Facing horror, Aurora's emergency responders kept their cool
After the Colorado theater mass shooting, officials praise fast and efficient work by police, firefighters and medical personnel.
By Ashley Powers and Larry Gordon, Los Angeles Times
July 22, 2012, 5:00 a.m.
AURORA, Colo. — It was 12:39 a.m. Friday when the normal rhythms of Aurora went horrifyingly awry.
The first inkling came in a dispatcher's message, spoken as if the events unfolding at the Century 16 theaters were somehow matter-of-fact.
"They are saying someone is shooting in the auditorium."
Police cars roared into the parking lot of the suburban Denver theater minutes later to find moviegoers splayed outside, sobbing and screaming for help, their arms and faces caked in blood.
And inside, officers were soon to discover, was an even more gruesome scene.
"I have seven down in Theater 9! Seven down!" an officer bellowed, according to dispatch recordings that capture the aftermath of one of the nation's deadliest mass shootings.
His estimate would prove to be low.
During a 12:05 a.m. screening of"The Dark Knight Rises,"a shooter wearing a gas mask had unleashed a torrent of gunfire into the audience and then slipped out of the theater. Twelve people were killed and 58 injured; at least seven of the people who remain hospitalized are in critical condition.
The shooting rampage thrust the Police Department, firefighters, paramedics, doctors and other medical workers into a mass casualty response. On Saturday, officials praised the work of those who had so suddenly been deluged with gunshot victims.
"If there is a silver lining," Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan told reporters, "it's that we didn't lose more lives. And it's because our first responders not only did their job, they went above and beyond."
The dispatch recordings — archived by RadioReference.com and available on the Denver Post website — and interviews with first responders depict a well-oiled team of law enforcement and medical personnel. No squabbling, no hysteria, despite the terror that confronted them.
Victims had been struck in the head, neck, chest and arms by shotgun, handgun and high-velocity rifle ammunition. Before help arrived, other moviegoers tended to them.
Eric Hunter, a radiology technician, had been watching the Batman movie in the theater next to the shooting. He and an off-duty paramedic aided two terrified teenage girls, one of whom had been shot in the face.
"Please help me!" one of the girls had begged him. "Please help me. God, he's coming back."
Even those who escaped injury were splattered with blood and muck, complicating efforts to determine who needed to be treated first. Ethan Rodriguez-Torrent, 22, had helped a female friend who was shot in the head hobble out of the theater.
"I was covered in her blood, basically," he recalled. "On my legs and some on my arms."
As paramedics raced to the scene, each dispatch update revealed more awfulness:
"There is at least one person that's been shot but they're saying there's hundreds of people just running around."
"Somebody's still shooting in Theater 9. Be advised, I think somebody's sprayed some gas over there too."
Authorities hopped out of their vehicles and fanned out across the theater complex, part of an unassuming shopping center across the street from a public library. Almost immediately, they spotted a white car outside. Standing next to it: a man in a gas mask.
Was it the suspect?
"Yes!" an officer called into his radio. "We've got rifles, gas masks, you can see him. I've got an open door going into the theater. OK, hold that position, hold your suspect!"
Police arrested a man named James E. Holmes, 24. He had a degree in neuroscience and, they later discovered, an apartment laden with explosives.
Meanwhile, officers were working their way through the carnage in Theater 9. They found 10 bodies. Two more people died at the hospital.
Other colleagues rounded up the wounded. A video posted on YouTube shows a parking lot aglow in red and blue emergency lights. The voices of the first responders are muffled under the sounds of sirens and screams.
"Help me, please! Hold it up!" a man cries out, referring to one of his limbs. "I can't hold it up no more!"
The scanner crackled with requests for aid. A woman shot in the leg. A man crumpled outside Theater 9. At one point, an officer announced what no one wanted to hear:
"I've got a child victim. We need a rescue in the back door of Theater 9 now."
Dispatchers called in ambulances from all over the Denver area, but some people were too badly injured to wait. So police began driving victims to hospitals.
Around that time, Dr. James Denton was called into the Medical Center of Aurora, one of several hospitals where victims would be treated. In the brief time it took him to drive there, 15 patients had been admitted and one was already in the operating room.
