Aurora Massacre: The Victims' Stories
Jonathan Blunk, 26
A father of two and former Navy sailor who'd done three tours in the Middle East and had just reenlisted in hopes of becoming a Navy SEAL, Blunk, 26, took girlfriend Jansen Young to a July 20 midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises at the Century 16 Theater in Aurora, Colo., to celebrate her graduation from veterinary school. He died shielding her from the gunfire of alleged shooter James Eagan Holmes. "Jon took a bullet for me," Young told the New York Daily News.
Jessica Ghawi, 24
An aspiring sports journalist who went by the professional name Jessica Redfield, Ghawi had experienced a brush with death in June, when she exited a Toronto mall moments before a gunman opened fire in the food court where she had just been sitting. "I saw the victims of senseless crime. I saw lives change," she wrote on her blog. "I was reminded that we don't know when or where our time on Earth will end." She was looking forward to becoming a godmother in early August and was eagerly Tweeting about seeing the latest Batman movie just minutes before the attack.
Alexander J. Boik, 18
A.J. Boik had recently graduated from Aurora's Gateway High School, where he was the baseball team's catcher and his class's jokester, and was set to attend the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in the fall. Boik, who aspired to become an art teacher, attended the midnight movie with girlfriend Lasamoa Cross. She survived and, according to The Denver Post, revealed at a July 21 vigil that they were secretly engaged.
Gordon Cowden, 51
The eldest victim of the massacre, Cowden had taken his two teenagers to the movie, both of whom made it out of the theater unharmed. In a statement, his family described him as a "loving father, outdoorsman and small business owner, Cowden was a true Texas gentleman that loved life and his family. 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."
Micayla Medek, 23
Known as Cayla to her friends and family, Medek had her hands full between classes at the Community College of Aurora and her job at a Subway sandwich shop. She planned on graduating in 2015 and finding a career, possibly in computers, but her real passion was Wisconsin football. She rarely missed watching a Green Bay Packers game with her father and sister. "It was probably just like going to church every Sunday," aunt Jenny Zakovich told the Associated Press.
Jesse Childress, 29
Childress was a reservist staff sergeant on active duty at the local Air Force base, and one of two members of the armed services killed that night. He spent his days working on cyber systems and his nights competing on a bowling team with pals. He died throwing himself in front of a friend, Munirih Gravelly, who credits Childress with saving her life. "I feel really sorry ... that he's gone," she told L.A.'s NBC4. "That none of us were able to at least hold his hand and look him in the eye while he passed."
John Larimer, 27
Naval Petty Officer Third Class John Larimer grew up in the Chicago suburbs as the youngest of five siblings. He was working as a cryptologic technician at Buckley Air Force Base, where he demonstrated the irrepressible sense of humor he'd been known for since he was a kid. He died protecting girlfriend Julia Vojtsek from the gunfire. "John knowingly shielded me from a spray of gunshots," she said in a statement. "It was then I believe John was hit with a bullet that would have very possibly struck me. I feel very strongly I was saved by John and his ultimate kindness."
Veronica Moser-Sullivan, 6
Veronica was proudly telling everyone only four days earlier that she'd just learned to swim. "Veronica's a Disney child. She was into her princesses and other sweet little-girl things," her step-grandmother, Anna Moser, told CBS New York. Veronica's mother, Ashley Moser, is pregnant with her second child and had recently been accepted to medical school. She learned of her daughter's death while in critical condition from her own bullet wounds. She's paralyzed, but doctors hope she might eventually regain use of her hands.
Matt McQuinn, 27
Gregarious McQuinn met girlfriend Samantha Yowler at the Ohio Target store where they both worked. When two jobs opened up at a Target store in Denver, where her brother Nick lived, they transferred as a couple. During the massacre, McQuinn and Nick Yowler covered Samantha with their bodies as soon as she was struck in the knee with a bullet. McQuinn was fatally shot. Samantha is expected to make a full recovery; Nick escaped injury.
Alex Teves, 24
Phoenix native Teves had hoped to parlay his new master's degree from the University of Denver into a career as a psychiatrist. Like Blunk and McQuinn, he lost his life saving his girlfriend. Teves pushed Amanda Lindgren to the floor so she wouldn't get hit, but he was fatally wounded. "It's like Alex didn't even hesitate," Lindgren told ABC News. "He held me down and he covered my head and he said, 'Shh. Stay down. It's OK. Shh just stay down.' So I did. … He was my angel that night, but he was my angel every day I knew him."
Rebecca Wingo, 32
Texas native and former Air Force translator Wingo was balancing accounting classes at a community college with work and raising her two young daughters. She'd been employed at a Joe's Crab Shack restaurant but had recently gotten a job as a customer relations rep at a medical-imaging company. "I don't think Rebecca ever met a stranger," friend Cody Shafer tells the Associated Press. "Her smile would just light up a room."
Alex Sullivan, 27
Sullivan worked at the Aurora movie theater where the massacre took place but had decided to spend that night as a patron – to celebrate his 27th birthday. Two days later, he was planning to celebrate his first wedding anniversary with his wife, Cassie. "Alex was a gentle giant, known and loved by so many. 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," his family said in a statement.