SAN ANTONIO -- Jessica Ghawi was a redheaded spitfire who described herself in her Twitter bio as: "Southern.Sarcastic.Sass.Class.Crass."
The young woman from San Antonio was among the victims killed in a mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater early Friday morning, family members confirm.
Ghawi, an aspiring sports journalist, had recently moved to Denver where she was working as an intern. She was dating a hockey player and loved to attend Avalanche games.
Friends and colleagues remember her as hard-working and fun-loving.
Ghawi was attending the premiere of the latest Batman movie with longtime friend and former boyfriend Brent Lowak, who was visiting from Bulverde, Texas.
She tweeted Thursday about winning an argument with Lowak, who didn't want to see the late movie.
"Never thought I’d have to coerce a guy into seeing the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises with me," Ghawi's tweet said.
Her final tweet read: "Movie doesn’t start for 20 minutes."
Within an hour, James Holmes had opened fire inside the theater. Ghawi and 11 others were dead, 59 people were wounded.
Lowak’s father told KENS-5, our sister station in San Antonio, that his son was shot once in the left buttocks while crawling away from the gunfire.
He said his son underwent surgery Friday morning to have the bullet removed. Surgeons also removed shrapnel his shoulder. Lowak said his son is expected to survive, but that doctors were having trouble stopping the bleeding and are concerned about permanent damage.
Gwahi’s brother, Jordan, wrote in his blog Friday morning that he received an hysterical call from his mother stating that his sister had been shot. He immediately called Brent Lowak, who he described as a mutual friend. This is an excerpt from Gwahi's blog:
"Jessica and Brent were seated in the middle portion of the theatre when a device was thrown into the theatre that produced a "hissing" sound. The theatre than began to fill with smoke which is when patrons began to move from their seats. At that time, shots were fired. Brent and Jessica immediately dropped to a prone position for cover. Jessica advised multiple times for someone to call 911, which Brent immediately attempted to do. Brent then heard Jessica scream and noticed that she was struck by a round in the leg. Brent began holding pressure on the wound and attempted to calm Jessica. It was at this time that Brent took a round to his lower extremities. While still administering first aid, Brent noticed that Jessica was no longer screaming. He advised that he looked over to Jessica and saw what appeared to be an entry wound to her head. He further stated that Jessica presented with agonal respirations. Brent then took what may have been his only chance to escape the line of fire and exited the structure where he then contacted my mother. Brent’s actions are nothing but heroic."
Jordan Ghawi later learned his sister had died from injuries suffered in the shooting. He called the news a "complete and utter shock."
Trajedy in Toronto
Jessica Gwahi recently shared a chilling account in her own blog of how she narrowly escaped the Toronoto mall shooting in early June.
One man was killed and seven people were injured.
Ghawi wrote that she was at the mall to shop and get some sushi. She changed her mind and had a burger, then left after experiencing a "panicky feeling."
Minutes later, gunshots rang out inside the food court. Police, firefighters and paramedics flooded the mall. Gwahi was stunned.
"Had I had sushi, I would’ve been in the same place where one of the victims was found," she wrote.
Gwahi said her receipt showed that she purchased her burger at 6:20 p.m.
"The gunshots rung out at 6:23. Had I not gone outside, I would’ve been in the midst of gunfire," wrote Ghawi.
The close brush with death inspired this late-night reflection:
"I say all the time that every moment we have to live our life is a blessing," Ghawi wrote. "So often I have found myself taking it for granted. Every hug from a family member. Every laugh we share with friends. Even the times of solitude are all blessings. Every second of every day is a gift. After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given."
Jessica Ghawi was 24 years old, the same age as the man accused of killing her.