Denton sized up each victim: some in rooms, others sprawled on beds that had been hurriedly set up in the hallway. They were a bandaged and bloodied lot, and some grimaced in pain. But Denton heard few complaints.
"I think they knew other people were worse off than they were," he said.
The staff had no idea whether more victims were en route. They called in help. The medical center soon teemed with five trauma surgeons, two neurosurgeons, two orthopedic surgeons, several emergency room doctors and a host of nurses and technicians, some of them from other hospitals. Only three more patients eventually arrived.
Around 6:30, when trauma services director Tracy Lauzon rushed in, there was a brief scare. Police, she said, had been told a distraught relative of one of the victims was headed to the hospital with a gun. Officers scoured the intensive care unit. Nothing.
For the first time that day, it was a false alarm.
I think it's time to focus on other aspects of this shooting--like the fact
it could have been even worse, given how heavily armed the shooter was.
Maybe we should ask Ashley Moser if she feels your freedom is worth the price she's paying, now that her six year old daughter has been murdered and she's lying (still not aware yet that her daughter is dead) drifting in and out of consciousness with bullets lodged in her throat and chest.
Listen Oralloy - I am American. But I feel much more free here in England. I can walk the streets, go shopping and to the post office, walk alone anywhere I want all over the country without having to worry about me or one of my family members or friends being accosted or killed by someone with a gun to go along with their grudge or delusion.
Have you ever been outside the US?
You have no concept of how ridiculous these serf references are. It's truly pathetic...you guys sound like peasants in the 13th century, where people in the next village were seen as likely to harbour strange and terrifying behaviors.
Do you truly believe that people from many countries outside your parochial little orbit are not at least as free as you?
Go and get a life.
I was across the border into Canada a couple times. The lack of freedom made me very uncomfortable and I didn't stay however.
It would also be nice if you eased up on the (gun nut) name-calling.
MontereyJack wrote:The second amendment applies to militias, not everyday use, as anyone who is for original interpretation
That is how I've always interpreted the second amendment.
By what has actually been written in your constitution.
But then, I am not a citizen of the US, so I'd be interested to hear the current working interpretations of the second amendment ... & not just from the gun lobby here, please.
It seems to me that "citizens' militias" are rather an out-of-date concept, certainly not a necessity, or a serious consideration, in the 21st century.
(when was the last episode of a "citizens' militia" taking up arms against the state?)
But how can the second amendment be interpreted as the "right" of any individual to buy whatever arms they choose, for whatever purpose?
James Holmes bought these weapons legally, apparently, & used them to wipe out the lives of 12 innocent people, say nothing of the others who were wounded or traumatized by this event.
Quote:... two Glock pistols, a semi-automatic rifle and a shotgun during the last two months from guns stores, and 6000 rounds from websites. All were purchased legally.
The making of a sick Joker:
How can that possibly be justified, or allowed, even?
Yes; it 'd have been a lot worse,
if James had been a sapper, like Tim McVeigh
I think the second ammendment is outdated, unnecessary and causes much more harm than good.
A look at the lives of Colorado shooting victims
GILLIAN FLACCUS, Associated Press, KRISTEN WYATT, Associated Press
Sunday, July 22, 2012
AURORA, Colo. (AP) — A U.S. Navy veteran who served three tours of duty in the Middle East. A 6-year-old girl excited about her swimming classes. A Target employee who shielded his girlfriend and her brother with his own body. They and nine others were killed in the shooting rampage during a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" in a Denver suburb. Here are their stories:
Jonathan Blunk had high hopes for the future, with plans to re-enlist in the Navy and the goal of becoming a Navy SEAL.
The 26-year-old served three tours in the Persian Gulf and North Arabian Sea between 2004 and 2009, said close friend James Gill of Brighton, Colo.
"It was guts or glory for him," Gill told The Associated Press. "It always surprised me that he didn't serve in a situation more on the front line. He wanted to be a first responder on the front line."
Blunk was also a certified firefighter and emergency medical technician, Gill added.
He died in the shooting Friday after throwing himself in front of friend Jansen Young and saving her life, she told the NBC "Today" show. He told her to stay down.
"That's something he would do," Gill said. "If he was going to choose a way to die, that's how he wanted to go — defending someone from a (person) like that."
