6-year-old girl among dead in shooting spree at Colorado theater

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The Aurora community gathered together on Friday (July 20) in a candlelight vigil to mourn the dozen people killed and scores of others wounded when a heavily armed gunman opened fire at a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises."

They included a 6-year-old who just learned to swim, an Ohio native who saved his girlfriend's life, an US Air Force staff sergeant, a sailor and an aspiring sports journalist.

More details emerged yesterday about the 12 people who died after police say James Eagan Holmes, 24, opened fire at a midnight premiere in Aurora, Colorado, of "The Dark Knight Rises."

Fifty-eight were injured in the attack near Denver. The Arapahoe County Coroner released a full list of the victims and ages at 4:30 p.m. local time yesterday. The cause of death in all cases is related to gunshot wounds, the Coroner's office said.

Annie Dalton confirmed that her great niece, Veronica Moser-Sullivan, died at the Aurora Town Center, where all four showings of the third in the Batman trilogy were sold out.

"She was a wonderful 6-year-old girl -- proud that she learned how to swim this summer," Dalton said in a telephone interview. "She loved to go to school, loved her grandpa who just passed away recently -- that was hard for her."

Veronica's mother, Ashley Moser, 25, is in critical condition with bullets in the throat and abdomen, said Dalton, who is Ashley's aunt.

Protecting girlfriend

One victim, Matthew McQuinn, 27, died after shielding his girlfriend, Samantha Yowler, from the gunfire, said Rob Scott, an attorney speaking for the two families.

McQuinn, a native of Springfield, Ohio, near Dayton, had moved to Denver in September with Yowler, 27, of St. Paris, Ohio, and both worked at a Target store, Scott said in a telephone interview from Dayton. They were at the theater with Samantha's brother, Nick, who had moved to Colorado from Ohio eight years ago, Scott said.

McQuinn was shot in the chest, leg and back, Scott said. Samantha Yowler was shot in the leg and is recovering from surgery, and her brother wasn't hurt, he said.

The two families issued a statement through Scott thanking well-wishers for their thoughts, prayers and concerns and asking for privacy.

"As both families mourn the loss of Matt, they ask for everyone to give them distance and time," the statement said.

Relatives recalled McQuinn as kind and quiet, Scott said. McQuinn and Yowler had been dating for three years, and the Yowlers thought of McQuinn as part of their family, he said.

"˜A hero'

"Samantha and her family consider Matt a hero for protecting her," Scott said.

Chris Jackson, who identified himself as McQuinn's brother, wrote on Facebook: "Thank you to all who showed concern and prayed for my brother and Sam. Sadly it was confirmed that he was still in the theater. He covered Sam with his body and died a hero."

Petty Officer Third Class John T. Larimer, 27, died from his injuries, the U.S. Navy said. Larimer, who was from Crystal Lake, Illinois, was a cryptologic technician who joined on June 16, 2011, the Navy said.

Three Navy officers left the home of the Larimer family, a white frame structure with an American flag flying from an attached garage, about 12:20 p.m. local time. They didn't comment to reporters gathered outside the suburban northeast Chicago home where Larimer grew up.

A neighbor, Chris Gates, said he recalls John Larimer giving his daughter "a big tip when she set up a lemonade stand."

"˜Nice kid'

"He just seemed like a really nice kid," said Gates, a speech therapist. "Here he was in the military, putting his life on the line for his country, and he died during something that shouldn't have happened. The way he died is not fair to him and not fair to our country."

Navy Commander Jeffrey Jakuboski called Larimer an "extremely dedicated sailor" who had a "charismatic, calming personality." "He truly did have a bright future in the Navy," Jakuboski said at a press conference yesterday at Buckley Air Force Base.

Larimer was one of five sailors who went to the Aurora cinema on July 20. Four of the sailors, including Larimer, attended the Batman showing in Theater 9, where the shooting occurred. The fifth sailor was in an adjacent theater, Jakuboski said. Three of the five sailors were uninjured. A fourth was treated and released on site, Jakuboski said.

