Archive for July 22, 2012
Julie Rhoad is president and CEO of The NAMES Project Foundation, the international, nongovernmental, nonprofit organization that is the caretaker of the AIDS Memorial Quilt.
(CNN) — It is by no accident that the AIDS Memorial Quilt — which now measures more than 50 miles laid side by side and weighs 54 tons — is gracing the National Mall in Washington this weekend as the global HIV and AIDS community gathers nearby for the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012). As scientists, doctors, and program experts articulate a new and hopeful AIDS narrative at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, the Quilt will serve as a not-so-gentle reminder that this devastating disease continues to claim the lives of too many, too soon.
The Quilt lends voice and volume to the nearly 94,000 individuals whose names are lovingly sewn into panels by more than 100,000 friends and family members — and symbolically to the 1.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS in this country alone. Due to its vastness, The Quilt blankets the national capital region, with sections of the tapestry on display in 50 other host venues throughout the area. Today, worldwide, more than 34 million people now live with HIV/AIDS, and 3.4 million of them are under the age of 15. Every day more than 7,000 people contract HIV—nearly 300 every hour. The global numbers are staggering, but so are some of the numbers in the hardest-hit cities in this country. Indeed, recent research shows some U.S. cities have HIV rates that rival Africa in their magnitude.
Yet behind the cold statistics, there are faces and stories with legacies. The faces on the Quilt are our fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters. They are our aunts and uncles, grandparents, daughters, sons, neighbors, our doctors and ministers, our best friends, and co-workers. And, after the tears that are shed for them subside, they are celebrated with lace and mink and bubble wrap…with pearls and buttons, and their favorite T-shirt or logo stitched into the 3-by-6-foot panels, roughly the size of a human grave. These are the stories and lives that together make up the world’s largest living work of folk art.
Throughout its 25-year history, this masterpiece created “by the people, for the people” has been used to fight prejudice, and to raise awareness and funding for direct service and advocacy groups. The Quilt is a catalyst and conduit, a tool for healing and grief therapy, a springboard for frank dialogue, both civic and private. It gives voice to far too many lives lost, telling us that never again should we ever leave a community in need and dying, ignored and uncared for. It is a stark reminder that we can never forget that we are all inextricably linked in life. More than 20 million individuals around the world have attended displays and witnessed the extraordinary power, beauty, love, rage and sorrow of this multitude of voices. The Quilt’s powerful lessons and poignant imagery provide compelling evidence that HIV/AIDS can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any age.
What started out as an activist action has become a powerful voice with artistic and cultural expression, now considered an American Treasure by an act of Congress. It is indeed difficult to walk away from the Quilt, whether a single panel, a block, or miles of expressions of love on material, unmoved. And yet, unfortunately, almost every day, a new panel arrives at the NAMES Project Foundation, which curates, cares for and manages the Quilt. Each new panel is then added to the Quilt and helps to advance the cause of human rights and social justice. In 1988, a lone panel was delivered quietly to the NAMES Project in Atlanta. Unlike any other panel among the tens of thousands of panels made at that time, this special panel arrived simply with a handwritten note that read: “I hope this quilt will find a permanent place and help mark the end of this devastating disease.” The panel itself was stark in design, white letters on a black background, simply saying “The Last One.”
In the decades since this panel was left on our doorstep, we have held on to it with hopeful anticipation that we would one day reach “The Last One.” We unveiled this panel publicly for the first time on the National Mall during our opening ceremony Saturday. (It will remain on display until Wednesday.) We did so with heavy hearts, with hopeful hearts, but we still can’t yet stitch it into the Quilt. Not until we see the last new infection, the last AIDS case, the last death from AIDS, the last one left orphaned, the last person to face discrimination for living with HIV. In the meantime, as AIDS 2012 goes about its mission to push the boundaries of science and medicine to find an end to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, we will continue to preserve, care for, and use the AIDS Memorial Quilt to foster healing, to be a bully pulpit for social justice and, most important, to inspire action in the age of AIDS and beyond.
Everyone can help us live to honor “The Last One.” Educate, help prevent infection, be an advocate, volunteer in the many communities around the country who host displays, donate to keep hope alive. Only then will we know our work — like the work of our scientists and researchers the world over — by our artists and advocates, communities and corporate partners, friends and family members was not in vain.
AURORA, Colorado — (DMN) – President Barack Obama arrived in Colorado today where he met with local officials and families of those gunned down inside a crowded movie theater last week. Air Force One landed at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colorado, where he was expected to stay for a two-and-a-half-hour visit. He headed straight to the University of Colorado Hospital, one of several area medical centers that received shooting victims. Obama will not attend a community prayer vigil, which is scheduled in Aurora Sunday night. He will be briefed on the investigation, officials said,and is expected to address the public before he leaves Colorado.
The man accused of opening fire inside the theater left a trail of evidence that police say suggests the rampage was part of a calculated plan that included killing anyone who tried to learn more about him in the aftermath of the attack. Authorities have said little about what they believe was the motive of suspect James E. Holmes, though investigators say there is evidence planning was under way for up to two months beforehand. Twelve people were killed and 58 were wounded in the Friday morning attack that has shocked the nation and reignited a conversation about gun laws in America. Holmes, 24, is being held in connection with the shootings at the theater and the subsequent discovery of his booby-trapped apartment, which authorities believe he rigged before leaving for the Century Aurora 16 multiplex.
Holmes received a high volume of deliveries over the past four months to both his home and work addresses, which police believe begins to explain how he got his hands on some of the materials used in the attack and those found at his apartment, said Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates. “What we’re seeing here is evidence of, I think, some calculation and deliberation,” Oates said. “We have the evidence of a deliberative process to commit this assault, and we have the evidence of a deliberative process in his mind to attack whoever opened the door of his apartment.” Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper told CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday he spent a day going from hospital to hospital, talking with survivors. He concluded that Holmes was a person who wanted to terrorize and instill fear in people’s lives, but said he can’t conceive of a motive. “This is a deeply troubled, twisted, delusional person,” he said.
One survivor, Josh Nowlan, sustained gunshot wounds, but said he is happy just to be alive. He wouldn’t be, he said, if the suspect’s gun had not jammed. “I know I wouldn’t be here. If that gun did not jam, I am full certain that I probably would not be here,” he said from his hospital bed Saturday. Police gained access Saturday to Holmes’ apartment after intentionally detonating two rigged explosives. Technicians, with the help of a robot, worked to handle traps, wires and possible explosive and incendiary devices, Jim Yacone, a special agent with the FBI, told reporters Saturday. The operation proceeded with an eye toward preserving evidence, all of which will be sent to an FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia, Yacone said.
Hundreds of residents were evacuated from five buildings, including the modest, three-story brick building where Holmes told police he had rigged his top-floor, one-bedroom apartment with explosives. All occupants except those who live in the suspect’s building were allowed to return home Saturday night. While the threat to the apartment building Holmes lived was eliminated Saturday, Oates said the residents were being kept out at least until Sunday as investigators work “to preserve evidence.” As of Sunday, at least 17 people remained hospitalized — eight in critical condition — in five area hospitals. Aurora’s residents, meanwhile, were grappling with the aftermath of the carnage.