Blunk, a 2004 graduate of Hug High School in Reno, Nev., most recently worked at a hardware store.
His estranged wife, Chantel Blunk, lives with their 4-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son in Sparks, Nev.
Alexander J. Boik, known as AJ, recently graduated from high school and was to start classes at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in the fall, The Denver Post reported.
The family said in a statement that the 18-year-old was loved by all who knew him and was dating "a beautiful young lady" who was with him at the theater and survived. "We want to try and focus on the beautiful lives that were ended and not the evil that is responsible," the family said.
A friend, Jordan Crofter, described Boik as someone who "didn't hold anything back. He was just his own person."
"He was a ball of joy. He was never sad or depressed. He wanted everybody to be happy," Crofter told The Associated Press.
Crofter said Boik played baseball from when he was a child through his junior year in high school.
He said Boik and his girlfriend were the "perfect couple" and people expected them to get married.
"If he were still here, he'd try to make everyone have a positive outlook of the situation and not allow it to affect their outlook of life," Crofter said.
Jesse Childress was an Air Force cyber-systems operator based at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora.
Air Force Capt. Andrew Williams described the 29-year-old from Thornton, Colo., as knowledgeable, experienced and respectful. "We're going to miss him incredibly," he said.
Tech Sgt. Alejandro Sanchez, a co-worker, told the AP that Childress was his good friend and they were on a bowling team together.
"He would help anyone and always was great for our Air Force unit," he said.
Another co-worker, Ashley Wassinger, said Childress "was a great person fun to be with, always positive and laughing."
"Really just an amazing person, and I am so lucky to have been his friend," she said.
Gordon Cowden loved life and his family, and he had gone to the midnight movie premiere with his two teenage children.
At 51, he was the oldest of the victims killed in the shooting. He lived in Aurora, but was described as a "true Texas gentleman" in a family statement. He loved the outdoors and owned his own business.
"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," his family said.
His teenage children escaped the shooting unharmed.
His family declined to be interviewed in their request for privacy but expressed appreciation for words of concern offered in the wake of the shooting.
"Our hearts go out to everyone that has been harmed by this senseless tragedy," they said.
Jessica Ghawi recently wrote a blog post after surviving a shooting at a Toronto mall, saying it showed her "how fragile life was."
Friends say the 24-year-old, who moved to Colorado from Texas about a year ago, didn't let the June 2 shooting in Toronto change her outlook on life as she pursued a career in sports journalism.
"I think she even looked at that like, 'Hey, even after that, I'm able to pursue my dream,'" said Peter Burns, a radio sports show host with Mile High Sports Radio in Denver, where Ghawi recently interned.
That shooting left two dead and several injured. Her blog post last month said: "I saw the victims of a senseless crime. I saw lives change.
"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."
Former colleagues described her as ambitious and hardworking. She went by the name "Redfield," a play on her red hair, because it was easy to say and remember, both professionally and on her social media accounts.
She was a regular tweeter and her last post to the micro-blogging website stated in all capital letters, "movie doesn't start for 20 minutes."
John Larimer was a Navy sailor based at Buckley Air Force Base, where he was a cryptologic technician — a job that the Navy says on its website should be filled by someone with "exceptionally good character, above-average writing and speaking skills, a good memory, curiosity and resourcefulness."
Those who knew him described him in similar terms.
The 27-year-old and another active service member, Air Force Sgt. Jesse Childress, were killed in the shooting rampage, the military said Saturday.
Larimer, who grew up in the Chicago suburb of Crystal Lake, Ill., joined the service just over a year ago, the Navy said.
"A valued member of our Navy team, he will be missed by all who knew him. My heart goes out to John's family, friends and loved ones, as well as to all the victims of this horrible tragedy," said Cmdr. Jeffrey Jakuboski, his commanding officer, in a written statement.
A family member told the Daily Herald newspaper in Arlington Heights, Ill., that Larimer was the youngest of five siblings. Neighbors in his hometown recalled his sense of humor.
"We love you, John, and we will miss you always," his parents said in a statement.
As the attack in the movie theater unfolded, Matt McQuinn dove in front of his girlfriend and her older brother to shield them from the gunfire.