"We all take this personally," he said of the shooting. "I've got a command of 300. Losing a sailor, whether it's in combat or a situation like this, it's hard. We're not bullet- proof. I feel like I'm losing one of my sons."

Final tweet

Alex M. Sullivan, 27, who tweeted "oh man one hour till the movie and it's going to be the best BIRTHDAY ever" before the movie began, was among the dead.

Tom Sullivan, his father, came to Gateway High School July 20, where moviegoers were taken to talk with police after the shooting, holding a picture of Alex.

"Find my son," he yelled from the parking lot at the high school.

Aspiring sports journalist Jessica Ghawi, 24, who was among the dead, had survived a shooting in the food court at the Toronto, Canada, Eaton Centre on June 2. She wrote a blog post about her premonition that she should have left the area of that shooting quickly.

Felt funny

"My receipt shows my purchase was made at 6:20 p.m. After that purchase I said I felt funny," Ghawi wrote on her blog "A Run On of Thoughts," on June 5. "A feeling that was overwhelming enough to lead me to head outside in the rain to get fresh air instead of continuing back into the food court to go shopping at SportChek. The gunshots rang out at 6:23. Had I not gone outside, I would've been in the midst of gunfire."

Also among the dead were Air Force Staff Sergeant Jesse E. Childress, 29, who was assigned to Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, said Lieutenant Colonel Jack Miller, a Pentagon spokesman.

"Jesse was an amazing guy," said Captain Andrew Williams, the operations officer for the support squadron in which Childress served. "He was the kind of guy you want on your team."

Williams said at a press conference at the base yesterday that Childress was well-known throughout the air wing at Buckley, where he specialized in the collection and processing of communications signals.

Enjoyed sports

Childress, who was often on the road to upgrade communications equipment, enjoyed sports and played in kickball and volleyball tournaments, Williams said.

Micayla Medek, 23, who attended the Community College of Aurora and worked at Subway, according to her Facebook page, was also slain.

The coroner's list also included Alexander J. Boik, 18, Jonathan T. Blunk, 26, and Gordon Cowden, 51. More than 30 members of Boik's family gathered at his grandparents' home in Aurora last night as hundreds participated in a vigil at his former high school to remember the artistic young man who had just graduated from high school and planned to attend the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in the fall to be an art teacher.

"He was a great kid," Boik's uncle John Hoover of Lakewood said in a telephone interview from the Aurora home, adding that his nephew had a wide range of interests, from baseball to pottery to playing viola in the school orchestra. "At 18 years old he had his own style. He was a wonderful, wonderful, person."

Navy veteran

Blunk, formerly of Sparks, Nevada, was a Navy veteran and a "hero," Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval said in a statement Saturday.

Blunk was struck by gunfire while attempting to protect his girlfriend, Jansen Young, in the theater, Young told NBC's TODAY show. "Jon just took a bullet for me," Young said on the program.

Cowden was a good neighbor who spent a lot of time with his teenage children, said neighbor Laura Bay. She said she would often see the divorced father, who worked as a real estate appraiser, taking walks with his daughters and their dog.

"He was always that neighbor that would wave 'hi' or say 'how are you doing?'," said Bay, 26, who lives next to the family on Blackhawk Way in Aurora. "He was a good guy."

"˜Deepest condolences'

Deceased victim Alexander Teves, 24, of Phoenix graduated in June with a master's degree in Counseling Psychology with the Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver.

"The University extends its deepest condolences to his family and friends, including the many current students and faculty who knew and worked with Alex," said the statement on the school's web site.

Friends and family remembered Aurora resident Rebecca Wingo, a 32-year-old mother of two, on Facebook.

A Facebook post from Marq Edward Shafer read, "We just found out that our good friend and wonderful mother to two beautiful girls, Rebecca Wingo, has passed away after she was shot in the Aurora Movie Theatre Massacre. We love you and miss you already."

Steve Hernandez, who identified himself as Wingo's father, wrote on his Facebook page yesterday, "My grief right now is inconsolable, I hear she died instantly, without pain, however the pain is unbearable."

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