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Posts tagged ‘Aurora’

Prosecutors argue for access to Holmes’ notebook.


  • Colorado shooting suspect James Eagan Holmes makes his first court appearance in Aurora, Colorado in this file photo taken July 23, 2012.  Accused Colorado gunman James Holmes had conversations with a classmate in March about wanting to kill people, four months before the suburban Denver rampage in which he is accused of shooting dead 12 moviegoers, a court document showed on Friday.  REUTERS/RJ Sangosti/Pool/Files   (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW)Enlarge PhotoReuters/REUTERS – Colorado shooting suspect James Eagan Holmes makes his first court appearance in Aurora, Colorado in this file photo taken July 23, 2012. Accused Colorado gunman James Holmes had conversations …more 

DENVER (AP) — The lead police investigator in the Colorado theater shooting is expected to take the stand Thursday as prosecutors make their case for why they should have access to a notebook sent by the suspect to a university psychiatrist that purportedly contains descriptions of a violent attack.

Prosecutors on Aug. 30 suffered a setback in obtaining the notebook when Arapahoe County District Judge William B. Sylvester ruled that they could not disprove a doctor-patient relationship between suspect James Holmes and University of Colorado psychiatrist Lynne Fenton. He scheduled Thursday’s hearing to take up the issue again.

Defense attorneys said Holmes is mentally ill and sought Fenton’s help. Sylvester rejected prosecutor arguments that a doctor-patient relationship ended June 11, the last time Fenton saw Holmes. Holmes has been charged with 142 counts, including murder and attempted murder, stemming from the July 20 attack at an Aurora theater that killed 12 and wounded 58 others.

A court document indicated Wednesday that prosecutors are seeking now to add 10 more counts against Holmes and amend 17 others, but it didn’t disclose details and a judge has issued a gag order limiting what information lawyers can publicly disclose in the case.

In their quest to obtain Holmes’ notebook, prosecutors are arguing that it and its contents are fair game because Holmes wasn’t going to be undergoing therapy because he planned to be dead or in prison after the shooting rampage at an opening night showing of “The Dark Night Rises.”

At last month’s hearing, Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Pearson didn’t explain that but pointed to a dating site on which Holmes asked if he would be visited in prison.

Deputy District Attorney Rich Orman told Sylvester that Aurora police major crimes detective Craig Appel, the lead investigator, and detective Tom Welton, an investigator in the case, would testify Thursday.

Orman said in court that Appel will testify that Holmes bought a ticket at the theater, took a seat, then walked out of an emergency exit, propping the door open so he could come back and start shooting. Orman said Welton will testify that it was Holmes who posted profiles on Match.com and AdultFriendFinder.com before the shooting with the tagline, “Will you visit me in prison?”

In the days following the shooting, bloggers posted profiles reportedly found on those sites showing the same prison comment accompanied by a picture of a man with orange hair who resembled Holmes. In one posting under the screen name, Classic_Jim, favorite movies listed include the Jim Carrey cult classic “Dumb and Dumber,” and “Star Wars, etc.”

As a possible motive, prosecutors suggest Holmes was angry at a failing academic career.

Holmes was a graduate student in the neuroscience program at the University of Colorado. Prosecutors said Holmes did poorly on a key exam and withdrew on June 10 while he was stockpiling guns, ammunition and body armor ahead of the shooting.

Holmes had also applied at graduate neuroscience programs at Iowa, University of Illinois, Texas A&M, Kansas, Michigan and Alabama.

Holmes was accepted at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign with an offer of free tuition and $22,000 a year. But Iowa rejected him with a “Do NOT offer admission under any circumstances” notation.

University of Alabama at Birmingham also rejected him with one professor noting that “he may be extremely smart, but difficult to engage.”

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By P. SOLOMON BANDA | Associated Press

Colo. theater victim families question fundraising.