Oates said the Century 16 multiplex would remain shuttered at least until Wednesday to give police time to complete the investigation inside and allow the suspect’s defense team access by Tuesday. Holmes, who is being held in the Arapahoe County Jail, is scheduled to appear in court on Monday morning. The court file was sealed, according to a court order. Witnesses described the gunman as wearing a gas mask that concealed much of his face and head. He opened fire during a screening of the new Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Holmes’ hair was dyed red, and he told police when he was arrested in the rear parking lot of the theater minutes after the rampage that he was “the Joker,” according to a federal law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation. The source was not authorized to release details to the media. The Joker has long been a fixture in Batman comics and was famously portrayed by Heath Ledger in 2008′s “The Dark Knight,” the predecessor to “The Dark Knight Rises.” Oates has declined to release details about Holmes’ appearance other than to describe what he was wearing: a ballistic helmet and protective gear for his legs, throat and groin, black gloves and a gas mask. He also said he would not release the booking photo “for investigative reasons.”
AURORA, Colorado — (DMN) – He is alleged to have identified himself to arresting police officers as “The Joker,” a man who had dyed his hair red. Authorities are trying to figure out how and why a noted neuroscientist would attack movie goers in a suburban Denver theater. 24-year old James Holmes is in custody for allegedly killing 12 people and injuring 58 others when he opened fire in a packed midnight screening of the latest Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Dressed in full riot gear, Holmes allegedly entered from an emergency exit in the front right corner of the theater before releasing something that witnesses identify as tear gas or a smoke bomb. From there, he allegedly sprayed the sold-out theater with a storm of bullets, injuring and killing both adults and children. Though Holmes was apparently a gifted scientist who had received a federal grant to work on his Ph.D. at one of the most competitive neuroscience programs in the country, he was a loner who — oddly for a young scientist — seemed to have no Internet presence. And officials today said they now have “evidence of calculation and deliberation,” in the way he allegedly planned and prepared for the shooting, beginning to buy weapons and ammunition two months ago.
Holmes is originally from San Diego, where he once reportedly worked as a camp counselor for underprivileged children. He was an honors student at Westview High School, but did not walk in his graduation ceremony. “He was the kind of person that if you teased him, he would sit there and smile and really not do anything about it,” said Jordan Toth, a high school classmate of Holmes. “This was this nice kid, grew up in a nice neighborhood. And I don’t know what happened,” said Kim Goff, Holmes’ mother’s neighbor.
In 2010, he graduated with top honors from University of California Riverside with a bachelors of science in neuroscience, and then moved to Aurora to pursue his education at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Holmes was an honors student and Ph.D. candidate at the school’s graduate program in neuroscience until he voluntarily withdrew from the program in June. He was one of six recipients of a Neuroscience Training Grant from the National Institutes of Health, which funds pre-thesis Ph.D. students in the neuroscience program at the nschutz Medical Campus. According to the university, the focus of the program is on “training outstanding neuroscientists and academicians who will make significant contributions to neurobiology.”
He reportedly failed a preliminary exam before pulling out of the program. It is unclear if the exam was related to his decision to leave the program. Officials have said that even if Holmes did fail the exam, he would not have been kicked out of the program because students have an opportunity to improve their grades with an oral exam. “I don’t know any of that and I don’t know that we have any of that information on him,” Anschutz Medical Campus spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery told ABC News.
The university said Holmes gave no reason for asking to withdraw from the program. Last year, Holmes applied to the University of Arizona, according to statement by the school, but was rejected, KPHO-TV in Phoenix reported. With no apparent Facebook or Twitter account, Holmes has essentially no online footprint, virtually unheard of for someone of his age. Neighbors and acquaintances have said that Holmes was quiet, lived alone and kept to himself. No close friends have yet come forward to talk about him. Holmes bought his first gun, a glock pistol, at Gander Mountain Guns in Aurora two months ago. Over the next several weeks, he bought more guns at Colorado gun shops — a tactical shotgun, another pistol and the suspected primary murder weapon — a Smith and Wesson high-powered assault rifle.
Holmes does not have a criminal record except for a traffic violation, which would allow him to pass any background check for weapons, law enforcement sources said. Sources say that Holmes also bought 6,000 rounds of ammunition and swat gear, including body armor and a gas mask, through the internet. When he was arrested Friday, he indicated to police that he had booby-trapped his apartment, leading officers to evacuate the Aurora apartment building. Authorities found that the apartment was laced with intricate and potentially deadly booby-traps. “I see an awful lot of wires, trip wires, jars full of ammunition, jars full of liquid. Some things that look like mortar rounds,” Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said. “We have a lot of challenge, to get in there safely.” Holmes is being held in jail and is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Monday.
Is the war on terror a war that is out of control? It’s remarkable that we have not suffered a terrorist attack since 9/11…or have we? In recent years we have been saved from lethal terrorist plots — or so it has seemed. A would-be suicide bomber was intercepted on his way to the Capitol; a scheme to bomb synagogues and shoot Stinger missiles at military aircraft was developed by men in Newburgh, N.Y.; and a fanciful idea to fly explosive-laden model planes into the Pentagon and the Capitol was hatched in Massachusetts. But all these dramas were facilitated by the F.B.I., whose undercover agents and informers posed as terrorists offering a dummy missile, fake C-4 explosives, a disarmed suicide vest and rudimentary training. Suspects naïvely played their parts until they were arrested.
When an Oregon college student, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, thought of using a car bomb to attack a festive Christmas-tree lighting ceremony in Portland, the F.B.I. provided a van loaded with six 55-gallon drums of “inert material,” harmless blasting caps, a detonator cord and a gallon of diesel fuel to make the van smell flammable. An undercover F.B.I. agent even did the driving, with Mr. Mohamud in the passenger seat. To trigger the bomb the student punched a number into a cellphone and got no boom, only a bust. This is legal, but is it legitimate? Without the F.B.I., would the culprits commit violence on their own? Is cultivating potential terrorists the best use of the manpower designed to find the real ones? Judging by their official answers, the F.B.I. and the Justice Department are sure of themselves — too sure, perhaps.
Carefully orchestrated sting operations usually hold up in court. Defendants invariably claim entrapment and almost always lose, because the law requires that they show no predisposition to commit the crime, even when induced by government agents. To underscore their predisposition, many suspects are “warned about the seriousness of their plots and given opportunities to back out,” said Dean Boyd, a Justice Department spokesman. But not always, recorded conversations show. Sometimes they are coaxed to continue.
Undercover operations, long practiced by the F.B.I., have become a mainstay of counterterrorism, and they have changed in response to the post-9/11 focus on prevention. “Prior to 9/11 it would be very unusual for the F.B.I. to present a crime opportunity that wasn’t in the scope of the activities that a person was already involved in,” said Mike German of the American Civil Liberties Union, a lawyer and former F.B.I. agent who infiltrated white supremacist groups. An alleged drug dealer would be set up to sell drugs to an undercover agent, an arms trafficker to sell weapons. That still happens routinely, but less so in counterterrorism, and for good reason. “There isn’t a business of terrorism in the United States, thank God,” a former federal prosecutor, David Raskin, explained. “You’re not going to be able to go to a street corner and find somebody who’s already blown something up,” he said. Therefore, the usual goal is not “to find somebody who’s already engaged in terrorism but find somebody who would jump at the opportunity if a real terrorist showed up in town.” And that’s the gray area. Who is susceptible? Anyone who plays along with the agents, apparently. Once the snare is set, law enforcement sees no choice. “Ignoring such threats is not an option,” Mr. Boyd argued, “given the possibility that the suspect could act alone at any time or find someone else willing to help him.”
Typically, the stings initially target suspects for pure speech — comments to an informer outside a mosque, angry postings on Web sites, e-mails with radicals overseas — then woo them into relationships with informers, who are often convicted felons working in exchange for leniency, or with F.B.I. agents posing as members of Al Qaeda or other groups. Some targets have previous involvement in more than idle talk: for example, Waad Ramadan Alwan, an Iraqi in Kentucky, whose fingerprints were found on an unexploded roadside bomb near Bayji, Iraq, and Raja Khan of Chicago, who had sent funds to an Al Qaeda leader in Pakistan.
But others seem ambivalent, incompetent and adrift, like hapless wannabes looking for a cause that the informer or undercover agent skillfully helps them find. Take the Stinger missile defendant James Cromitie, a low-level drug dealer with a criminal record that included no violence or hate crime, despite his rants against Jews. “He was searching for answers within his Islamic faith,” said his lawyer, Clinton W. Calhoun III, who has appealed his conviction. “And this informant, I think, twisted that search in a really pretty awful way, sort of misdirected Cromitie in his search and turned him towards violence.”
The informer, Shahed Hussain, had been charged with fraud, but avoided prison and deportation by working undercover in another investigation. He was being paid by the F.B.I. to pose as a wealthy Pakistani with ties to Jaish-e-Mohammed, a terrorist group that Mr. Cromitie apparently had never heard of before they met by chance in the parking lot of a mosque. “Brother, did you ever try to do anything for the cause of Islam?” Mr. Hussain asked at one point. “O.K., brother,” Mr. Cromitie replied warily, “where you going with this, brother?” Two days later, the informer told him, “Allah has more work for you to do,” and added, “Revelation is going to come in your dreams that you have to do this thing, O.K.?” About 15 minutes later, Mr. Hussain proposed the idea of using missiles, saying he could get them in a container from China. Mr. Cromitie laughed.
Reading hundreds of pages of transcripts of the recorded conversations is like looking at the inkblots of a Rorschach test. Patterns of willingness and hesitation overlap and merge. “I don’t want anyone to get hurt,” Mr. Cromitie said, and then explained that he meant women and children. “I don’t care if it’s a whole synagogue of men.” It took 11 months of meandering discussion and a promise of $250,000 to lead him, with three co-conspirators he recruited, to plant fake bombs at two Riverdale synagogues. “Only the government could have made a ‘terrorist’ out of Mr. Cromitie, whose buffoonery is positively Shakespearean in its scope,” said Judge Colleen McMahon, sentencing him to 25 years. She branded it a “fantasy terror operation” but called his attempt “beyond despicable” and rejected his claim of entrapment.
The judge’s statement was unusual, but Mr. Cromitie’s characteristics were not. His incompetence and ambivalence could be found among other aspiring terrorists whose grandiose plans were nurtured by law enforcement. They included men who wanted to attack fuel lines at Kennedy International Airport; destroy the Sears Tower (now Willis Tower) in Chicago; carry out a suicide bombing near Tampa Bay, Fla., and bomb subways in New York and Washington. Of the 22 most frightening plans for attacks since 9/11 on American soil, 14 were developed in sting operations.
Another New York City subway plot, which recently went to trial, needed no help from government. Nor did a bombing attempt in Times Square, the abortive underwear bombing in a jetliner over Detroit, a planned attack on Fort Dix, N.J., and several smaller efforts. Some threats are real, others less so. In terrorism, it’s not easy to tell the difference. Now…just a question. Could James Holmes have been in the process of being set up by the F.B.I.? It would not be the first time the federal government had set up would be terrorists or had an operation run amuck.
Operation Fast and Furious is another example of a government mess. Characterized as a gunrunning operation run amuck, Fast and Furious has led to the removal of the acting director of the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; repeated congressional hearings; President Obama’s first assertion of executive privilege to protect documents subpoenaed by congressional investigators; and most recently to the Republican-led House voting to find the attorney general in contempt of congress–a first for a sitting cabinet member.
Fast and Furious was run out of ATF’s Phoenix office. The objective was to follow the firearms into the hands of the Sinaloa cartel and unravel their gunrunning network. According to a July 11, 2011 Los Angeles Times editorial, “As part of Fast and Furious, ATF agents allowed straw purchases, in which a person buys guns on behalf of someone else who cannot legally buy them. The idea was to allow the purchases to go through in order to trace where the guns ended up, but agents appear to have lost track of a significant number of the weapons. Nearly 200 of the guns were used in crimes in Mexico, officials have determined, and two weapons were found in December at the scene of a U.S. Border Patrol agent’s killing.” $15,000.00 arsenal. Receiver of government grants. Neuroscience major. Something is really strange about James E. Holmes and the details of this crime in Colorado just are not making sense.
It has already started. A renewed national debate about gun control, ignorant public policies started in the aftermath of a massacre that now restrict costumes from movie theaters and from The Denver Post…”Why Colorado?” Why anywhere is my question and why would a neuroscience major dress in ballistic armor and attack movie goers with pepper spray and assault weapons. I am doing my best to filter the smoke and mirrors and well-intentioned nonsense from the mainstream media to focus on James Holmes. I am completely perplexed as are many of you.
James E. Holmes is described by those who know him as a doctoral student who is clean-cut, quiet and responsible, an image difficult to reconcile with the same man who police allege opened fire in a movie theater dressed up as “The Joker.” Days after the 24-year-old was arrested on suspicion of a mass shooting at the Century 16 multiplex in Aurora, Colorado, the portrait of Holmes that is emerging is as limited as it is confusing. Pictures obtained of Holmes show a bright-eyed young man, who is tall with dark hair, which contrasts the description of the man by a law enforcement official who said he dyed his hair red and identified himself as “the Joker” to authorities after he was arrested early Friday morning for allegedly shooting people during a screening of the new Batman movie.
By all accounts, Holmes is a bright student. He entered the University of California, Riverside, in 2006 as a scholarship student and graduated with highest honors with a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience in 2010. “Academically, he was at the top of the top,” Chancellor Timothy P. White said. UC Riverside police have no record of any contact with Holmes, the university said. Neither did police at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, where Holmes enrolled in 2011 as a doctoral candidate in its neuroscience program at the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, university officials said in a statement released Sunday. In fact, the sole contact authorities in Colorado appeared to have had with Holmes was a speeding summons in 2011, according to Aurora police.
A syllabus that lists Holmes as a student at the medical school shows that he may have taken a class in which he studied topics as diverse as substance abuse, schizophrenia, depression and other disorders. According to the document, he was to have delivered a presentation in May about microRNA biomarkers. Though there are indications that something may have been amiss in Holmes’ life in recent months. He withdrew from the program in June 2012, though “he gave no reason for his withdrawal from the graduate school,” said Jacque Montgomery, spokeswoman for the University of Colorado.
It is not immediately clear if Holmes, who also worked in a paid position in the university’s neuroscience research program, was still employed there after withdrawing from the program. Holmes received a large volume of deliveries over the past four months to both his home and work addresses, which police believe begins to explain how he got his hands on some of the materials used in the rampage and the subsequent discovery of his booby-trapped apartment, Aurora Police Chief Paul Oates. The police chief has declined to release details about a possible motive or Holmes’ appearance at the time of his arrest, citing an ongoing investigation. But he did say Holmes purchased four weapons and more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition in recent months.
Police allege Holmes was dressed in black, wearing a ballistic helmet, a tactical ballistic vest, protective leggings, a throat and groin protector and a gas mask during the attack. Witnesses to the shooting say because the gunman wore a gas mask, they did not see his face. Unlike most people his age, Holmes does not appear to have a social media footprint — no Facebook, no Twitter and no Tumblr account, though authorities are investigating whether he posted a profile on sex website Adult Friend Finder. The profile contains a picture of a man with fiery red hair, a law enforcement source said. Police believe it may be a picture of Holmes, said the source, who was not authorized to speak to the media. The profile said it was created by a 24-year-old man from Aurora and has since been taken down.
It’s a profile that contrasts with news that Holmes worked as a counselor at a summer camp for needy children in 2008. Camp Max Straus caters to needy children ages 7-14, and is run by Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles, which confirmed his employment but would not offer further details or comment. The man who grew up in the upscale northwest San Diego neighborhood of Rancho Peñasquitos was renting an apartment on in Aurora, according to police and realty records. Tom Mai, a neighbor of the Holmes family in San Diego, described Holmes as “clean-cut, quiet, responsible.” At the time of his arrest, Holmes was living in a small, three story brick building on Paris Street in Aurora, in Apartment 10, within walking distance to the university. “Neighbors report he lived alone and he kept to himself,” Oates said.
A neighbor who lives one floor below Holmes’ third-floor apartment, Tori Lynn Everhart, described the apartments this way: “It’s not like true ghetto. It’s not the safest neighborhood, but it’s definitely improving.” Apparently, Holmes told police during his arrest he had booby-trapped the third-floor apartment. Kaitlyn Fonzi, a 20-year-old grad student and neighbor, said she heard techno music blasting from his apartment around the time of the shooting, and had nearly opened Holmes’ unlocked apartment door to complain, unaware that the unit was booby trapped with explosives. A timer had turned the music on so that it would blare in his apartment after he left for the Aurora multiplex, according to a law enforcement source, who also spoke on condition of anonymity.
Bomb technicians worked Saturday to clear “all hazards” from the apartment, and began allowing some evacuated residents to return. Jackie Mitchell, who lives close to Holmes, had a beer with him on Tuesday. Mitchell was stunned at news of Holmes’ alleged involvement in the attack. “You would never guess he was a violent guy,” Mitchell said, describing Holmes as “nerdish” and “a book-smart type guy.” In San Diego, the suspect’s family issued a statement saying they were still trying to process the news. “Our hearts go out to those who were involved in this tragedy and to the families and friends of those involved,” the Holmes family said, without giving any information about him.
The Denver Post reports that James Holmes applied to join a Colorado gun range last month but never became a member because of his behavior and a “bizarre” message on his voice mail greeting, the range’s owner said Sunday. Holmes, 24, emailed an application to join the Lead Valley Range in Byers on June 25 in which he said he was not a user of illegal drugs or a convicted felon, said owner Glenn Rotkovich. But when Rotkovich called to invite him to a mandatory orientation the following week, he said he heard Holmes’ voice mail greeting that was “bizarre—guttural, freakish at best.” It identified the number as belonging to “James,” so Rotkovich said he left a message. He left two other messages but eventually told his staff to watch out for Holmes at the July 1 orientation and not to accept him into the club, Rotkovich said. His comments were first reported by Fox News. “There’s something weird here,” Rotkovich said he concluded.
Holmes is being held without bond on suspicion of multiple counts of first-degree murder after a shooting rampage minutes into a premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises” early Friday that left 12 people dead and 58 wounded. He is scheduled for an initial hearing Monday and has been assigned a public defender. The gunman’s semiautomatic assault rifle jammed during the attack at the Aurora movie theater, forcing him to switch to another gun with less firepower, a federal law enforcement official told The Associated Press. That malfunction and weapons switch during the shooting rampage might have saved some lives.
As the investigation into the massacre continued Sunday, the University of Colorado said it was looking into whether Holmes used his position as a graduate student to order materials in the potentially deadly booby traps that police said they found in his apartment. Holmes got deliveries over four months to his home and school, authorities have said. The university is looking into what was received at the school to assist police with their investigation, said spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery. The suspect was described as a budding scientist, brimming with potential, who pursued a graduate program even as he planned the attack with “calculation and deliberation,” police said.
Holmes’ apartment was booby trapped with jars of liquids, explosives and chemicals that could have killed “whoever entered it,” Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said, noting it would have likely been one of his officers. Investigators spent hours removing the explosive materials Saturday. Inside the apartment, bomb technicians neutralized a “hypergolic mixture” and an improvised explosive device containing an unknown substance, said James Yacone, an FBI special agent. There also were containers of accelerants, creating “an extremely dangerous environment,” he said. Oates said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that he had never seen a booby trap as elaborate as what was found in the apartment. By late Saturday afternoon, all hazards had been removed from the apartment and residents in surrounding buildings were allowed to return home, police said.
The exception was Holmes’ apartment building, where authorities were still collecting evidence. Authorities covered the windows of Holmes’ apartment with black plastic to prevent anyone from seeing in. Before they did, a man in an ATF T-shirt could be seen measuring a poster on a closet that advertised a DVD called “Soldiers of Misfortune.” The poster showed several figures in various positions playing paintball, some wearing masks. Police left the apartment building carrying a laptop computer and a hard drive about 8 p.m. Saturday. President Barack Obama left Washington for Colorado on Sunday to visit with the families of victims. The city of Aurora planned a vigil to remember the dead and wounded in the shooting later in the evening.