He died protecting them, said Rob Scott, an Ohio attorney retained by the families of McQuinn and his girlfriend, Samantha Yowler. Scott confirmed McQuinn's death to The Associated Press. He was 27.
"Unfortunately, Matt McQuinn perished from the injuries he sustained during the tragic events that unfolded in Denver, Colorado, and went home to be with his maker," Scott said in a statement. "As both families mourn the loss of Matt, they ask for everyone to give them distance and time. Again, the families thank everyone for their love, prayers and ask that we respect their families' wishes."
Yowler was recovering from surgery after she was shot in the knee at the theater. Her 32-year-old brother, Nick Yowler, who also shielded his sister, was not injured.
McQuinn and Yowler moved to Colorado from Ohio last fall. A Colorado co-worker told the Springfield News-Sun that McQuinn and Samantha Yowler worked with her at Target.
"They're really fun people. We always go out together," said Melissa Downen.
The death of 23-year-old Micayla Medek was heartbreaking, said her father's cousin, Anita Busch.
But Busch said the news also was a relief for the family after an agonizing day of waiting.
"I hope this evil act ... doesn't shake people's faith in God," she said.
Micayla Medek lived in the Denver suburb of Westminster, Colo., and attended Aurora Community College.
Her aunt, Jenny Zakovich, 57, of South Milwaukee, Wis., said Medek and her father were both huge Green Bay Packers fans.
The youngest of the victims killed in the attack was Veronica Moser-Sullivan.
She had just learned to swim, and at age 6, she was a "great little girl, excited about life," her great-aunt Annie Dalton said. "She should be at 6 years old."
Her mother, Ashley Moser, remains hospitalized with gunshot wounds to her neck and abdomen. She has been in and out of consciousness and asking for her daughter during moments of lucidity.
"Nobody can tell her about it," Dalton said. "She is in critical condition, but all she's asking about is her daughter."
Alex Sullivan's family called him "their real life super hero," and he was at "The Dark Knight Rises" premiere celebrating his 27th birthday and his first wedding anniversary.
"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," the family said in a statement.
Sullivan had a warm smile and an innocence that endeared him to people, said Shelly Fradkin, whose son Brian was good friends with Sullivan.
She sat next to a makeshift memorial Friday near the theater where an oversized birthday card with a photo of a smiling Sullivan was displayed.
"He's amazing. He was just a big teddy bear. Great hugs," she said.
She said Sullivan was such a big movie fan that he took jobs at theaters just to see movies.
Fradkin and her son spent an "excruciating" day trying to find Sullivan before learning of his death, she said.
"We're shocked. We're numb. We're sick," she said. "Our hearts are broken, and we're crushed."
Alexander C. Teves, 24, of Phoenix, earned a master's degree in counseling psychology in June from University of Denver.
He was a lovable person who made friends quickly and had a lot of them, said his grandfather, Carlo Iacovelli of Barnegat, N.J.
As a boy, Teves moved from New Jersey to Phoenix with his parents. Iacovelli and his wife wintered there and spent a lot of time with him.
"He was what you might call an ideal grandson," Iacovelli said. "He was a fun guy. He loved to eat."
Teves was planning to become a psychiatrist, his grandfather said.
"He had a lot to look forward to," Iacovelli said.
Rebecca Ann Wingo had started a job several months ago as a customer relations representative at a mobile medical imaging company. She was 32.
Shannon Dominguez, who worked with Wingo on weekends, said she was friendly with everyone and always seemed to be in a good mood.
"I didn't really know her well but she had a really bubbly personality," Dominguez said. "She was a pretty happy person. She just never really seemed ... like with work, she never got irritated. She was pretty happy to be here."
Associated Press writers who contributed to this report include Thomas Peipert and Ivan Moreno in Aurora; Dan Elliott and Matt Volz in Denver; Martin Griffith in Reno, Nev.; Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus, Ohio; and Michelle Price in Phoenix.
Most serious scholars, who are not polemically invested in the gun culture, see the second amendment as a guarantee of participation in the militia.
In his commentaries on the common law, Blackstone refers to people keeping and bearing arms according to their degree.
He goes on to say that the game laws effectively disarm a large portion of the population.
In two Supreme Court decisions in the latter part of the 19th century, the Court stated that the second amendment binds the Federal government, but not the states.