  • Thomas Teves, right, kisses his wife Caren Teves, center, at a press conference by families of victims of the Colorado theater shooting, in Aurora, Colo., on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012. Thomas and Caren Teves lost their son Alexander Teves, 24, in the shooting. Families of some of the 12 people killed in the Colorado theater shooting are upset with the way the millions of dollars raised since the tragedy are being distributed.   (AP Photo/Chris Schneider)Enlarge GalleryThomas Teves, right, kisses his wife Caren Teves, center, at a press conference by families of victims of the Colorado theater shooting, in Aurora, Colo., on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012. Thomas and Caren Teves lost …more 

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AURORA, Colo. (AP) — Families of some of the 12 people killed in the Colorado theater shooting are upset with the way the millions of dollars raised since the tragedy are being distributed.

At an emotional news conference Tuesday in Aurora, group spokesman Tom Teves, whose son was killed, criticized fundraisers for not giving victims a voice in how the money is distributed, even though it was raised using the pictures and names of “our murdered loved ones.”

So far, just over $5 million has been raised and $450,000 distributed. Of that, $350,000 went to the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance in order to provide $5,000 each going to the families of 70 victims to meet their immediate financial needs. The other $100,000 has gone to 10 nonprofit groups, according to the Community First Foundation website.

With victims and their families crowded on the platform behind him, Teves accused fundraising groups of being unresponsive and unsympathetic to victims’ needs and also questioned the commitment of Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper to helping the victims, noting that the governor had attended the funerals of those who died in the shooting.

“You pledged 12 times, ‘We will remember.’ Are you a man of your words? Or were they just words?”

Hickenlooper was not immediately available for comment.

Some dabbed their eyes as Teves spoke. One man was using a cane with a splint up to his knee.

Teves said anyone in the theater or in the suspect’s apartment building who was affected by the “coward’s acts” should be eligible to receive help.

The suspect in the July 20 shooting, 24-year-old James Eagan Holmes, is charged with murder and attempted murder and two other counts.

Only a handful of family members of the slain victims have spoken publicly, and most of their comments came in the first few days after the shooting.

A spokeswoman for the Aurora Victim Relief Fund, Kim Stuart said the group expects to identify who will lead the group in the near future and determine how the money will be spent.

Marla J. Williams, president and CEO of the Community First Foundation, charged by Hickenlooper to operate relief fund, told KUSA-TV that the nonprofit organization had problems contacting victims and the committee plans to add a representative of the victims’ families. She said police secrecy and a court order sealing documents hampered efforts to help the families.

“In this case, there were some challenges in communication because of the gag order,” Williams said.

She didn’t immediately return a telephone call.

Police said Holmes was heavily armed and wearing body armor and a gas mask when he opened fire on the audience in a packed theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora during a showing of the latest Batman movie.

In addition to the 12 killed, 58 were injured.

Holmes is being held without bail and has not entered a plea. Defense lawyers have said he is mentally ill.

Holmes was a first-year Ph.D. student in a neuroscience program at the University of Colorado, Denver. He told university officials about six weeks before the shootings that he was withdrawing.

Prosecutors have said Holmes failed an oral board exam June 7, at about the same time he began buying weapons and ammunition.

Prosecutors are seeking the university’s records on Holmes and also want to see a notebook that Holmes reportedly sent to university psychiatrist Lynne Fenton. Fenton is expected to testify at a hearing Thursday.

Defense lawyers are fighting prosecution attempts to see the material.

Investigators, attorneys on both sides and the university have said little about the case outside court hearings, citing a gag order imposed by Arapahoe County District Judge William Sylvester.

Many court documents have been kept secret as well.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By DAN ELLIOTT | Associated Press

Colorado congressman: Movie theater shooting shows we need Obamacare.


Colorado Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter said during a Monday online town hall meeting that victims of the July 20 movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo.  “would be uninsurable” without President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

“[U]nder the Affordable Care Act they can’t be discriminated against starting in 2014.”

RevealingPolitics.com reproduced video of Perlmutter telling his constituents that Obamacare would “stop the discrimination against people with prior illnesses or injuries — or, say, some of the folks who were shot in the theater.”

Perlmutter also called for a renewal of the federal government’s 1996 assault weapons ban in the wake of the shooting. James Holmes, a 24-year-old former graduate student, has been charged with 24 counts of murder.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, another Democrat, has been more measured in his response to the Aurora tragedy.

