Three of the 12 victims of the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado died while protecting their loved ones from harm.
Jon Blunk, Matt McQuinn and Alex Teves each died while shielding their loved ones from James Holmes, a shooter who killed or injured 70 people in an early-morning massacre.
“He Never Made It”
Teves, 24, threw his girlfriend, Amanda Lindgren, to the floor when Holmes began shooting. Holmes shot and killed Teves before he too could reach cover.
“He pushed her to the floor to save her and he ended up getting a bullet,” said Teves’ aunt, Barbara Slivinske, to the New York Daily News. “He was gonna hit the floor himself, but he never made it.”
Teves had recently graduated from the University of Denver with a master’s degree in counseling psychology. One of his advisors, Dr. Mary Gomez, said in a statement that Teves “was a compassionate and kind person with a great sense of humor who put a positive outlook on all situations. Most importantly, his top priority was his relationships. His loyalty is admirable and he always put his friends first.”
“What’s Best About Us”
McQuinn, 27, shielded his girlfriend, Samantha Yowler, as did Yowler’s older brother Nick. Holmes shot McQuinn three times, and he died at the scene. One bullet did strike Yowler in the knee, but she was otherwise uninjured. Nick Yowler was not shot.
“When the gunman started shooting, Matt and Nick pulled Samantha to the ground and shielded her,” said Rob Scott, the attorney representing the McQuinn and Yowler families, in a statement given to USA Today.
Scott called both men heroes.
“As Americans, we’re used to seeing that from our military, but not from private citizens,” Scott said. “What Matt did and Nick did certainly demonstrated what’s best about us.”
“Jon Just Took a Bullet For Me”
Blunk, 26, threw his girlfriend, Jansen Young, to the ground and told her to stay down as the shooting began.
“He knew and threw me on the ground, and was like, ‘We have to get down and stay down,’” Young said in an interview with Today.
She said that Blunk pushed her into cover. Though she may have been hit by shrapnel, she was otherwise uninjured.
Blunk was not as fortunate. “I guess I didn’t really know he had passed, up until I started shaking him and saying, ‘Jon, Jon we have to go,’” Young said.
Young was clear that Blunk had saved her life.
“Jon just took a bullet for me,” she said.
Other Heroes Abound
Heroism was not limited to those who sacrificed their lives. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper recounted multiple acts of heroics in an interview on Meet the Press. He told of one man who stayed to protect his son’s girlfriend, saying, “instead of running away he stays there and saves her life in the end, kept her from bleeding to death.”
Hickenlooper also credited a woman who used her own belt as a tourniquet to help keep one victim from bleeding to death.
Allie Young was saved by Stephanie Davies, who applied pressure to a neck wound in the wake of the massacre. And a 13-year-old girl tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to save the life of 6-year-old Veronica Moser-Sullivan, the youngest victim of the shooting.
While the incident in Aurora was yet another dark day, President Barack Obama, in a meeting with families on Sunday night, said that it was the heroism in the face of catastrophe that should be recognized.
“In the end, after [Holmes] has felt the full force of our justice system, what will be remembered are the good people who were impacted by this tragedy,” Obama said.
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