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Family and friends mourn Colorado shooting

Sunday, July 22, 2012    

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AURORA, Colorado (AP) — Ashley Moser slipped in and out of consciousness following the massacre inside of the Colorado movie theatre, bullets lodged in her throat and abdomen. In her waking moments in the ICU, she called for her six-year-old daughter Veronica.

Nobody had the heart to tell her that Veronica was already dead, the youngest victim killed at a Colorado movie theatre in one of the worst mass shootings in US history.

"Nobody can tell her about it," Annie Dalton said of her niece, Ashley Moser. "She is in critical condition, but all she's asking about is her daughter."

Veronica just started swimming lessons on Tuesday, Dalton said.

"She was excited about life as she should be. She's a six-year-old girl," her great-aunt said.

The young girl was among the 12 people killed when a gunman barged into a crowded Colorado theatre, set off gas canisters and opened fire as spectators dove for cover. Dozens of others were injured, including the 25-year-old Ashley Moser and 10 others in critical condition as of Friday night.

The victims' identities have emerged one by one after authorities told their families of their deaths. By yesterday afternoon, relatives, employers and family spokesmen had confirmed the identities of seven of those who died.

One is 27-year-old Matt McQuinn. His family's attorney, Rob Scott of Dayton, Ohio, said McQuinn was killed after diving in front of his girlfriend and her older brother to shield them from the gunfire. Scott's account could not be immediately verified.

For Alex Sullivan, it was to be a weekend of fun: He planned to ring in his 27th birthday with friends at the special midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises and then celebrate his first wedding anniversary on today.

Late Friday, Sullivan's family confirmed that police told them he was among those killed.

"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."

Micayla Medek, 23, was also among the dead, her father's cousin, Anita Busch, told The Associated Press.

Busch said the news, while heartbreaking, was a relief for the family after an agonising day of waiting for news.

"I hope this evil act... doesn't shake people's faith in God," she said.

Yesterday morning, parents of John Larimer released a statement that Navy officials notified them about midnight that their 27-year-old son was one of the 12 killed.

The family said that Larimer's brother is working with the Navy to take his body home to Crystal Lake, Ill. He was with a unit that belongs to US Fleet Cyber Command/US Tenth Fleet at Buckley Air Force.

An Air Force reservist who worked at Buckley also was among the victims killed. Sergeant Jesse Childress, 29, was a cyber-systems operator, the Air Force said in a statement. Another reservist was treated and released after also being wounded in the shootings.

A blogger and aspiring sports reporter who recently wrote of surviving a Toronto shooting was killed, the woman's brother said.

The death of Jessica Ghawi, who was also known as Jessica Redfield, was a "complete and utter shock," said her brother, Jordan Ghawi.

He has been using his blog and Twitter account to update what he knew about his sister's condition. He also appeared on the NBC Today show.

Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said Friday evening that 10 victims died at the theatre and two others later died from their injuries.

Jordan Ghawi said on his website that a man who was with his sister at the theatre 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.

The man was then shot, but he continued attending to Jessica Ghawi's wound before he realised she had stopped screaming, Jordan Ghawi stated. The man said Jessica Ghawi had been shot in the head.

Jessica Ghawi, 24, moved to Denver from Texas about a year ago and friends and colleagues described her as outgoing, smart and witty.

Ghawi blogged at length about surviving the Eaton Centre mall shooting in Toronto that killed two people and sent several others to the hospital.

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