Names of James Holmes' alleged shooting victims emerge

11:55 PM, Jul 21, 2012   |    comments
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Video: Victims names emerge in Colorado shooting

Jessica Redfield (photo courtesy SB Nation)

 


 


AURORA - A 6-year-old girl excited about starting swimming lessons. Veronica Moser.

A televisions sports reporter called "a rising star" by her colleagues. Jessica Ghawi.

A cheery newlywed celebrating his 27th birthday. Alex Sullivan.

Their deaths, and nine others at the hand of a methodical killer ripping gunfire through a crowded theater, rocked their loved ones and shocked the nation as Aurora authorities Saturday released the full list of names of those killed at the midnight showing of Dark Knight Rises.

Here is a closer look at these lives cut short, drawn from reports by USA TODAY; KUSA-TV, Denver; the Associated Press; and other news agencies.

Alex Sullivan, 27

Before heading for the theater, Sullivan tweeted that this would be "the best birthday ever." The next big date on his calendar would be Sunday, his first wedding anniversary.

Saturday, his widow, Cassie, was too distraught to speak after a long night of the family searching, hoping to find him alive in a hospital.

A man who identified himself only as Cassie's cousin said Alex Sullivan had recently given the cousin's daughter a Batgirl T-shirt.

Marianne Laborde, 26, who lived across the alley from the Sullivan's row house, called him "the biggest softie ever."

Laborde met him the day she and her husband moved in. The newcomers were struggling unsuccessfully with a refrigerator when a broad-shouldered, 6-foot-4 stranger appeared "in the blink if an eye," she says. "He didn't say anything, he just took care of the refrigerator all by himself."

It was the beginning of a lasting friendship, Laborde says. She watched her neighbors' dog when they got married, and the couples enjoyed barbecues together.

Holding back tears, Laborde said she still hadn't processed what happened. "I've been thinking about him a lot; I just haven't formed what to say."

Joe Loewenguth, Sullivan's uncle, called his nephew "a very, very good young man. He always had a smile, always made you laugh. He had a little bit of comic in him. Witty, smart. He was loving, had a big heart."

Micayla Medek, 23

Medek called herself on her Facebook page "a simple independent girl who's just trying to get her life together while still having fun."

According to the New York Daily News, she was student at Community College of Aurora and worked at a Subway store.

Saturday, the street where she lived was blocked by a semicircle of large SUVs and pickup trucks. One man, a friend of the family who declined to give his name, stood in front, turning reporters away.

The man struggled to maintain his composure as he said his daughters and the girls in Medek's family had grown up playing together.

Moments later, friends of the family stopped by, hugged and made small talk in the street.

On Friday, Anita Busch, Medek's father's cousin, said the family had waited in agony for news. Now, they were heartbroken. Yet, Busch said, "I hope this evil act ... doesn't shake people's faith in God."

Jessica Ghawi, 24

A rising sportscaster and enthusiastic blogger, Ghawi narrowly missed a shooting scene where two died at the Eaton Center Mall in Toronto earlier this summer. Ghawi blogged about how the experience made her freshly aware of the fragility of life.

"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," she wrote.

Her death at the theater has left the family in "complete and utter shock," her brother, Jordan Ghawi, told KUSA.

According to the Daily News, her boyfriend, minor league hockey player Jay Meloff, posted on Twitter: "Never wanted to fall asleep because it meant missing time with you."

And broadcast colleagues say they lost a future star.

"She was the person we strived to be," said Mike Lavender on MSNBC on Saturday. When he worked with her at the NCAA women's basketball Final Four in Denver this year, he found her to be "sweet and amazing, smart. And never once did I ever see her put her head in the sand or get depressed about anything. ... She was on her way. We were about to be wowed by a light in the sports media world," Lavender said.

Peter Burns, a radio sports show host with Mile High Sports Radio in Denver, where Ghawi recently interned, said, "She was always kind of a sponge as far as how she could be an even better journalist and sports broadcaster."

Ghawi moved to Denver from Texas about a year ago and friends and colleagues described her as outgoing, smart and witty.

Former colleague Mike Taylor, a sports host at KTKR-AM in San Antonio, described how she reluctantly changed her name for her career, taking the name "Redfield" as a play on her red hair because it was easier to say than her given name.

Her last, happy tweet, in all capital letters: "THE MOVIE DOESN'T START FOR 20 MINUTES."

Navy Petty Officer John Larimer, 27

Four sailors from the U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. Tenth Fleet at Buckley Air Force Base went to the Dark Night Rises. One, Larimer, never came home. A Navy notification team told his family at the next midnight that he never would.

"I am incredibly saddened by the loss of Petty Officer John Larimer - he was an outstanding shipmate," said Cmdr. Jeffrey Jakuboski, Larimer's commanding officer, according to the New York Daily News. "A valued member of our Navy team, he will be missed by all who knew him."

At Crystal Lake South High School in a suburb of Chicago, where Larimer graduated in 2003, English teacher and theater director Ben Stoner told the Daily Herald, "He was a unique individual with a really strong idea of right and wrong."

Rebecca Wingo, 32

Wingo was a mother of two and a Community College of Aurora student pursuing an associate in arts degree, according to the Denver Post.

When the gunman burst in to the theater, throwing gas canisters and then opening fire, Marcus Weaver, sitting in the fifth row, fell to the floor, shielding two women, including his friend Wingo. Only two survived.

Weaver told TV station WGNT they endured "round after round. It was insane. People screaming, bullets flying. I pulled her out but she was unconscious. I was shot in the arm and have fragments in my shoulder. I'm thankful to be alive. Please pray for Rebecca Wingo and all the wounded. I can't believe this."

