The victims of a deadly shooting rampage during a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises included a military veteran and a 6-year-old girl. There also was an aspiring sports journalist and a man one day from his first wedding anniversary. Another gave his life saving his girlfriend and her brother. Here are their stories:
Jonathan Blunk had high hopes for the future, with plans to re-enlist in the Navy and the goal of becoming a Navy SEAL.
The 26-year-old served three tours in the Persian Gulf and North Arabian Sea between 2004 and 2009, said close friend James Gill of Brighton, Colo.
“It was guts or glory for him,” Mr. Gill told The Associated Press. “It always surprised me that he didn't serve in a situation more on the front line. He wanted to be a first responder on the front line.”
Mr. Blunk was also a certified firefighter and emergency medical technician, Mr. Gill added.
He died in the shooting Friday after throwing himself in front of friend Jansen Young and saving her life, she told the Today Show. He told her to stay down.
“That's something he would do,” Mr. Gill said. “If he was going to choose a way to die, that's how he wanted to go — defending someone from a (person) like that.”
Mr. Blunk, a 2004 graduate of Reno's Hug High School in Nevada, most recently worked at a hardware store.
His estranged wife, Chantel Blunk, lives with their 4-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son in Sparks, Nev.
Alexander J. Boik
Alexander J. Boik, known as AJ, recently graduated from high school and was to start classes at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in the fall, The Denver Post reported.
The family said in a statement that the 18-year-old was loved by all who knew him and was dating “a beautiful young lady” who was with him at the theater and survived. “We want to try and focus on the beautiful lives that were ended and not the evil that is responsible,” the family said.
A friend, Jordan Crofter, described Mr. Boik as someone who “didn't hold anything back. He was just his own person.”
“He was a ball of joy. He was never sad or depressed. He wanted everybody to be happy,” Mr. Crofter told The Associated Press.
Mr. Crofter said Boik played baseball from when he was a child through his junior year in high school.
He said Mr. Boik and his girlfriend were the “perfect couple” and people expected them to get married.
“If he were still here, he'd try to make everyone have a positive outlook of the situation and not allow it to affect their outlook of life,” Mr. Crofter said.
Jesse Childress was an Air Force cyber-systems operator based at Buckley Air Force Base, Colo.
Air Force Captain Andrew Williams described the 29-year-old from Thornton, Colo., as knowledgeable, experienced and respectful. “We're going to miss him incredibly,” he said.
Tech Sergeant Alejandro Sanchez, a co-worker, told the AP that Mr. Childress was his good friend and they were on a bowling team together.
“He would help anyone and always was great for our Air Force unit,” he said.
Another co-worker, Ashley Wassinger, said Childress “was a great person fun to be with, always positive and laughing.”
“Really just an amazing person, and I am so lucky to have been his friend,” she said.
Gordon Cowden loved life and his family, and he had gone to the midnight movie premiere with his two teenage children.
At 51, he was the oldest of the victims killed in the shooting. He lived in Aurora, but was described as a “true Texas gentleman” in a family statement. He loved the outdoors and owned his own business.
“A quick witted world traveler with a keen sense of humor, he will be remembered for his devotion to his children and for always trying his best to do the right thing, no matter the obstacle,” his family said.
His teenage children escaped the shooting unharmed.