In 1939, in The United States versus Miller the Court observed that they had no reason to believe that a shotgun having a barrel of less than 18" length was a weapon useful for the militia. That decision referred to the National Firearms Act, which the Court upheld. So, as of 1939, the Court also recognized a right of the Federal goverment to control what types of weapons one might keep and bear. Inferentially, at least, the Court's decision in Miller refers to the constitutional authority of Congress to provide for arming the militia (Article One, Section Eight).
No direct tests of the right of the states to regulate firearms has reached the Supremes since Miller in 1939.
Just as they ignore the first clause of the second amendment, they ignore the qualifier of "in a Federal enclave" in Heller.
The District of Columbia is just such a special Federal enclave, and its government by the Congress is provided for in the Constitution. Whether or not this will lead to gun control laws being struck down remains to be seen, as it has not be used as a precedent in any cases in the Federal system since it was decided.
Almost none of that applies to the Colorado situation, though. As i've already mentioned, in Cruikshank and Presser in the 19th century, the Court held that the second amendment binds the Federal government but not the states. No decision since then has contradicted those decisions.
The gun nuts are crowing that Heller "incorporates" the second amendment, meaning that it now applies to all the states as well as the Federal government.
The claim of incorporation in Heller ought to be beneath the notice of any intelligent scholar.
However, how the Court rules in any case in which a defendant cites Heller will ultimately determine wherher or not that case incorporates the second amendment (i.e., binds the states).
It still does not address the issue of "well-regulated."
Jerry Newcombe, Evangelical Leader, Says Only Christian Victims Of Colorado Shooting Going To Heaven
An evangelical spokesperson for a religious group known as Truth In Action has claimed that the tragedy in Colorado happened because America has lost its fear of hell.
In an article published on OneNewsNow, evangelical Jerry Newcombe wrote:
I can't help but feel that to some extent, we're reaping what we've been sowing as a society. We said to God, "Get out of the public arena." Lawsuit after lawsuit, often by misguided "civil libertarians," have chased away any fear of God in the land -- at least in the hearts of millions.
Newcombe’s is not alone in reacting this way to the shooting in Aurora that claimed 12 deaths and left dozens of injuries. On the day of the shooting Rep. Gohmert of Texas also insisted that the shootings are the result of "ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian Beliefs":
"People say ... where was God in all of this? We've threatened high school graduation participations, if they use God's name, they're going to be jailed ... I mean that kind of stuff. Where was God? What have we done with God? We don't want him around. I kind of like his protective hand being present."
Perhaps more disturbing were Newcombe’s comments when on a segment on the American Family Association radio dedicated to understanding the shooting tragedy in Colorado. In taking about the deaths, Newcombe separated the afterlife fate of those who died as Christians and those who did not:
If a Christian dies early, if a Christian dies young, it seems tragic, but really it is not tragic because they are going to a wonderful place.. on the other hand, if a person doesn’t know Jesus Christ.. if they knowingly rejected Jesus Christ, then, basically, they are going to a terrible place.
Newcombe then turned the tragedy into a time for people to become Christian and avoid the similar fate of hell:
For those who are not ‘in Christ’ and see this incredible tragedy, this would be a good time for soul reflection and consider why have you not accepted Jesus Christ.. I would urge anyone who is not in Christ to repent of your sins.
Oralloy wrote:Probably the best weapon for covert manufacture would be the equivalent of a sawed-off shotgun firing buckshot. The requirements for tight mechanical tolerances would not be as great
If I remember my WW2 history correctly the British design a simple to produce sub-machine gun and send it plans to the people living under the Nazis and thousands was manufacture under the nose of the SS.
Those plans I am sure still exist and what can be done in France under the nose of the SS in the 1940s surely can be done with modern machine shop tools by any amount needed under the nose of the ATF in the 2010s.
Jesus ******* Christ! You Firefly sure are hostile toward Christians. WTF did they ever do to you?
Quote:Jesus ******* Christ! You Firefly sure are hostile toward Christians. WTF did they ever do to you?
I'm not at all hostile to Christians. Nor do I consider that Evangelical minister's remarks representative of all Christians--do you?
I'm not at all hostile to Christians. Nor do I consider that Evangelical minister's remarks representative of all Christians--do you?