Her Facebook page says she is originally from Quinlan, Texas, and graduated from W.H. Ford High School in 1997. She also served in the Air Force.

The Denver paper said Wingo's father, Steve Hernandez, posted to Facebook:

"I lost my daughter yesterday to a mad man. My grief right now is inconsolable, I hear she died instantly, without pain, however the pain is unbearable. ... Rest in peace my baby!"

Matthew McQuinn, 27

When the shooting began in the movie theater, Matthew McQuinn hurled himself over his girlfriend, Samantha Yowler. She lived, shot in the leg, Yowler's grandmother Elsie Windle told the Dayton Daily News. He did not.

McQuinn graduated from Vandalia-Butler High School in Springfield, Ill., in 2004, where he participated in the Occupational World Experience program. "I learned how to hold a job," he wrote in his 2004 senior yearbook.

He met Yowler when they both worked at the Springfield Target store.

McQuinn and Yowler transferred to work at a Denver Target last November. They were at the midnight movie with her brother, Nick Yowler. It was Nick who called their mother, Ann Massie, at 3:30 a.m. to tell his family about the shooting.

Veronica Moser-Sullivan, 6

Ashley Moser, who was hospitalized in critical condition with bullets in her abdomen and her throat, could only say one thing Saturday: Where was her little girl?

Ashley's aunt, Annie Dalton, told the Associated Press no one could bear to tell her that Veronica was dead.

This was a little girl, as "excited about life as she could be," said the mournful Dalton. The plan for the little girl's summer: Swimming lessons set to start on Tuesday.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Jesse Childress, 29

An Air Force statement released Saturday said reservist Childress, from Thornton, Colo., was a cybersystems operator on active duty orders with the 310th Forces Support Squadron, Buckley Air Force Base.

Alexander Boik, 17

Boik was at the movies with his girlfriend, Lasamoa Cross, when he was killed. His family posted a tribute online:

AJ Boik was a wonderful, handsome and loving eighteen year old young man with a warm and loving heart. He graduated from Gateway High School this year, where he had many friends.

He enjoyed his friends and family and always brought a smile and quick wit to every occasion. He was a talented young man who enjoyed baseball, making pottery and music. He was accepted at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design where he planned on attending classes in the fall. After completing college his dream was to become an art teacher and open his own studio. He was dating a beautiful young lady who was with him at the time and we are blessed that she survived this incident.

We want to try and focus on the beautiful lives that were ended and not the evil that is responsible. This is a time for us to remember our loved ones and cherish the memories we have of them.

Boik's page filled rapidly with memorials from friends to his sweetness and humor. The teenager listed his favorite activities, beyond baseball, as lacrosse, skateboarding, break dancing and partying.

His summer job was working as a distributor for OrganoGold, an organic coffee company.

Alexander Teves, 24

According to the New YorkDaily News, he recently graduated from the University of Denver and was planning to start graduate school for physical therapy. His aunt, Barbara Slivinske, told the newspaper, "He was a wonderful person. He didn't have a mean bone in his body. He was loved by everyone. He was a lot of fun, he had a great sense of humor, and he was very intelligent. He loved everybody and everybody loved him."

And woman named Caitlin, who wrote on Twitter: "Alex Teves was one of the best men I ever knew. The world isn't as good a place without him/ Alex Teves was an Arizona basketball fan, loved Spider-Man, was an amazing therapist, and died a hero. ... He could make us all laugh with his Gollum impression. I'll never forget that."

Jonathan Blunk, 26

Jansen Young told the Today Show she survived the shooting after her boyfriend, Jonathan T. Blunk, a Navy veteran and father of two, shielded her from the bullets by lying on top of her.

"Jon just took a bullet for me," she said.

Blunk always wanted to be a hero, his estranged wife, Chantel Blunk, of Reno, Nev., told NBC News.

"He always talked about if he were going to die, he wanted to die a hero," Chantel Blunk said.

The couple had met at Reno's Procter Hug High School in 2004 before he enlisted in the Navy, serving out of San Diego aboard the USS Nimitz. They were married in 2007 and their children are a girl, 4, and a boy, 2.

He left the service in 2009 and after separating from his wife moved to Colorado, where he worked at a hardware store.

Gordon Cowdon, 51

Neighbors recalled Gordon Cowdon, 51, and the oldest person to be killed in the shooting, as a divorced single dad who loved to spend time with his children.

"He was a family guy, always with his kids, always walking around the neighborhood," said Ismael Botello, 26, who lives next door.

Botello said Cowdon would walk with his daughter, who'd walk barefoot, and he'd always wave or shout a greeting.

Cowdon's three daughters and one son are in their late teens and early twenties. He hired a tutor to home school the girls and his son was studying at the Merchant Marine Academy in New York, said another neighbor, Mike Paszel, 61.

Paszel said Cowdon, a property appraiser, worked mostly from his home office. He worked long hours, but he also had time to ski in the Rockies nearby, to bird hunt in Brazil, and to play an occasional game of touch football with the kids, Paszel said.

Cowdon was not very mechanically inclined, so Paszel would help him with odd jobs, such as fixing the fence and installing a new dishwasher, Paszel said. Now, looking at the empty driveway next door, he feels the loss.

Cowdon's sister and children moved all the vehicles Saturday, he said.

"It's surreal," he said. "Everything is gone. Him, the girls, the cars. All gone."

Contributing: Gregg Zoroya, Gary Strauss and John McAuliff

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