Colo. Shooting Survivor and Cop Who Rushed to Theater Open Up About Unlikely Love — and Weathering Hardship

Lasamoa mourned her fiancé after the 2012 Aurora, Colo., shooting. Meanwhile, Cody blamed himself. Now, the two are opening up about moving on — and finding love

Lasamoa Cross and Cody Lanier
Lasamoa and Cody Lanier. Photo: Lasamoa Cross/Instagram

When Lasamoa Cross — now Lasamoa Lanier — attended a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises on July 20, 2012 in Aurora, Colo., she had no idea her life was about to change. That evening, a gunman walked into the theater and opened fire, killing 12 people and injuring 70 others.

After escaping the shooting, Lasamoa went to nearby Gateway High School, where she had formerly been a student, and on that day served as a gathering place for people looking for loved ones who were missing. In the chaos of the gunfire, Lasamoa had become separated from her fiancé, A.J. Boik.

At the school, Lasamoa recognized a school resource officer, Cody Lanier, who'd held that position when Lasamoa was a student not long before. Cody had responded to the theater when he heard reports of the shooting, and then he went to the school, where Lasamoa asked him for help in finding Boik. Sadly, Boik, 18, had been fatally shot in the theater, sending Lasamoa into a tailspin of grief.

Months after the tragedy, after watching court hearings in which police officers testified about the carnage they had witnessed, Lasamoa reached out to Cody: She wanted to express her sympathies for what he had gone through.

"Through the trial testimonies from law enforcement, I started to ground myself a little bit more because it wasn't just me who experienced the shooting, but law enforcement all the same," Lasamoa tells PEOPLE.

Eventually, Cody and Lasamoa met for lunch. During that meeting, they opened up to each other about their trauma stemming from the shooting. A friendship was sparked, and three years later in 2016, Lasamoa and Cody began dating.

In October 2021, Lasamoa and Cody got married in Colorado.

'I Was Not in a Good Spot'

Throughout their friendship and romantic relationship, the two have helped each other heal from the event that brought them together, and have supported each other through additional hardships.

"Prior to Lasamoa and I getting close, I was really having a difficult time," Cody tells PEOPLE. "I didn't even go to the awards ceremony [honoring officers who responded to the shooting] afterwards because I had a very hard time celebrating — or what seemed to be celebrating — an event that ended so awfully, and I had a hard time looking the survivors in the eye."

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Cody says that he was plagued by feelings of guilt after the shooting, telling himself that he didn't do enough to prevent it. He now credits Lasamoa and other survivors for helping him heal by showing that despite their loss, life goes on.

"I think a lot of people fail to realize that the survivors helped us every bit as much as we helped them," says Cody.

Cody adds that Lasamoa has encouraged him to pay attention to his mental health — something that he has sometimes overlooked during his 18 years as a police officer.

"I don't know where I would be, necessarily, had it not been for Lasamoa and I developing the closeness that we did," Cody says. "I was not in a good spot."

Weathering Life's 'Ups and Downs'

For Lasamoa, having Cody in her life has helped her heal, too. Lasamoa says that because he is in law enforcement, she saw, through him, how others navigated through tragedies, which helped her feel less alone.

"It helped me humble myself and helped me find a good sense of community," she says.

As a survivor of a shooting, Lasamoa sees the irony of being married to someone who encounters violence so often in his line of work.

"I'm with someone who experiences and witnesses gun violence on a regular basis, so it's just so unconventional," Lasamoa says. "You'd think my life would be away from things pertaining to gun violence or violence and trauma, but nope."

Lasamoa now works as a wedding photographer, and the couple still resides in Colorado. Following their relationship's origin in the aftermath of a national tragedy, the couple has experienced additional personal struggles.

"We tried to get pregnant and that's been an uphill battle to say the least, and we've experienced loss in pregnancy," Lasamoa says. "So everything is so backwards, you know? I buried someone first before I found someone to marry. It's usually 'I buried my lifelong partner.' I didn't even have A.J. that long."

Lasamoa says she never thought her life would look the way it does now. The lesson? Life is complicated — and she and Cody are able to embrace those complications and forge ahead through love.

"It should be so easy to just have a baby, but no," Lasamoa says. "We have to go through all of this first just like the beginning of our relationship. We had to go through the ups and downs ... Nothing has ever been 'Cody and La sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G' — that doesn't work that way for our tree."

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