Aurora Theater Shooting

Aurora theater shooting: President Obama shares Allie Young's amazing survivor's story

At this writing, thousands have gathered in Aurora for a prayer vigil following the shooting at the Century 16 during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises. Also taking part in the gathering is President Barack Obama, who earlier met with family members of victims -- among them Jordan Ghawi, brother of Jessica Ghawi, a budding sportscaster whose life was cut short.

Here are two tweets Jordan posted a short time ago:

In his remarks, made in a corridor at the University of Colorado hospital where many of the victims were and are being treated, Obama, flanked by Governor John Hickenlooper and senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, began by thanking state, local and federal officials who responded to the tragedy. He noted that Hickenlooper has already been dealing with a range of natural disasters (a reference to wildfires such as those that devastated areas in and around Colorado Springs and Fort Collins), and that Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan, also present, had only been on the job seven months. Additionally, he stated that Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates "has done everything right, by the book, with great courage and great determination."

Then, Obama moved into the body of his speech.

"Scripture says that He will wipe away every tear from their eyes and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away," he began. "And when you have the opportunity to visit with families who have lost their loved ones.... As I described to them, I come to them not so much as President as a husband and a father. That's the reason stories like this have such an impact on us -- because we all understand how it would be to have someone taken from us in this fashion.

"I had a chance to visit with each family and most of the conversation was filled with memory," he went on. "It was an opportunity to describe how wonderful their brother or their son or their daughter was, and the lives that they had touched and the dreams they held for the future. I confessed to them that words are always inadequate in these kinds of situations, but that my main task was to serve as a representative of the entire country and let them know that we're thinking about them at this moment, and that we'll continue thinking about them each and every day, and that the awareness that all of America and much of the world is thinking of them might serve as some comfort.

"Although the perpetrator of this evil act has received a lot of attention over the past couple of days," he conceded, "that attention will fade away. In the end, after he has felt the full force of our justice system, what will be remembered are the good people who were impacted by this tragedy.

"I also had a chance to give some hugs and shed some tears and also to share some laughs as they remembered the wonderful lives that these men and women represented..."

At that point, Obama thanked the hospital staffs that treated the victims of the shooting and noted the resilience of the people, most of them young, who were clinging to life just a day or two ago but now appear to be on the way toward making a full recovery. And then he shared the last story he heard before stepping in front of the microphone, involving Allie Young, nineteen, and her best friend, Stephanie Davies, 21.

"When the gunman initially came in and threw the canisters," Obama said, "he threw them only a few feet away from Allie and Stephanie. Allie stood up, seeing she might need to do something, or at least warn the other people who were there, and she was immediately shot. And she was shot in the neck, and it punctured a vein -- and immediately, she started spurting blood. And apparently, as she dropped down onto the floor, Stephanie, 21 years old, had the presence of mind to drop down on the floor with her, pull her out of the aisle, place her fingers over where Allie had been wounded, and apply pressure the entire time while the gunman was still shooting.

"Allie told Stephanie she needed to run, and Stephanie refused to go, and with her other hand called 911 on her cell phone. Once the SWAT team came in, they were still trying to clear the theater. Stephanie then, with the help of several others, carried Allie across two parking lots to where the ambulance was waiting. And because of Stephanie's timely actions, I just had a conversation with Allie downstairs, and she's going to be fine.

"As tragic as the circumstances we've seen today are, as heartbreaking as it is for the families, it's worth our time to focus our attention on young Americans like Allie and Stephanie," Obama stressed. "They assure us that out of this darkness, a bright day is going to come."

More from our News archive: "Aurora theater shooting at The Dark Knight Rises: Jessica Ghawi, news intern, ID'd as victim."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts