Aurora Colorado is a decent sized city, which butts up against Denver to the East and South, and in most part, it is an average city of 325,000 plus residents. The average age of 33.2 yrs. sets it as a younger wage earner community and caters to that age group. With several golf courses and 24hr, fitness centers a dozen or more coffee shops, an abundance of k-12 schools, an adequate number of hospitals, and a police department that could be larger but adequate. Crime is not going rampantly out of control, but Aurora has its share of murders; 7.1 per 100,000 residents; and three of the three death row inmates in Colorado, are from Aurora.
In all accounts, Aurora Colorado is a tame community situated just a stone’s throw from the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, which provide a grand vista of snow capped mountains and foothills giving way to the prairie where it starts its Eastward journey to the Midwest; to be fair, it sounds like many peaceful Colorado communities.
Yet, in the early morning hours of July 20, 2012 and just into the midnight screening of the new Batman film, a man dressed in tactical body armor and a gas mask tossed 2 canisters, presumably tear gas, into a crowded theater auditorium, then, allegedly, opened fire with a semi-automatic assault rifle, bringing chaos and carnage to the scene.
This brought a slumbering Aurora to full disbelief and for those who had loved ones, at the movie event went racing to the crime scene. Along with the city police, county sheriff, FBI, and state police, ambulances, and the fire department. The police quickly captured their suspect, who seemingly was waiting for them to arrive, and simply standing by his car, parked near the rear entrance of the auditorium.
But this tranquil scene of capture would not compare to the carnage just inside the door, there would be first responders trying to secure and preserve the scene, while hundreds of movie goers would be attempting to get as far away as possible, some wounded, some just traumatized over the ordeal of just moments before. Fire fighters, paramedics, and police trying to locate all the wounded, and preserving the scene as a crime scene in the midst of chaos can be a difficult task.
The press meanwhile was adding to the chaos with each newsperson and camera team trying to be the first to get an interview with the authorities, the first question would be what happened or why did this happen? The coverage has been overwhelming, coverage of the carnage that is, not the coverage over the individuals who acted on personal values and love for their neighbor.
As did one African American young man, from all accounts not even out of his teens, who helped a wounded white mother and her small children to safety, even though he was shot in the thigh himself. Those stories were rarely reported for the first few days, unlike the blood and guts of the mayhem, or the second-guessing of the shooter’s mental status in hopes they may be fortunate and guess why he did it.
The reason of why may never really be understood, and perhaps that is the frustration that attracts the news media to the dung-pile; like blue-tail flies to spilled molasses. There are far too many stories that give us a better picture of what happened, and they are coming from the victims.
The drilling of the police spokesperson for answers to questions that he cannot and should not answer during the investigation, which leaves everyone wondering more about what went on, and frustrated over who is telling what story, and how true is the story or even if the story had to be manufactured.
Yet, it will not be long before the focus of a nation will no longer be on Aurora, Colorado, that is until the trail of a lunatic begins. Until then, this not so small, not so innocent Rocky Mountain town will return to its routine, where the residents will be more concerned about school, fighting the commute to work, and what’s for supper, or should we take in the special midnight showing of a film at the Century 16 theater complex tonight?
Nonetheless, when the sun sinks behind the snowcapped vista of the Front Range, how soon will the media let Aurora get back to being itself, when will the media let the wounds heal, and the legal process provide closure to the families who lost loved ones. Every time they ask a question, especially “how do you feel about what is happening?” It is one more time that they have to relive the horrific event, as individuals and a city trying to get on with their lives. However, the media will always sensationalize a tragedy and squeeze out every drop it can, regardless of who or what someone may feel. Oh, this one is not any different, as they may say, not until another, fresher, story comes along.
Thanks R.S. Helms