After a vigil at the Aurora Municipal Center, gathers keep candles lit at the memorial for the victims of the Century 16 Theater shooting at the corner of E. Centerpoint Dr. and S. Sable Blvd. in Aurora, CO on July 22. Photo by Brian T. McGinn . email@example.com
Thousands gathered at the Aurora Municipal Center on Sunday evening for a vigil to remember the victims of Friday’s shooting. Amidst song, prayer, and tears, the community grieved for the 12 people killed at the Century 16 Theater just across the street from where the vigil was held. As Gov. John Hickenlooper read the names of the victims, the crowd responded in unison, “We will remember.”
Colo. Governor Hickenlooper addressed the crowd gathered to honor the victims of the Century 16 Theater shooting. Photo by Melanie J. Rice . firstname.lastname@example.org
Hickenlooper, who has visited all seven of the hospitals where the surviving victims are being treated, offered words of comfort to the family members and friends that filled the audience.
“It was like somehow God had come down and picked some of the most vibrant and alive people and taken them from us,” he said. “July 20 should never be about remembering this event or the killer. It should be about remembering those victims.”
Alex Sullivan, one of the 12, was remembered by a large group of family and friends wearing black ribbons bearing his nickname, “Sully.”
Ashlee Broadus, one of Sullivan’s coworkers at the Aurora Movie Tavern, said that her favorite memory was when he told her his nickname came from the children’s movie “Monster’s Inc.”
“I always look back at that, and I just can’t help but smile,” said Broadus, who worked with Sullivan for two years. “[The hardest part] I think, is just hearing everybody’s stories that they have of Alex. Times that they had, and all of us sharing them, and just realizing, that won’t happen again with him.”
Only two days after the shooting, the Aurora community has already held several vigils to show support and reach out to the victims’ loved ones.
“The pain is still raw, and the healing has yet to begin, but know that the citizens of Aurora, the citizens of this metropolitan area and the citizens of this state will do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to help you,” said Aurora mayor Steve Hogan. “That is what families do, and we are a family.”
After community officials addressed the crowd, the vigil was filled with prayers from area religious leaders, including Pastor Robin Holland of Living Hope Baptist Church. Holland prayed for solace for the victims’ families, but also for a hopeful future.
“The truth of the matter is, Lord, our city is hurting,” Holland said, “But one day, we know that our city will march back into that theater and we’ll claim [it] back. Because it doesn’t belong to terrorists, it belongs to the city.”
For Jason Garcia, who was in Theater 8 during the shooting, returning to see “The Dark Knight Rises” is an important step.
“I do need to see the movie. I think it’s going to be a symbolistic closure,” he said.
Garcia was at the midnight premiere with his brother and cousin to celebrate his 30th birthday. He said that several other people in the theater were also there for birthdays that night.
“I hope people still do it,” he said. “We can’t stop living our lives because of this. I’m going to continue going to midnight movies. I love them.”