While authorities continued to refuse to discuss a possible motive for one of the deadliest mass shootings in recent U.S. history, details about Holmes’ background as a student and would-be scientist trickled out. He had recently withdrawn from the competitive graduate program in neuroscience at the University of Colorado Denver, where he was one of six pre-thesis Ph.D. students at its Neuroscience Program to be funded by a prestigious grant from the National Institutes of Health. The program of 35 students is dedicated to training outstanding neuroscientists and academicians who will make significant contributions to neurobiology, the university said in a statement.
In the first year of the five- to seven-year program, students take classes and complete three, three-month research rotations in the labs of different professors. Professors who worked with him either did not return calls or declined to comment, saying police and university officials had told them not to speak to the media. At one point in the year, Holmes was engaged in research about RNA and was to present a paper May 8 about RNA Biomarkers, according to a class schedule. It was unclear if he presented the paper. Holmes recently took an intense, three-part oral exam that marks the end of the first year. Those who do well continue with their studies and shift to full-time research, while those who don’t do well meet with advisers and discuss their options, including retaking the exam.
University officials would not say if he passed, citing privacy concerns. The university said Holmes gave no reason for his withdrawal, a decision he made in June. Holmes was not allowed access from the institution after his withdrawal, which was “standard operating procedure” because he was no longer affiliated with the school, Montgomery said. Holmes had no contact with university police, she said. In a resume posted on Monster.com, Holmes listed himself as an “aspiring scientist” and said he was looking for a job as a laboratory technician. The resume, first obtained in Holmes’ home state of California by The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, paints a picture of a brilliant young man brimming with potential: He worked as a summer intern at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla in 2006 and mapped the neurons of Zebra finches and studied the flight muscles of hummingbirds while an undergraduate at the University of California, Riverside.
He also worked as a cabin counselor to underprivileged children at a summer camp in Los Angeles in 2008. In a statement, Camp Max Straus confirmed Holmes had worked there for eight weeks. The camp provided no other details about Holmes but said such counselors are generally responsible for the care and guidance of roughly 10 children. Ritchie Duong, a friend who has known Holmes for more than a decade, told the Los Angeles Times that in high school he liked to play cards and video games. They both attended undergraduate school at the University of California, Riverside, where they saw each other once a week to watch the TV show “Lost.”
Duong last saw Holmes in December when they met for dinner in Los Angeles and saw a movie together. His friend seemed fine, he told the newspaper. Academics came easily to Holmes both at high school and at the UC Riverside, Duong said. “I had one college class with him, and he didn’t even have to take notes or anything. He would just show up to class, sit there, and around test time he would always get an ‘A,’” said Duong, 24. During the attack early Friday, Holmes set off gas canisters and used the military-style semiautomatic rifle, a shotgun and a pistol to open fire on the unsuspecting theater-goers, Oates said. Holmes had bought the weapons at local gun stores in the past two months. He recently purchased 6,000 rounds of ammunition over the Internet, the chief said.
The gun that jammed had a high-capacity ammunition magazine, according to the federal law enforcement official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the investigation. Police have said that a 100-round drum magazine was recovered at the scene and that such a device would be able to fire 50 to 60 rounds a minute. The federal official spoke on condition of anonymity to in order to discuss the investigation, said the disabled weapon Holmes also bought an urban assault vest, two magazine holders and a knife for just over $300 on July 2 from an online supplier of tactical gear for police and military personnel, according to the company. Chad Weinman, CEO of TacticalGear.com, said his company processes thousands of orders each day, and there was nothing unusual in the one that Holmes placed.
Some things stick out in this latest reporting. Law enforcement is still not disclosing a motive which could be because they simply do not know or they cannot say at this point with any degree of certainty. I still want to know why a genius, by most accounts, a government grant getting neuroscience major does something like this. I agree with the owner of the Colorado gun range that rejected Holmes application to join the firing range…“there’s something weird here”…indeed.
I implore the readers of this blog to challenge everything you read, see and hear regarding the investigation into the Colorado massacre that includes everything you see, read and hear via this blog. We will witness an unprecedented law enforcement investigation in the coming days, weeks and months and here is something you need to bear in mind. The police and prosecutors will release information that bolsters their case. They will spend any amount of money necessary, use whatever investigative prowess they have to go after this alleged shooter. Question it all. Dig into it all.
First and foremost on my mind are comments from James Holmes mother that they “got the right guy.” Another statement that should not be lost came from New York Cities Police Commissioner Ray Kelly who said Friday that the alleged gunman in the attack on a packed theater in Colorado identified himself as Batman’s arch-enemy “The Joker” after he sprayed bullets into a midnight showing of “Batman: The Dark Knight Rises.” “He had his hair painted red, he said he was ‘The Joker,’ obviously the ‘enemy’ of Batman,” Kelly said at a news conference in which he said security at New York City theaters was being increased. You might recall that police in Colorado would not confirm those statements to be true so is it the case of an overzealous cop on the East Coast sharing what he knows? I don’t think so. Cops don’t make gaffes like this and they don’t make statements without tremendous thought.
They are shaping this investigation and more importantly, your perception of the alleged shooter. The man accused of opening fire in a crowded Colorado movie theater left a trail of evidence that police say suggests the rampage was part of a calculated plan that included killing anyone who tried to learn more about him in the aftermath of the attack according to CNN. Of course, the police have yet to examine evidence from inside his apartment. They have not been inside.
Holmes received a high volume of deliveries over the past four months to both his home and work addresses, which police believe begins to explain how he got his hands on some of the materials used in the attack and those found at his apartment, said Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates. “What we’re seeing here is evidence of, I think, some calculation and deliberation,” Oates said. “We have the evidence of a deliberative process to commit this assault, and we have the evidence of a deliberative process in his mind to attack whoever opened the door of his apartment.”
Police gained access Saturday to Holmes’ apartment after intentionally detonating two rigged explosives. Technicians, with the help of a robot, worked to handle traps, wires and possible explosive and incendiary devices, Jim Yacone, a special agent with the FBI, told reporters Saturday. The operation proceeded with an eye toward preserving evidence, all of which will be sent to an FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia, Yacone said. Hundreds of residents were evacuated from five buildings, including the modest, three-story brick building where Holmes told police he had rigged his top-floor, one-bedroom apartment with explosives. All occupants except those who live in the suspect’s building were allowed to return home Saturday night, police said.
Already, in the first hours of the investigation, police have let it be known that Holmes spent $15,000.00 on tactical gear and his arsenal. Investigators have found key evidence in dumpsters and trash bins outside of James Holmes’ apartment, including a shipping label from an internet ammunition store called BulkAmmo.com. Investigators also tell CBS News they have recovered a surveillance video of James Holmes picking up approximately 150 pounds of ammunition at a Federal Express outlet in Colorado. They’ve interviewed a UPS driver who says Holmes had 90 packages delivered to his workplace on the University of Colorado medical campus.
