On July 20, about 20 minutes into a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" suspected shooter James Holmes allegedly opened fire on an unsuspecting Aurora movie theater audience, killing 12 people and injuring 58 more. Now, a month later, some survivors are still fighting for their lives and many continue to struggle with the memories of what happened that Friday night.
Marcus Weaver, a 41-year-old man who was shot twice in the shoulder is recovering from his physical wounds, but told USA Today that he is haunted by nightmares of the shooting. "Every day, early in the morning or at night, I have a movie in my head of what happened. I wake up every night with nightmares. I don't think it will ever go away."
Weaver still mourns the loss of his friend 32-year-old Rebecca Ann Wingo, one of the 12 shooting victims whose gunshot wounds were fatal. He told 7News that he struggles with getting his life back to normal and move on with his life, "I think the hardest is trying to get back to where I was before it happened. Each day has its own things, not so much physically anymore, but mentally. I think that Rebecca and all the people that passed away and some of the survivors would want us to move forward."
Nickelas Gallup, a 31-year-old manager of a restaurant near the Century 16 theater where the shooting took place, echoed the sentiments of Weaver. He told USA Today that he has reoccurring headaches and flashbacks from the night of the shooting and is so traumatized that he had to give up his job near the theater. "It's just too close to the theater," Gallup told USA Today. "I'd relive it over and over. It was just too much. I'll never forget the (rifle) barrel swinging up. And the green laser sight on that Glock. He was targeting people as they tried to run. He targeted people in their seats."
Weaver and Gallup are just two of the victims who were inside the movie theater on the night of the devastating shooting, victims who range from 51-year-old Gordon Cowden, the oldest of the 12 people killed, to 4-month old Ethan Rohrs, a survivor whose father Jamie Rohrs proposed to Ethan's mother Patricia Legarreta at the hospital after the shooting.
Cowden, whose teenage children escaped the massacre, was laid to rest by his family in July.
Other victims like 22-year-old Farrah Soudani have undergone multiple surgeries to patch up their wounded bodies. Soudani's abdomen and leg were terribly wounded by shrapnel inside the theater, her pancreas and left lung were damaged, three ribs were broken and she ended up needing five surgeries where doctors eventually had to remove her spleen and one of her kidneys.
Soudani is one of the many victims whose life depended on receiving much medical care, but is also uninsured and now faces an uncertain future with the potential of a lifetime of medical expenses as a result of the shooting.
Caleb Medley, a burgeoning stand-up comic and another uninsured victim, was shot in the eye and remains in critical but stable condition in a medically induced coma. His wife Katie gave birth to their son Hugo in the same hospital where Caleb is being treated. An update from the "Support Caleb" Facebook page was posted Sunday:
Caleb had the trach and feeding tube placed on monday as scheduled. He has been breathing on his own most of the time for the last 5 days. They are currently weening him off the sedatives to try to wake him up. It all depends on how he reacts to the lack of drugs they have been giving him since he has been in the ICU. So there is not a set date for when he will wake up. But as soon as he does, it will be posted!
No other news to report at this time. Katie had a good birthday on the 16th, and Hugo is still going strong!
Medley's family has been told that his medical bills could cost up to $2 million if he fully recovers, CBS News reported in July.
Mother Ashley Moser, who was wounded critically in the shooting and remains paralyzed from the waist down after her spine was severed and who suffered a miscarriage as a result of the trauma, also mourns the death of her 6-year-old daughter Veronica -- the youngest person killed in the attack.
According to the Aurora Sentinel, besides Medley, only one other victim of the shooting remains hospitalized. Tracy Weise, a spokesperson for Medical Center of Aurora where the victim is receiving care, declined to give the survivor's name but did say that the person was in serious condition.
Across the Aurora school district, hundreds of students and faculty are directly connected to this tragedy and Aurora Public Schools has put a plan in place to help with the healing. 7News reports that nearly 150 people inside the Century 16 movie theater on July 20 -- whether in theater 9 where the shooting took place or adjacent theaters within the Century 16 complex -- were connected to Aurora Public Schools (APS) and many specifically connected to Gateway High School.
District officials are estimating that around 50 students from Gateway High School were in theaters 8 or 9 on the night of the shootings -- one recent graduate from Gateway, Alexander "AJ" Boik, was one of the victims who was killed.
"We'll have a whole range of reactions based on students ability to cope with tragedy so we're prepared to offer assistance to all our students and our staff as well," Bill Hedges, Gateway High School Principal said to CBS4.
"We will come out stronger in the end," Superintendent John Barry of Aurora Public Schools told The Denver Post.
Some survivors are just trying to make sense of the shooting in their lives, victims like Jarrell Brooks who told 9News, "[You're] at the center of something that happened and you're trying to make it into a good thing when everyone looks at it like a tragedy. So, I'm trying to just build myself up as more of a man than someone just straight out of high school."
"Whether it takes a week or, I don't know, twenty years, as long as we have each other and we have our families and our friends and as long as people are understanding of that, I think we should be okay," shooting survivor Brandon Axelrod told 9News in a video tribute to the one month anniversary of the tragedy. Watch 9News' entire touching tribute to the victims here.
If you're interested in helping victims of the Aurora shooting and their families, there are several aid organizations that are accepting donations, read about those here.
Photos from the devastating Aurora theater shooting:
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