“I think the discussions of ‘do we need stricter laws’ should probably wait until the families have grieved,” Hickenlooper said July 23, “and at least until we bury the people who we lost.”

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

The Daily CallerThe Daily Caller 

The Spirit of God Hovers Over Aurora Darkness.


colorado shooting
(BGEA)

Ginger Sanders couldn’t hold back her tears. Sharing stories from the first few days of ministry in Aurora, Colo., the seasoned Rapid Response Team Chaplain was overcome by emotion as she described how God was moving in this tragedy.

“His presence is here,” said Sanders through her sobs. “It’s almost similar to the description in Genesis 1:2 where ‘darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.’

“The Spirit of God is in Colorado, hovering over the darkness.”

After attending a memorial service at Gateway High School, Sanders said she and the other chaplains ministering in the grief-stricken area came back with a touch from the Lord. “This is very hard and very painful, yet He is showing His love in many ways, big and small.”

One example of that love came during the service. As Sanders stood toward the back of the crowd, a young lady approached her, leaned over and said, “I don’t know anyone here, I just needed to come.”

When Sanders turned around, the young lady—whose name is Shaya—smiled when she saw that she had just spoken to a Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplain. She then leaned forward, hugged Sanders and said, “I am a Columbine survivor and I just couldn’t stay home.”

Shaya had driven from Littleton, Colo., to be in Aurora for the family and friends of those who died.

“She understood how they feel because her best friend was killed at Columbine,” said Sanders, who prayed with the young woman and introduced her to the Gateway High School principal. “He said he would love to have Shaya come to speak when school starts, even if it just helps one person.”

On Sunday morning, Shaya spoke during the service at Aurora Calvary Chapel.

“The congregation was blessed and encouraged when she spoke of the love of Jesus and how a person could have hope through Him,” said Sanders. “She is a living example of someone who still is in the process of healing from tragedy, but able to live for and serve Christ.”

Sanders also ministered to one of the police officers who had to inform families that a loved one had died in the shooting. The man came right over when he saw Sanders and said, “I am a believer and this is the hardest day of my life. How could I even prepare for what I am doing? It’s only through God that I can do this.”

Even though the senseless tragedy has many asking “why,” Sanders and the other chaplains serving in Aurora see God’s hand: “Yes, He is here in the middle of the grief. He is in control. He is even reaching out to us.”

The morning of this interview, Sanders knew that God was close. After such an emotion-packed few days, she needed refreshment for her own soul. Settling down with steaming coffee and her Bible, Sanders opened to Psalm 18: 1-6 and found the words handwritten by the Lord:

I love you, LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies. The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.

The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me.

In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.

Click here to read the original story at BillyGraham.org.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

By Janet Chismar/BillyGraham.org

White House gives cool welcome to bill restricting online ammo sales.


Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., center, leads a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, last week to criticize …The White House gave a cool welcome on Monday to Democratic legislation that would effectively ban online or mail-order purchases of ammunition in the aftermath of the mass shooting at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater.

“I haven’t seen the specific piece of legislation that has been offered up today,” spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters at the daily press briefing. “But as that and other pieces of legislation make their way through the legislative process, we’ll evaluate them.”

The proposal, crafted by Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg and Democratic Representative Carolyn McCarthy, aims to restrict Americans’ ability to buy unlimited quantities of ammunition over the Internet, or by mail order, anonymously.

President Barack Obama has called for a “common sense” response to the slaughter in Aurora. But the White House has played down his appetite for new legislation as opposed to tightening or toughening existing measures — such as background checks — to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals or the mentally ill. And the president has underlined his support for the Second Amendment to the Constitution.

“He believes in the second amendment of the constitution, in the right to bear arms,” Earnest said again Monday.  “But he also believes that we should take robust steps, within existing law, to ensure that guns don’t fall in the hands of criminals or others who shouldn’t have them.

The new legislation, dubbed the Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act,  rests on four pillars, according to Lautenberg’s office:

It requires anyone selling ammunition to be a licensed dealer.

It requires ammunition buyers who are not licensed dealers to present photo identification at the time of purchase, effectively banning the online or mail order purchase of ammo by regular civilians.

It requires licensed ammunition dealers to maintain records of the sale of ammunition.

