AURORA, Colo. — Stories of heroism, zest for life and a birthday celebration that turned tragic emerged as family and friends shared information on loved ones killed in Friday’s mass shooting at an Aurora movie theater.
Almost all of the 12 victims were young, with so much life ahead of them.
A Facebook page was created in memory of Boik, a Gateway High School student who was at the theater with his girlfriend and a friend.
“AJ was an awesome kid and a truly Inspirational teammate,” one individual wrote on the page. “You cant find someone with a brighter smile and more positive outlook on life. There to help you up when your down and One to carry on life with such an intelligence.” (sic)
Boik was an independent distributor for Organo Gold, a coffee company, and lived in Aurora, according to what appears to be his personal Facebook page.
James Crofter, father of Jordan Crofter, Boik’s friend who survived the shooting, said Jordan and Boik played lacrosse together. Boik’s girlfriend also was in the theater. She and Jordan found each other outside the theater, but Boik did not make it out.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Jesse Childress, 29
Childress, an Air Force reservist, was a cybersystems operator on active duty with the 310th Force Support Squadron at Buckley Air Force Base in Colorado. He was from Thornton, Colorado.
Jessica Ghawi, 24
Aspiring sports reporter Ghawi narrowly avoided another shooting incident in Toronto just last month — an incident that prompted her to reflect on life on her blog.
The Toronto shooting at the Eaton Centre left one person dead and seven injured.
“I was shown how fragile life was on Saturday. I saw the terror on bystanders’ faces. I saw the victims of a senseless crime. I saw lives change,” she wrote at the time. “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.”
Ghawi, who also went by the name Jessica Redfield, grew up in Texas and interned at Ticket 760, a sports radio station in San Antonio, before moving to Denver to try to break into the television market there. She was a sports intern at FOX31 Denver.
“I’ll never have her to hug again, or get a text message again or get a funny Facebook picture, that’s the hard part right now. Just knowing those are thing I’m never going to get to experience again,” said Jessica’s mother, Sandy Phillips. “I was blessed. Only for 25-years, but I was blessed.”
A memorial service is scheduled for July 28 in San Antonio.
Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class John Thomas Larimer, 27
Like his father and grandfather, Larimer chose to join the Navy. He was serving at his first post, said his father, Scott Larimer.
A Navy notification team officially informed the family in Crystal Lake, Illinois, around midnight Saturday, a statement from the family said.
“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. “A valued member of our Navy team, he will be missed by all who knew him. My heart goes out to John’s family, friends and loved ones, as well as to all victims of this horrible tragedy.”
His unit, part of U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet, was stationed at Buckley Air Force Base in Colorado. Larimer had been in the service about one year. He had not seen combat.
“We send our thoughts and prayers out to the families of the other victims and those still recovering in the hospital,” his family said. “We love you, John, and we will miss you always.”
Matt McQuinn, 27
Matt McQuinn and Samantha Yowler
McQuinn died trying to provide cover for his girlfriend, Samantha Yowler, during the shooting at the movie theater, according to family attorney Robert. L. Scott.
Yowler and her brother Nick, who also was trying to protect her from the bullets, both survived.
McQuinn and Samantha Yowler grew up in the Miami Valley region of Ohio, according to CNN affiliate WKEF. The two had been dating for a couple of years.
McQuinn graduated from Vandalia-Butler High School in 2004. The couple met at a Springfield, Ohio, Target store and moved to Denver last November, the Dayton Daily News reported.
Micayla Medek, 23
Medek, known as Cayla to her friends, was “very spiritual and close to God,” second-cousin Anita Busch told CNN. Her family is tight-knit, Busch said.
Medek’s Facebook page describes her as a “sandwich artist/closer” at Subway in Aurora, and a student of general studies at the Community College of Aurora with plans to graduate in 2015.
She lived in Westminster, Colorado, but was from Aurora, Busch said. “I’m a simple independent girl who’s just trying to get her life together while still having fun,” Medek wrote on her Facebook page.
Busch said the family did not learn of Medek’s death for 19 hours. “We had been desperately trying to find her,” she said.
Alex Sullivan, 27
Alex Sullivan went to the movie to celebrate his birthday, two days before the first anniversary of his marriage to his wife, Cassie.
“Oh man one hour till the movie and its going to be the best BIRTHDAY ever,” he tweeted.
“The Sullivan family lost a cherished member of their family,” a representative for the family said in a prepared statement. “Alex was smart, funny, and above all loved dearly by his friends and family.”
His uncle, Jim Loewenguth, said Sullivan was an employee at the theater, but was off that night. Sullivan was “full of joy” and “never had a bad chip on his shoulder,” he said.
Alex Teves, 24
A native of Phoenix, Arizona, Teves was a recent graduate of the University of Denver.
“He was a wonderful nephew,” said paternal aunt Barbara Slivinske of New Jersey. The victim’s parents traveled to Aurora after the incident.
Teves has two brothers, ages 16 and 17.
He graduated in June with an master’s degree in counseling psychology within the Morgridge College of Education.
“Our deepest condolences are with Alex’s family and friends, including the many current students and faculty who knew and worked with Alex,” the university said on its Facebook page.
Rebecca Wingo, 32
Wingo’s father wrote an emotional Facebook post about the loss of his daughter, originally from Quinlan, Texas.
“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. Lord why, why, why????,” Steve Hernandez wrote.
“I sit here and resist this entry however I feel I must , in disgust, in dismay , in prayer, I love you my daughter Rebecca, we all will miss you.”
A photo on Wingo’s Facebook showed three young children.
Veronica Moser, 6
Veronica Moser Sullivan
Just 6-years-old, Veronica died on the operating table. Veronica’s mother, Ashley, is in critical condition with a bullet in the throat and another one in the stomach.
FOX31 Denver spoke with their cousin, Katherine Young, who said Ashley’s father died just two months ago because of cancer.
“It just feels like, oh, my gosh, part of our family has been wiped out. It’s just crazy.”
Gordon Cowden, 51, and Jonathan Blunk, 26, were also killed in Friday’s shooting spree. Photos of Cowden and Blunk were not immediately available.
Credit: Jeremy Hubbard and Richard J. Ortner, KDVR. CNN’s Nick Valencia, Barbara Starr, Carma Hassan, Holly Yan, David Ariosto, Phil Gast, Greg Morrison, Dave Alsup, Allison Rampley and Audrey Irvine contributed to this report.