It all adds up to a methodically planned attack, said Aurora police chief Dan Oates. “What we’re seeing here is evidence I think of some calculation and deliberation,” said Oates. Investigators suspect Holmes accelerated his planning in late May, when he purchased the first of the four guns found at the shooting scene. Over the Internet, police say, Holmes bought a staggering amount of ammunition. “Through the Internet he purchased over 6,000 rounds of ammunition, more than 3,000 rounds of. 223 ammunition for the assault rifle, 3,000 rounds of .40 caliber ammunition for the two Glocks in his possession and 300 rounds for the 12 gauge shotgun.” Holmes did most his shopping on Internet sites. And he was clearly in a hurry.
BulkAmmo.com says that they: “founded to provide serious shooters and training professionals with a reliable, economically priced source for bulk ammunition. We shoot a lot of rounds (just like you) and we understand the frustrations and inconveniences of finding good suppliers who consistently have what is needed at good prices. One member of our staff, Steven, is a former Marine armorer who became a customer before coming to work at BulkAmmo.com. Other members of the BulkAmmo.com team have experience in law enforcement, law enforcement training, the military, and just plain ole range time. When it comes to experience in supplying large quantities of ammunition to serious shooters, our staff is experienced and well-prepared to become your private armorer.”
A federal law enforcement official said the semi-automatic assault rifle used in the deadly Colorado movie theater shooting jammed during the attack. The official said late Saturday the rifle had a high-capacity ammunition magazine which, based on witness accounts and evidence collected at the scene, apparently jammed. The rifle’s malfunction then forced the suspected shooter, James Holmes, to switch to another weapon. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the investigation. Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates has said a 100-round drum magazine was recovered at the scene of the shooting in suburban Denver. Oates said such a weapon was capable of firing 50 to 60 rounds a minute. Police said Holmes also had two Glock pistols and a shotgun. Holmes, a 24-year-old former graduate student, is in custody. The attack early Friday killed 12 people and wounded nearly 60 others.
Witnesses described the gunman as wearing a gas mask that concealed much of his face and head. Holmes’ hair was dyed red, and he told police when he was arrested in the rear parking lot of the theater minutes after the rampage that he was “the Joker,” according to a federal law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation. The source was not authorized to release details to the media. The Joker has long been a fixture in Batman comics and was famously portrayed by Heath Ledger in 2008′s “The Dark Knight,” the predecessor to “The Dark Knight Rises.” Oates has declined to release details about Holmes’ appearance other than to describe what he was wearing: a ballistic helmet and protective gear for his legs, throat and groin, black gloves and a gas mask. He also said he would not release the booking photo “for investigative reasons.”
Aurora police chief Daniel Oates rejected media reports that a second person of interest is associated with Friday’s massacre in Colorado. He said James Holmes is the only suspect but they are interested in speaking to anyone who knows or has had contact with Holmes. “All the evidence we have, every single indicator, is that… this is all Mr. Holmes’ activity and that he wasn’t particularly aided by anyone else,” Oates said in an exclusive interview Sunday on “Face the Nation. “We’re building a case to show that this was a deliberative process by a very intelligent man who wanted to do this.”
Oates said the person brought in to be questioned on Saturday “was a casual consequence.” “The relationship was real inconsequential,” he said. “[I]t’s really an inconsequential matter.” Oates Also discussed the sophistication of Holmes’ apartment which was rigged full of explosives. “I think it speaks volumes about his intelligence and his deliberation and his cold-bloodedness. I could not believe the pictures I saw from the robot about the way this thing was designed.”
In the end, there is still nothing to indicate why James Holmes would do something like this. The University of Colorado says shooting suspect James Holmes had a federal grant to study neuroscience. University spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery said Saturday that Holmes was one of six neuroscience students at the school to get National Institutes of Health grant money. She didn’t know how much money he got. The NIH says the university decides who gets the grants. Criteria for receiving the grant weren’t immediately clear. The university says Holmes enrolled in the program last year and was withdrawing. Montgomery says Holmes didn’t indicate why he was withdrawing. Montgomery says Holmes took an oral exam at the end of the semester that all students must pass to continue in the program. She says privacy laws prevent the school from releasing his score.
AURORA, Colorado — (DMN/CBS) – They had one thing in common: They were eager to watch a new action film. In the span of a few minutes hundreds of people in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater were terrorized when a masked gunman entered an auditorium at the Century 16 multiplex, threw a gas canister, and opened fire. In the smoky dark, moviegoers tried to run or crawl for cover. In what was the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, 12 people were killed and 58 injured.
Among the victims: A hero who tried to block his girlfriend’s body from bullets. A man celebrating his birthday. A young sports reporter, who had coincidentally survived a mass shooting just months before. A Navy sailor from nearby Buckley Air Force Base. A six-year-old girl. The identities of those who were killed early Friday are slowly being confirmed by authorities and family members. Below are some of them:
Alexander Jonathan (“A.J.”) Boik.
(Credit: Family Photo)
Alexander Jonathan Boik
“AJ” Boik enjoyed baseball, music, and making pottery, and dreamed of becoming an art teacher. A 2012 graduate of Gateway High School, Boik had been accepted at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, where he planned on attending classes in the fall.
His family said he was also dating a beautiful young lady, who was with Boik at the Century 16 theater. She survived the shooting spree.
In a statement his family said AJ was “a wonderful, handsome and loving 18-year-old young man, with a warm and loving heart.”
“He enjoyed his friends and family and always brought a smile and quick wit to every occasion.
“A.J. was loved by all that knew him. We want to try and focus on the beautiful lives that were ended and not the evil that is responsible. This is a time for us to remember our loved ones and cherish the memories we have of them.”
A friend, Jordan Crofter, described Boik as someone who “didn’t hold anything back. He was just his own person.”
“He was a ball of joy. He was never sad or depressed. He wanted everybody to be happy,” Crofter told The Associated Press.
Crofter said Boik played baseball from when he was a child through his junior year in high school.
He said Boik and his girlfriend were the “perfect couple” and people expected them to get married.
“If he were still here, he’d try to make everyone have a positive outlook of the situation and not allow it to affect their outlook of life,” Crofter said.
Alex Sullivan, in a photo taken on his wedding day in 2011.
(Credit: Family photo)
Alex M. Sullivan
For Alex Matthew Sullivan, it was to be a weekend of fun: He planned to ring in his 27th birthday with friends at a special midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Another reason to celebrate: Sunday would have been his first wedding anniversary.
“He was a very, very good young man,” said Sullivan’s uncle, Joe Loewenguth.
“He always had a smile, always made you laugh. He had a little bit of comic in him. Witty, smart. He was loving, had a big heart.”
In a statement Alex’s family said it had lost “a cherished member.”
