Local Aurora, Colorado residents Quentin Caldwell and Sharon Segura describe a brutally chaotic scene at the theater in the Denver suburbs where a gunman killed 12 and wounded 40 at the midnight premiere of the new Batman movie, “The Dark Night Rises.”
Segura told GlobalPost they were sitting in the third row, center of the theater next door to the shooting. Several minutes into the film, during an action scene, they heard gunshots that Segura thought sounded out of place.
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“We get about 10 minutes into the movie and there is this big action scene and there’s lots of gunfire. And there is just maybe five or six really loud pops” she said. “So I freak out and I jump a little. And my husband laughs at me and I said, ‘no you don’t understand that wasn’t part of the movie, that was real. That was way too loud.’”
Segura went on to say she and her husband stayed in their seats for about a minute before she heard another one or two shots. Then someone screamed, “someone’s shooting up the movie theater.”
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Segura said at this point she could see bullet holes in the wall from the theater next door.
Segura and her husband approached the lower exits to find them blocked. “We were yelled at ‘no no no, don’t go through the lobby.’”
Segura and her husband moved to the upper exits where she said they were met by two police officers, a man and a woman, who were shouting to everyone in the crowd to hold up their hands.
“The male cop starts screaming at someone ‘can they go?’ The female officer just said ‘just go, go get out of here.’”
Segura said she and her husband then ran down the stairs where they began to assist others out of the theater, in what she described as a “triage area.” Once outside, Segura said all she could see was blood.
“There are just people everywhere bleeding. Their legs just looked like they were made out of meat. There was no skin left on them, just full of holes.” Segura, who had first aid training, and Quentin, who is an ex-Marine, said “well, we’ve got to help these people.”
She described seeing a cop “who’d been shot through the chest. He looked terrified.” That’s when the couple decided to flee the scene. “If the gunmen are going to kill cops, there’s no way they’re going to be stopped,” she recalled thinking. She didn’t know at the time that a lone gunman was to blame.
She said that the cop was still alive when they left, but based on where he was shot, “I doubt that he would make it. There was just so much blood.”
She also recalled seeing a young girl “who looked about 16 who had been shot through the mouth - a clean hole, like it had exited out her mouth, as if she’d been screaming.”
She and her husband have lived about a mile from the theater for about five years. There is an Air Force base nearby. For the most part, she says it’s a quiet “middle to lower class neighborhood, depending on how far west you go.”
But she said lately there have been cases of “practical jokes that have gone terribly wrong,” such as people shooting bottle rockets at cars and kids jumping on things and breaking them. And “there is a lot of armed robbery of the neighborhood liquor stores.”
“When you get closer to the theater it goes downhill pretty quickly,” she added. “It’s kind of an odd area.”
After leaving the scene, Segura talked to a friend from work who was in the theater where the shooting took place. Her friend told her that all you could see of the shooter was “this giant black gas mask that he was wearing,” but that it was difficult to see due to the tear gas that he had unleashed. Her friend couldn’t be reached for comment.
The AP is reporting that the alleged killer, James Holmes, 24, had been captured and identified early Friday morning.
Sharon shares more of her experience in this YouTube video.
See GlobalPost's complete coverage of the Aurora shooting