HOUSTON—A Houston-area woman says her sister was one of 50 people wounded in a mass shooting at a movie theater in Colorado. Twelve people were killed.
The shooting occurred in a packed theater early Friday in Aurora, about 10 miles east of Denver.
Police said shortly after midnight, a gunman wearing a gas mask stood in front of the screen with a rifle and a pistol, firing bullets into a crowd of moviegoers watching the new Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises."
The Houston woman's sister was shot twice during the attack.
"You just see someone walk through an exit and right away I thought, ‘Huh, that’s weird.’ And he threw something and it popped," the sister, Patricia, recalled. "He threw what we’re thinking was tear gas, and when he walked out the door and came back in, that’s when he started shooting."
Patricia, who was at the show with her boyfriend Jaime, 5-year-old daughter Azariah and 3-month-old son Ethan, said the little girl was sleeping next to her when the gunman opened fire. She immediately threw the child to the ground.
"I stood up to put her in front of me. When I did that was when I got hit," she said.
After dropping her little boy to the floor, she and her boyfriend grabbed the kids and ran.
"I just kept thinking to myself, ‘This is not where my kids are going to die. They’re not going to die here. We’re not going to die here. We have to get out,’" Patricia said.
The shooting victim's sister, Margaret Legarreta, who lives in the Willowbrook area, got the phone call a short time later.
"I get a phone call from my brother that my sister has been shot. And all I can think of is, ‘Is she alive? Where is she,’" Legarreta said.
She said the scene was described to her as utter chaos.
"There were people running all over the place. They heard popping sounds, and it was kind of like what the news was saying. They thought it was part of the movie, but it really wasn’t because people started screaming, and people were running all over the place. They were being evacuated, going out different exits and what not. So I don’t know how my sister’s boyfriend got her out, but they had gotten her, the baby, and my niece, who’s going to be turning five—they got them out somehow," she said.
Before the movie started, Patricia wanted to sit in the front seats of the theater, but her boyfriend wanted to sit in the back to get the "full effects" of the movie -- a decision that may have saved their lives.
The suspect was later tracked down and taken into custody. Aurora police have identified him as James Holmes, 24.
Patricia was at home in Colorado Friday afternoon, recovering from gunshot wounds to the thigh and calf. Her boyfriend and children were not injured.
Legarreta, meanwhile, was headed to Colorado to be with her family.
Elsewhere in Texas, a San Antonio woman was killed, and her friend was also injured in the shooting. She had recently moved from San Antonio to Colorado.
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