“Alex was smart, funny, and above all loved dearly by his friends and family. . . . Alex was a gentle giant, known and loved by so many. He always had a glowing smile on his face and he made friends with everyone. Alex enjoyed all sorts of movies, was an avid comic book geek and loved the New York Mets.”
Sullivan had a warm smile and an innocence that endeared him to people, said Shelly Fradkin, whose son Brian was good friends with Sullivan.
She sat next to a makeshift memorial Friday near the theater where an oversized birthday card with a photo of a smiling Sullivan was displayed.
“He’s amazing. He was just a big teddy bear. Great hugs,” she said.
She said Sullivan was such a big movie fan that he took jobs at theaters just to see movies.
Fradkin and her son spent an “excruciating” day trying to find Sullivan before learning of his death, she said.
“We’re shocked. We’re numb. We’re sick,” she said. “Our hearts are broken, and we’re crushed.”
Petty Officer Third Class John Thomas Larimer, of Crystal Lake, Ill.
John T. Larimer
Navy officials confirmed that Petty Officer Third Class John Thomas Larimer, of Crystal Lake, Ill., died from injuries sustained when a gunman opened fire in the theater early Friday morning.
Larimer, 27, joined the Navy in June 2011 and was a cryptologic technician third class. He had been stationed at the U.S. Fleet Cyber Command station at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora.
A fellow sailor from the unit was also injured in the shooting. He was treated at the scene and released.
“I am incredibly saddened by the loss of Petty Officer John Larimer,” said Cmdr. Jeffrey Jakuboski, Larimer’s commanding officer.
“He was an outstanding shipmate. A valued member of our Navy team, he will be missed by all who knew him.
A family member told the Daily Herald newspaper in Arlington Heights, Ill., that Larimer was the youngest of five siblings. Neighbors in his hometown recalled his sense of humor.
“We love you, John, and we will miss you always,” his parents said in a statement.
Jesse E. Childress
Jesse Childress was an Air Force cyber-systems operator based at Buckley Air Force Base, Colo.
Air Force Capt. Andrew Williams described the 29-year-old from Thornton, Colo., as knowledgeable, experienced and respectful. “We’re going to miss him incredibly,” he said.
Tech Sgt. Alejandro Sanchez, a co-worker, told the AP that Childress was his good friend and they were on a bowling team together.
“He would help anyone and always was great for our Air Force unit,” he said.
Another co-worker, Ashley Wassinger, said Childress “was a great person fun to be with, always positive and laughing.”
“Really just an amazing person, and I am so lucky to have been his friend,” she said.
Childress grew up in the southern California community of Palmdale.
William Grier told CBS Station KCAL, “He was like a brother to all of us, man. Color did not matter. He taught us all the same thing. We played in the front yard here. We played football here. We grew up here. We just hung out. This is just … so sad.
“He paused and added, “This is crazy, man.”
Erik Plascencia remembered his friend for being incredibly smart. “He was a really nice kid. He was probably the first one any of us would go to for advice. A really smart kid.”
A blogger who recently wrote of surviving a Toronto shooting, Jessica Ghawi (also known as Jessica Redfield) was among those killed in Aurora. Her death came as a “complete and utter shock,” said her brother, Jordan Ghawi.
Ghawi, 24, moved to Denver from Texas about a year ago and talked of a career as a sports reporter. Friends and colleagues described her as outgoing, smart and witty. “She was always kind of a sponge as far as how she could be an even better journalist and sports broadcaster,” said Peter Burns, a radio sports show host with Mile High Sports Radio in Denver, where Ghawi recently interned.
Ghawi blogged at length about surviving the Eaton Centre mall shooting in Toronto that killed two people and sent several others to the hospital. She wrote of the Toronto shooting: “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. 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.”
Yet, Burns said, Jessica Ghawi seemed more enlivened than intimidated by surviving that shooting.
Jordan Ghawi said on his website that a man who was with his sister at the theater described the chaos, saying he and Jessica Ghawi dropped to take cover when the gunman first started shooting. Jessica Ghawi was shot in the leg, her brother wrote, describing details relayed to him by a man identified on the blog only as a mutual friend named Brent.
Jessica Ghawi began screaming when she was shot, and the friend tried to calm her and stop the bleeding, according to the brother. The man was then shot, but he continued attending to Jessica’s wound before he realized she had stopped screaming.
The friend escaped the theater but is expected to survive. Jordan Ghawi praised the man, calling his actions “nothing but heroic.”
Photo of Matt McQuinn provided by his family
Matt McQuinn was with his girlfriend, Samantha Yowler, and her brother Nick at the midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” when a gunman burst into the theater, released canisters of pepper spray and opened fire.
CBS Affiliate WHIO reports that, according to Samantha’s grandmother, McQuinn and Nick Yowler tried to shield the young woman with their bodies.
She suffered a bullet wound to the leg; Nick escaped physically unharmed.
But McQuinn, 27, died.
“Unfortunately, Matt McQuinn perished from the injuries he sustained during the tragic events that unfolded in Denver, Colorado, and went home to be with his maker,” Rob Scott, an Ohio attorney retained by the families of McQuinn and Yowler, said in a statement.
“As both families mourn the loss of Matt, they ask for everyone to give them distance and time. Again, the families thank everyone for their love, prayers and ask that we respect their families’ wishes.”
Yowler was recovering from surgery after she was shot in the knee at the theater.
McQuinn and Yowler had met in Ohio and moved last year to Denver, where they worked at a Target store.
“They’re really fun people,” said co-worker Melissa Downen.
Veronica Moser Sullivan
(Credit: CBS News/Sullivan Family)
Ashley Moser drifted in and out of consciousness in the ICU, bullets lodged in her throat and abdomen.
In her waking moments, she called for her 6-year-old daughter Veronica. Nobody had the heart to tell her that Veronica was already dead.
“Nobody can tell her about it,” Annie Dalton said of her cousin, Ashley Moser. “She is in critical condition, but all she’s asking about is her daughter.”
Veronica was to start learning swimming lessons on Tuesday, Dalton said.
“She was excited about life as she should be. She’s a 6-year-old girl,” her great-aunt said
Her mother Ashley, 25, and 10 others were in critical condition as of Friday night.
Jon Blunk, with Jansen Young.
Jonathan Blunk had high hopes for the future, with plans to re-enlist in the Navy and the goal of becoming a Navy SEAL.
The 26-year-old served three tours in the Persian Gulf and North Arabian Sea between 2004 and 2009, said close friend James Gill of Brighton, Colo.
“It was guts or glory for him,” Gill told The Associated Press. “It always surprised me that he didn’t serve in a situation more on the front line. He wanted to be a first responder on the front line.”
Blunk was also a certified firefighter and emergency medical technician, Gill added.
He died in the shooting Friday after throwing himself in front of friend Jansen Young and saving her life, she told the Today Show. He told her to stay down.
“That’s something he would do,” Gill said. “If he was going to choose a way to die, that’s how he wanted to go — defending someone from a (person) like that.”
