There is a victim lying in an Aurora, Colorado hospital who tells a harrowing story of courage that melts my heart and all the barriers that tend to wall up around it. He's a young man...probably in his twenties, who was sitting in that movie theater Friday night/morning, with his best buddy. His story goes something like this:
He was excited for the film. He'd been waiting...a great Batman fan. His best friend sat next to him. Suddenly a canister flies over their heads and he said he knew exactly what it is. Next he heard "pop, pop, pop" as a man dressed in camo and lots of protective gear pulled out an assault weapon and opened fire. He said to his friend "We have to get down", so they tried to slip out of their seats and lay on the floor, but this caught the gunman's attention. The gunman left the front of the theater, where he'd already shot many people, and came to them, shooting this young man in the leg. He said to his friend, "I think I've been shot". But instead of making a scene, crying or screaming, he began to pray. The gunman looked at him and shot him again, this time in the arm, fracturing his humerus. The man continued to pray.
Not knowing if his friend had been shot or not the two of them lay still until the gunman moved on. He said eventually the gunman left the theater, so he took that opportunity to speak again to his friend....who had been shot by this time...not fatally. They decided to try and leave the theater.
To stand up, he said, was torture, but he forced himself. He finally made it out of the theater only to collapse, falling face first onto the floor. The gunman returned and stood less than six inches from his feet and opened fire again. The young man said he thought his time on earth was finished at this point, but the gunman didn't shoot him again.
He was asked by the news media how he dealt with this. He openly professed his belief in God. He spoke of a darkness that infiltrates this life, but the light that is greater. He spoke of prayer...how he NEVER stopped praying.
In the darkness of it all, the message has been clear. What was meant for evil, albeit horrific, will bring us as Coloradoans even closer. A psychiatrist who specializes in these types of "characters" calls them perverts because what they do is so perverse. No remorse. Their anger, disappointments, and failures are turned into something so horrendous that the only way they see to have notoriety is through the outlandish and perverse punishment of innocent people, in this case, 70 plus people who just wanted to watch a movie.
This man, whose name I refuse to repeat, is sitting in solitary in a jail in Denver, uncooperative, spitting on the police and guards, undoubtedly enjoying his newfound fame. He achieved what he wanted. The world, if only for a little while, revolves around him.
Many of us are choosing not to use the shooter's name, not giving him the pleasure of hearing his name again and again and again, which is what he wants...what he lives for. Instead we want to get the names of the gunned down out there...to honor them, their families. The shooter deserves his punishment; the victims deserve their justice and to be remembered in death as they were in life.
One thing troubles me more than anything else. As a parent, we love our children and this shooter is someone's child. Please pray for his parents out in San Diego. Life, as they know it, will never be the same. Not to trivialize what has happened here, but his parents are victims of a sort as well. They will forever be known as the parents of a mass murderer.