In the blink of an eye

Published 10:14 am Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Why, why, why?

That one word is on the lips of people across the globe as shockwaves still ripple in the aftermath of the latest mass murder in world history.

The dead from the Aurora, Colorado shooting at a movie theatre include Jonathan Blunk, a Navy man who served three tours of duty overseas. He was shot to death while using his body to shield a friend. Fellow Navy man John Larimer, 27, was also killed in the shooting rampage.

Alexander J. Boik, an 18-year-old who recently graduated from high school, will not enjoy his dream of attending college.

Jesse Childress, 29, was stationed at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora. His night out on the town Friday was his last.

At age 51, Gordon Cowden was the oldest victim. He attended the midnight movie premiere with his two teenage children, neither of which was injured.

For 24-year-old Jessica Ghawi, being near chaos seemed to follow her life. She was among the survivors of a June 2 shooting at a mall in Toronto. She wasn’t as lucky on Friday in Colorado.

Matt McQuinn, 27, dove in front of his girlfriend and her brother when gunfire erupted. He died, they survived.

At age 23, Micayla Medek was juggling college classes around a job. She was out with 10 friends on Friday, a group that decided to go see the latest Batman movie. Her friends lived to see another day, Micayla did not.

Six-year-old Veronica Moser-Sullivan was the youngest victim. Her mother was critically injured and remains hospitalized. No one has the heart as of yet to inform her of her daughter’s fate.

Alex Sullivan loved movies. He was at the theatre on Friday, celebrating his 27th birthday by fulfilling his passion for the big screen. Unfortunately for Alex there will be no more birthdays to celebrate.

Alexander C. Teves, 24, just recently obtained his Master’s degree….an advanced education that he will not have the opportunity to put to use thanks to a deranged killer.

Rebecca Ann Wingo, 32, had just started a new job in customer relations for a medical company. That fresh new start on life ended in the blink of an eye.

So what possessed a heavily armed James Holmes to burst inside the Century 16 cinema approximately one-half hour into the Friday premiere of The Dark Night Rises and open fire on a packed house? What mental anguish was he experiencing and if that emotion did exist, why did he choose to inflict pain on innocent people? Why that particular group? Why that particular theatre? Why that particular night?

According to news reports, this guy had no prior criminal record. He graduated, with honors, in 2010 with a neuroscience degree from the University of California at Riverside.

But something had to be ticking deep inside this 24-year-old man. Whatever it was, that pain, that anguish had been there for a while as it took some time for Holmes to collect in excess of $15,000 worth of guns and ammo. He also took the time to booby trap his apartment with a maze of traps and bombs, apparently targeting police officers that he knew would search his residence following his arrest.

This case is deep, very deep. Adding to that is the fact that Holmes referred to himself as “The Joker” (a character in the Batman series) upon his arrest.

Perhaps we’ll find out more about James Holmes as the investigation continues.

Meanwhile, people around the planet will add a movie theatre to the list of public places where the unknown exists – much like commercial jets and high-rise buildings after 9-11; college campuses thanks to a deranged Virginia Tech student who gunned down 32 of his peers in April 2007; or a popular tourist site such as Port Arthur in Australia where a 1996 mass shooting killed 35 innocent people.

What location is next?


Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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