By Mekialaya White

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Monday marks eight years since the deadly Aurora theater shooting. This year on July 20, a small group of family and friends gathered at the 7/20 Memorial around midnight to honor the victims while it was streamed online.

(credit: CBS)

Over the past eight years, Marcus Weaver has come a long way. And he’s doing great things with his life.

“It’s just been a journey. Lots of peaks and valleys,” he said.

Weaver is a husband, father, and philanthropist. He’s also a survivor. Weaver was inside the Century 16 Theater in Aurora when a gunman opened fire in 2012.

(credit: Marcus Weaver)

“I wasn’t even expecting to go to the movie that day. I had promised a friend I met a month before, Rebecca Wingo, that we would go to the movie theater that night. So I went and got tickets earlier that day because she had reminded me,” Weaver explained. “She came after work and we went inside that theater. At that time, she had wanted to start a nonprofit. She had wanted to work with homeless teens. I really felt her heart and spirit was so in the right place.”

Wingo never got that chance. She was killed that night. Weaver was shot in his arm.

“I was on the floor of that theater and she wasn’t moving. It was a difficult time. A voice in my head said to leave the theater at the right time and I escaped, but the sounds, what you hear in your head, they didn’t leave me.”

Since then, he’s worked to overcome the trauma and make a difference. He says the power of community was crucial in the process.

“I don’t have the sound in my head, or feel like I’m on the theater of the floor anymore because I’ve had so much support and it’s been wonderful.”

(credit: Marcus Weaver)

He credits part of his recovery to giving back to others. He volunteers at the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless daily and has also started his own company called Lower the Barrier. It helps create economic opportunities for marginalized people, including those experiencing homelessness and battling addiction.

“The people who need our help need it more than ever before, so we try to lower the barrier and not the bar. Giving back to that community, I feel it’s a way for me to give back to those people who helped me along the road when I was down, when I needed a helping hand.”

Weaver also gives back on a national level through the Onsite Foundation, which provides tools for mass shooting survivors. He serves on the organization’s survivor advisory council.

“It’s a six-person team comprised of mass shooting survivors. From Columbine to Parkland, Charleston, Las Vegas, Nashville, and obviously the Aurora situation, which I am honored to be a part of,” said Weaver. “They are lifelong family and friends. I no longer have nightmares anymore. It really lets survivors know that help is out there. I think as you’re recovering from a mass shooting, there’s no one that’s been through that experience. It’s hard to talk to folks about it.”

Going forward, Weaver says he’s hopeful.

“I look forward to the road ahead because I don’t have to deal with some of the things that have been bothering me for years. I’ve become an overcomer, not just a survivor.”

Mekialaya White

  1. Why do I get the feeling that the moment we have (God forbid) another mass shooting, support for police is going to go way up as people realize that they’re essential workers too? Public awareness/support for police shouldn’t have to work this way but Americans have horrifically short memories. Yes we need police who have better training, fewer union protections against liability in brutality cases and better job screening (improved applicant psychological profiling). But this idea that all cops are racist, particularly in view that they’ve been putting their lives on the line in an added way during this pandemic is both sad and unacceptable. Does anybody bother to imagine what a a “Day in the Life of a Law Enforcement Officer” must be like? Police have to look at the victims of gang violence with their brains blown out on the streets — many of them CHILDREN. It’s a wonder more of our police aren’t killing themselves (police suicides is a thing too!) — or us. It’s a stressful, thankless job and now to that we have a public sense of fear that all cops are out to kill all brown people (even though many officers are themselves brown!).

    How did it come to this?

    Police defunding — or redirecting funds, however you want to call it — pulls the rug out from under our already tenuous public safety in many highly populated areas, without any real idea of what replaces police amounts to a reckless public policy experiment. If protestors could lay out demands of what replaces — not just this “re-imagine” virtue signaling — we might have a basis to move forward with tangible change. But it seems to be more political as Cities across the nation are allowing protests to go on for weeks on end without (apparently) responding to protestors concerns/demands. To protest without a clear objective of what comes next — as the late Martin Luther King Jr. did in protesting on behalf of the Voting Rights Act — is not only an exercise in futility, since nobody in leadership knows how to respond, but promises to explode the COVID-19 cases and the deaths that many families suffer (particularly older adults and in communities of color!). To protest for the sake of protest — without a leader and without an articulated plan, as Dr. King offered in his generation — is SELFISH timing given that the pandemic is on the rise. Have a plan, like MLK did, or go home and think through what you want and then get out and vote for people who support what REPLACES that which you wish to defund. First things first? Define what “re-imagine” means.

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