'I saw little kids die' – eyewitness accounts of Colorado massacre

A distraught woman is counseled by Pastor Quincy Shannon(L) of the New Hope Fellowship and an unidentified advocate in front of Gateway High School in Aurora, Colorado where the families of the missing are meeting following the shooting at the Century 16 movie theater on July 20, 2012 (AFP Photo / Jonathan Castner)
Mayor Steve Hogan and US President Barack Obama have already spoken about the shooting in Aurora, Colorado Friday morning that left at least 12 people dead. Those on the scene that barely escaped with their lives are now coming forth as well.

“[I]t was just a big riffle and he was just shooing and he had big bullets too,” Jennifer Seeger, who was at the AMC Cinema to see Batman: The Dark Knight Rises, recalls. She says that the entire room smelled of gun powder and that the suspect had exploded canisters of a tear-gas-like substance as well.

“I was having hard breathing and I was, like, if we are not going to get out of here, I`m going to suffocate,” she says.

Seeger was more than lucky to leave the theater alive. She adds that the shooter pointed the gun directly at my face.”

“I was just terrified and I just jumped in and just start crying,” she says. “He was standing 4 or 5 feet from me.”

“He was just put up the gun and started doing it, shooting, at least is like 4 or 5 rounds,” moviegoer Meesha Mostarshary adds, “and then he did it with the other gun.”

Others — at least 12 — weren’t as lucky as the survivors. By Friday afternoon, the Aurora Police Department confirmed one dozen deaths and at least 58 injuries from the incident. Inside the theatre as the events unfolded, witnesses say the scene was something absolutely unimaginable.

“I saw, like, [a] 14-year-old girl on the stairs and she was dead, it was just like the most tragic scene I have ever seen,” Seeger says. “Everybody who was trying to the opposite side boom, shot.”

“I saw . . . little kids die, mums die, people who were hurt, people who I didn`t save because I was trying to save myself.”

Seeger, along with many other theatergoers, says she originally thought that the outburst was part of the performance. Only when the suspect opened fire, though, did she realize that the incident was not part of the screening

“When I came in, you know, he was dressed up…some of the people who are getting into it, so I just thought he was a part of the show throwing gas, throwing smoke, just to show some effect,” she says, “and when he start shooting guns I knew at that point nobody would let somebody shoot a gun…”

Authorities have since confirmed that the suspect was wearing an extensive body suit and armor when he opened fire.

Seeger adds that many children were donned in Batman shirts and other costumes, but the suspect “looked like some guy from a military,” and “didn`t like a normal kid would be dressed up for this movie.”

Arson Avy was also in the theatre and, like hundreds of others, was caught off guard by the massacre. Fist, Avy recalls, the shooter threw a canister into the crowd.

“I got up and I saw he started to reload the gun so I realized we had to get out,” Avy adds. “When we went down the stairs, one guy was completely covered in blood, people were trying to help others. I saw couple of bodies in front of the stairs and when I get outside everybody screaming, like, 'I`m shot, I need help.' It was crazy.”

“[It] looked like he was shooting in the air but he was really shooting at people at the top, trying to exit that way,” Avy adds. “I think at first his main aim was just to scare people. I heard behind all the screaming, then the tear gas explode I just heard like get down, get down…When the explosion happen we start firing people and everyone was like keep your heads down.”

Another witness, Silvana Gurlan, says that trying to escape was perhaps the hardest part.

“At first I was so scared — I didn`t know what to do so we just hide under the seats. And you don`t want to move because you not sure if he is going to be right above you and shoot you in the back.”

“The hardest part was getting up and moving, leaving, just getting up and doing something about it and as soon as I saw him I turned around I grabbed her and we run…as fast as we could…run until we saw people,” Gurlan recalls.