Houston survivor of Colorado movie theater massacre recalls ‘pandemonium’

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by khou.com staff

khou.com

Posted on July 23, 2012 at 10:25 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 24 at 2:18 PM

HOUSTON -- A Houston man who survived a mass shooting inside a movie theater in Colorado last week says he no longer sweats the small stuff.

The shooting left 12 people dead, and 58 others injured, during a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.”

James Holmes, 24, who recently quit a Ph.D. program in neuroscience, was being held on suspicion of first-degree murder, and could also face additional counts of aggravated assault and weapons violations.

“I was approximately 10 feet away when he came in and started opening fire,” Omar Esparza said.

The Houston native was visiting a friend in Colorado who was celebrating her birthday. He was sitting in the third row when the shooting broke out.

Esparza summed up his experience with one word: pandemonium.

“Everything went crazy.  Everything became extremely chaotic. And he started shooting at people who were trying to exit.  There were bodies. There was blood. It was absolutely horrifying,” he said.

Esparza said he and his five friends hit the floor and tried to crawl to an exit.

“I realized I couldn’t just stay there hidden. I had to try to move. There were people that were sort of frozen and didn’t want to move at all.  They were scared, and rightly so,” he said.  “When he switched guns, that’s when it jammed, that’s when they left, and we quickly followed.  So you heard some silence and you made a break for it.  Yes. I realized that was the only chance I had.”

Esparza, a college sophomore majoring in philosophy, is more philosophical than ever before because of the experience.

“All of the small nuisances of life that get on your nerves exit your periphery,” he said.

 

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