Blunk, a 2004 graduate of Reno’s Hug High School in Nevada, most recently worked at a hardware store.
His estranged wife, Chantel Blunk, lives with their 4-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son in Sparks, Nev.
The death of 23-year-old Micayla Medek was heartbreaking, said her father’s cousin, Anita Busch.
But Busch said the news also was a relief for the family after an agonizing day of waiting.
“I hope this evil act … doesn’t shake people’s faith in God,” she said.
Micayla Medek lived in the Denver suburb of Westminster and attended Aurora Community College.
Her aunt, Jenny Zakovich, 57, of South Milwaukee, Wis., said Medek and her father were both huge Green Bay Packers fans.
In a Facebook posting the father of Rebecca Ann Wingo, 32, confirmed that his daughter died in the Aurora shooting.
“I lost my daughter yesterday to a mad man,” Steve Hernandez wrote. “My grief right now is inconsolable. I hear she died instantly, without pain, however the pain is unbearable.”
Wingo had been an employee at Joe’s Crab Shack and had started a job several months ago as a customer relations representative at a mobile medical imaging company.
She was working towards an associate of arts degree at the Community College of Aurora.
Gail Riffle, a friend of Wingo’s, told the Denver Post, “Everybody is hurting right now. She was a gentle, sweet, beautiful soul.”
Shannon Dominguez, who worked with Wingo on weekends, said she was friendly with everyone and always seemed to be in a good mood.
“I didn’t really know her well but she had a really bubbly personality,” Dominguez said. “She was a pretty happy person. She just never really seemed … like with work, she never got irritated. She was pretty happy to be here.”
(Credit: Family Photo/KCNC)
Gordon Cowden loved life and his family, and he had gone to the midnight movie premiere with his two teenage children.
At 51, he was the oldest of the victims killed in the shooting. He lived in Aurora, but was described as a “true Texas gentleman” in a family statement. He loved the outdoors and owned his own business.
“A quick witted world traveler with a keen sense of humor, he will be remembered for his devotion to his children and for always trying his best to do the right thing, no matter the obstacle,” his family said.
His teenage children escaped the shooting unharmed.
His family declined to be interviewed in their request for privacy, but expressed appreciation for words of concern offered in the wake of the shooting.
“Our hearts go out to everyone that has been harmed by this senseless tragedy,” they said.
Alexander C. Teves, 24, of Phoenix, earned master’s degree in counseling psychology in June from University of Denver. His aunt, Barbara Slivinske, told CBS affiliate KPHO Phoenix: “Alex was a very wonderful, kind, caring person. He had a great sense of humor. At one point he grew his hair 10 or 12 inches long so that he could cut it off and donate it to locks of love.”
Slivinske also told KPHO that Teves was with his girlfriend at the theater in Aurora when the shooting happened: “He pushed her, his girlfriend down, so that she would be safe and he was getting to the ground but the shots got him before he got to the ground.”
He was a lovable person who made friends quickly and had a lot of them, said his grandfather, Carlo Iacovelli of Barnegat, N.J.
As a boy, Teves moved from New Jersey to Phoenix with his parents. Iacovelli and his wife wintered there and spent a lot of time with him.
“He was what you might call an ideal grandson,” Iacovelli said. “He was a fun guy. He loved to eat.”
Teves was planning to become a psychiatrist, his grandfather said.
“He had a lot to look forward to,” Iacovelli said.
The following is an incomplete list of those who were injured from the shooting:
Larry Lowak, Jr.
Amanda Lynn Medek
Bonnie Kate Pourciau
Happy days are not here again for the folks in Happy Valley. The statue of the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno has been removed from outside the campus’ stadium ahead of what is expected to be “unprecedented” penalties to be levied against the University by the NCAA tomorrow. The 900-pound bronze statue is being stored in a “secure location,” according to a statement from Penn State President Rodney Erickson. The tribute to Paterno had become an object of contention after the child rape scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
However, Paterno’s family said they believe taking down the statue serves no purpose. “Tearing down the statue of Joe Paterno does not serve the victims of Jerry Sandusky’s horrible crimes or help heal the Penn State community. We believe the only way to help the victims is to uncover the full truth,” the family said in a statement. “It is not the university’s responsibility to defend or protect Joe Paterno. But they at least should have acknowledged that important legal cases are still pending and that the record on Joe Paterno, the board and other key players is far from complete,” it added. Paterno’s statue and legacy came under fire after the release of the Freeh Report, the scathing investigation into the Sandusky scandal led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh.
The report found several Penn State officials concealed evidence that Sandusky had sexually abused minors. Freeh concluded that Paterno could have prevented further sexual abuse had he taken action. “I now believe that, contrary to its original intention, coach Paterno’s statue has become a source of division and an obstacle to healing in our university and beyond,” Erickson said. “I believe that, were it to remain, the statue will be a recurring wound to the multitude of individuals across the nation and beyond who have been the victims of child abuse,” he added.
On Sunday, Penn State employees began placing fencing around the statue, as well as a tarp. Local and university police were at the scene, and some students have gathered near the football field, Beaver Stadium. Another tribute to Paterno — the university library that bears his name — will remain as it is, Erickson said. “The library remains a tribute to Joe and Sue Paterno’s commitment to Penn State’s student body and academic success, and it highlights the positive impacts coach Paterno had on the university,” he wrote.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) called Paterno “a powerful man who acted selfishly” who “deserves no public honors whatsoever.” “We’re glad the statue is gone but that’s just a tiny step forward,” SNAP spokesman David Clohessy said in a statement. “We as a society must learn that a good way to deter child sex cover-ups is to punish, not praise, those who instigate such cover-ups.” The NCAA will announce what a high-ranking association source called “unprecedented” penalties against both the Penn State University football team and the school.
NCAA President Mark Emmert will make the announcement Monday morning at 9 a.m. at the organization’s headquarters in Indianapolis. The penalties come in the wake of the independent report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh that chronicled repeated efforts by four top Penn State officials, including former football coach Joe Paterno, to conceal allegations of serial child sex abuse by Jerry Sandusky over a 14-year period. The NCAA had been awaiting the school’s response to four key questions pertaining to the sex abuse scandal, including issues involving institutional control and ethics.
Sandusky, 68, was convicted in late June of 45 of the 48 sexual abuse counts he faced, involving 10 victims. He will be sentenced in September. Sandusky’s legal team has said it will appeal the convictions. Two former university administrators are awaiting trial for their role in the scandal, and more charges are possible as the state’s attorney general investigates what Penn State may have known about Sandusky’s behavior. The reality of what happened in the showers and locker rooms at Penn State is sickening and disgusting. It is a travesty no matter how you look at it and it is clear…abundantly clear…that Paterno and other snakes at Penn State knew what was going on and not only failed to stop it but did absolutely nothing to prevent it. It will certainly hurt everyone associated with Penn State and it should because what happened was an institutional failure on so many levels that celebrating Paterno or its fabled football program is just wrong.