More details of movie theater rampage emerge

CNN Wire

10:04 AM CDT, July 20, 2012

Aurora, Colo.


The father of Jessica Ghawi awaited news Friday about the fate of his daughter, an aspiring Colorado sports reporter who is reported to have been killed in the theater shooting in Colorado.

"I'm sending my son to Denver to confirm what's happened," said Nick Ghawi, fearing reports of his daughter's death after a gunman burst into a theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora and began shooting early Friday. Ghawi, who also goes by the name Jessica Redfield, narrowly escaped a Toronto mall shooting last month.

She tweeted on Thursday that she was headed to see the "The Dark Knight Rises," the latest installment in the Batman movie series.

"Movie doesn't start for 20 minutes," she wrote.

Her friend and fellow movie-goer, Brent Lowek, was shot by the gunman and recently emerged from surgery at a nearby medical facility, his stepfather, Dan Greene, said in an interview.

"It looks like he's going to be OK," Greene told CNN.

CNN affiliate KSAT reported that Till had been killed, citing relatives.

Benjamin Hochman, a reporter for The Denver Post, described Ghawi as an effervescent, budding journalist with a love of hockey who had been trying to break into the competitive world of sports reporting in Denver.

"I woke up this morning and saw that people had been texting me to make sure I was OK," said Hochman, who then checked Facebook and saw postings about Ghawi.

He'd written a letter of recommendation for the Texas native a few months ago, and the two became fast friends.

In June, Ghawi had been visiting her boyfriend, a minor league hockey player, in Toronto when they escaped a deadly shooting in the city's main downtown mall.

"I can't get this odd feeling out of my chest," she wrote in a blog posted on June 5. "This empty, almost sickening feeling won't go away. I noticed this feeling when I was in the Eaton Center in Toronto just seconds before someone opened fire in the food court. An odd feeling which led me to go outside and unknowingly out of harm's way. It's hard for me to wrap my mind around how a weird feeling saved me from being in the middle of a deadly shooting."

She added that "gun crimes are fairly common where I grew up in Texas, but I never imagined I'd experience a violent crime first hand."

"I was shown how fragile life was on Saturday. I saw the terror on bystanders' faces. I saw the victims of a senseless crime. I saw lives change," she wrote. "I was reminded that we don't know when or where our time on Earth will end. When or where we will breathe our last breath."

Ghawi said the incident reminded her that "every moment we have to live our life is a blessing."

"So often I have found myself taking it for granted. Every hug from a family member. Every laugh we share with friends. Even the times of solitude are all blessings. Every second of every day is a gift. After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given," she wrote.

The shooting on Friday killed 12 people and wounded 38, authorities said.

A police officer was seen carrying a young girl, described as bloodied and motionless, after the gunman burst into a packed movie theater during the midnight showing.

"I honestly can't think of any kind of person who would intentionally hurt a little girl," Alex Milano told CNN affiliate KUSA. "I don't know whose little girl that was, but my heart goes out to them."

A 3-month-old was among the dozens injured in a shooting that left 12 dead, hospital officials said.

"I saw at least four maybe five people who were limping, wounded," Milano told the affiliate. "The most that I saw was a girl that was pretty much covered in blood and she didn't have any wounds on her. It made me think the worst."

Police initially said 14 people had died, 10 in the theater and four at hospitals, but they revised the death toll to 12 later Friday morning.

Milano said he was in the Aurora theater multiplex when the shooting took place, in a theater adjacent to theater 9, where the incident occurred.

"I saw holes in the wall," Milano said. Shots rang out and an acrid gas filled the room, he said. "I heard moaning like they were in pain."

The scene was described as chaotic by numerous movie-goers.

"There was this one guy who was on all fours crawling. There was this girl spitting up blood," Donovan Tate told CNN affiliate KCNC. "There were bullet holes in some people's backs, some people's arms."

Tate said a bullet grazed his friend's neck. He said he is doing well and being treated at a medical facility.

But another friend, he said, has remained unreachable.

The shooter had at least four guns -- an "AK type" rifle, a shotgun and two handguns. Police say they arrested a 24-year-old man believed to be the shooter in a rear parking lot of the theater. Two federal law enforcement sources involved in the investigation identified the suspect as James Holmes, 24, of Aurora.