiere on July 20, 2012, in Aurora. Here’s a look at those who died:
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Blunk was a 26-year-old father of two young children, Hailey and Maximus. 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. He lived in Aurora, working for a small flooring company. His estranged wife, Chantel Blunk, and their two children lived in Reno, Nevada.
Chantel Blunk recalled Jonathan as free-spirited and outgoing, strong-willed and positive despite difficult teenage years.
“He was a very strong person,” she testified at trial. “He wanted his kids to look up to him like a superhero.”
ALEXANDER J. BOIK
Boik was 18 and had 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.
His mother, Mary Theresa Hoover, described him as a “ball of happiness” who “bounced into rooms” and made friends everywhere he went. Boik loved to skateboard and once considered a career as a professional baseball player before finding his artistic talent.
He had recently become engaged to Lasamoa Cross, and the two went to the movie together. They snapped a photo of themselves just before the show started, with Boik wrapping his arm around her shoulders.
“I am now a single mother of one child,” Hoover said. “I have lost half of what I was put on this Earth to do.”
Childress, 29, grew up in California and became an Air Force staff sergeant and a cyber-systems operator at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora. His mother, Lisa Childress, recalled his dry sense of humor and said he loved to play sports and travel.
“He was like Santa for his two younger brothers,” she said. “He was very generous.”
He went to the movie with friends, including Munirih Gravelly, who was injured.
“If Jesse hadn’t been sitting where he was, I would have been dead,” Gravelly said. “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, Brooke and Cierra, who escaped the theater unharmed.
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.
Cierra Cowden said he was a World War II history buff who grew up in Texas.
“He was loving, dedicated, patient,” she said. “It’s selfish to say, but I just miss him being my dad.”
Ghawi, 24, moved to Colorado in 2011 and hoped to be a sports broadcaster. She had survived a shooting at a Toronto mall just a few weeks before she died in Aurora.
She loved hockey, had an internship covering the Colorado Avalanche and was looking forward to future job prospects, jetting around to interviews and doing promotional shoots. Just minutes before the shooting, she sent her mother, Sandy Phillips, a text message telling her she looked forward to seeing her soon. She wrote, “I need my mama!” to which Phillips replied, “I need my baby girl!”
The two were best friends, Phillips testified, wearing Ghawi’s green scarf around her shoulders. “You couldn’t help but be charmed by her.”
Larimer, 27, was a Navy petty officer 3rd class who worked as a cryptologic technician at Buckley Air Force Base. He had an eye for detail and was so skilled in his work that his colleagues created a special award in his honor, his mother, Kathleen Larimer testified.
He was the youngest of five children who grew up in Crystal Lake, Illinois and liked to muse about running for president in 2020. He loved to surprise his family, once dressing up like Where’s Waldo to sneak into family photos.
In Colorado, he loved to hike. Looking at a photo of him against a craggy mountainside, his mother said, “he seems so confident. He seemed so content with the decisions he had made and where he was at.”
Larimer went to the movie with his girlfriend, Julia Vojtsek, and died protecting her.
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McQuinn, 27, and his girlfriend, Samantha Yowler, worked at a Target store after moving to Colorado from Springfield, 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.
McQuinn had talked about moving back to Ohio to work at a car parts factory near St. Paris; perhaps he would marry Yowler, his mother, Jerri Jackson testified. He was homesick after struggling for a year to find full-time work in Colorado.
“He was always smiling,” Jackson said. “His eyes just had mischief in them.”
Medek was 23 and attending community college classes while working at a Subway sandwich shop. She went to the movie with about 10 friends.
She was part of a close-knit family who lived in Aurora and got together regularly, her older sister Amanda Medek said.
Her Christmas gifts were often endearing “IOUs” for things like dinner and time spent together
Micayla was “filled with love,” Amanda said. “She was just about to be a college kid. She was young. She was never in love. She never got to have a family.”
Six-year-old Veronica was the youngest person killed in the attack. Her mother, Ashley Moser, was paralyzed and suffered a miscarriage. She described Veronica as an upbeat child who preferred coloring, looking at books and playing in parks over toys.
“She was my little silly-billy,” Moser testified through tears.
Her grandfather, Robert Sullivan, said she liked to camp and hike and tried to ski as best she could.
“There’s only six years there, but you could see the seeds of great potential,” Sullivan said. “I’d pick her up like a sack of potatoes and she would giggle and shriek in delight. To me, she personified a little angel.”
Sullivan went to the movie to celebrate his 27th birthday and his first wedding anniversary. He went with friends he knew from a Red Robin restaurant where he had been learning the ins and outs of the restaurant industry.
His father, Tom Sullivan, described Alex as “every father’s dream” and a best friend who would stand and sing with him at U2 concerts when “Sunday Bloody Sunday” was played, in honor of their Irish heritage. When Alex was old enough, they started going to Las Vegas together on father-son-trips.
“Now we have an empty seat at our table, and there’s a glass of Jameson sitting in front of it,” Tom Sullivan said.
With Alex, he said, “We never had to grow up. On the morning he was murdered, I was forced to grow up. So from this point forward, all I am doing is getting older.”
Teves, 24, had just earned a master’s degree in counseling and psychology. His girlfriend, Amanda — 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 was the oldest of three brothers who spent most of his childhood in Arizona but moved to Denver for graduate school. His mother, Caren Teves, said he already had experience working as a counselor, mentoring teens and teaching them to respect themselves and their families. He always looked out for the less fortunate, once spending days at the bedside of a friend who had been in a roll-over accident.
“That’s who he always was,” Caren Teves said. “He always had this brilliant smile on his face. He just emanated joy.”
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.
Her ex-husband, Robert Wingo Jr., recalled her energy and “huge smile.” Her murder robbed the two young girls of their mother’s fearless and intelligent guidance, he said.
“She was the fun mom. She always encouraged them to explore and be whatever they wanted to,” Robert Wingo said.
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