It requires licensed ammunition dealers to report the sale of more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition to an unlicensed person within any five consecutive business days.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By Olivier Knox, Yahoo! News | The Ticket 

Shooting suspect James Holmes was treated by CU psychiatrist.



Click image to see more photos. (Rj Sangosti/AFP/POOL/file)

Shooting suspect James Holmes was seeing a psychiatrist at the University of Colorado-Denver, where he was a first-year graduate student in neuroscience, according to court documents released Friday. His psychiatrist, Lynne Fenton, a professor at CU’s medical school and the director of student mental health services, specializes in schizophrenia, according to her online biography. The filing didn’t disclose how long Holmes had been seeing Fenton, or for what condition, if any, he was being treated.

Last week, Fox News reported that Holmes mailed Fenton a notebook filled with stick-figure drawings that showed a massacre, citing unnamed law enforcement personnel as sources. Fenton didn’t receive the package until after Holmes was arrested on charges of entering an Aurora, Colo., movie theater and using several weapons to fatally shoot 12 people and injure 58 more.

Holmes’ defense lawyers write in their court filing that their client’s constitutional rights have been violated by the government sources who leaked details of the package to news outlets, since the court has ordered all agencies not to reveal more details about the case. District Attorney Carol Chambers rebutted that charge, saying that she believes the media may have fabricated the law enforcement sources they quoted since many details of their accounts were inaccurate. Chambers writes that the package in question has not yet been examined by anyone, and that other outlets falsely reported that the FBI, not the Aurora Police Department, confiscated the package.

Holmes reportedly failed his neuroscience oral exam in June, and a few days later decided to drop out of the competitive graduate program. CU Graduate School Dean Barry Shur told reporters at a press conference earlier this week that Holmes had excellent academic credentials, but he would not say whether his faculty advisers noticed signs of mental illness or violence in the student before he dropped out.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By Liz Goodwin, Yahoo! News | The Lookout 

3 hospitals wipe out, limit medical bills for shooting victims.


  • Naomi Hicks (R) hugs a woman at a memorial for victims, behind the theater where a gunman opened fire on moviegoers in Aurora, Colorado July 21, 2012. James Holmes, the suspect accused of a shooting rampage at a Denver- area premiere of the new "Batman" film, received a high volume of deliveries at work and home over the past four months, police said, parcels they believe contained ammunition and possibly bomb-making materials. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW SOCIETY CIVIL UNREST OBITUARY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)View GalleryNaomi Hicks (R) hugs a woman at a memorial for victims, behind the theater where a gunman opened fire on moviegoers in Aurora, Colorado July 21, 2012. James Holmes, the suspect accused of a shooting rampage …more 

DENVER – Some of the victims fighting for their lives after being wounded in the movie theater shooting rampage may face another challenge when they get out of the hospital: enormous medical bills without the benefit of health insurance.

Members of the public, along with Warner Bros., the studio that released the Batman movieThe Dark Knight Rises,” have contributed nearly $2 million to help victims, though it’s not clear how much of that will cover medical expenses. One family is raising money on its own online.

And three of the five hospitals that treated victims said Wednesday they will limit or completely wipe out medical bills.

Some of the victims, however, still face a long recovery ahead and the associated medical costs — without health insurance. There’s no exact count of how many of them don’t have insurance but statistics suggest many of them might not be covered.

Nearly one in three Coloradans, or about 1.5 million, either have no health insurance or have coverage that is inadequate, according to a 2011 report by The Colorado Trust, a health care advocacy group.

The highest uninsured rate was among adults between 18 and 34 and many of those injured in the shootings are in that age group.

State officials said they are not sure whether any of the victims qualify for emergency Medicaid assistance available to needy patients. Victims could also get financial assistance from a state program that helps people hurt during crimes, including lost wages and counselling.

Among the uninsured victims of the movie theater attack is a 23-year-old aspiring comic, Caleb Medley, who is in critical condition with a head wound and whose wife, Katie, gave birth to their first child, Hugo, on Tuesday.

His family and friends said they have set a goal of raising $500,000 to cover his hospital bills and other expenses and were over halfway there on Wednesday.

“All the money that is donated is going straight to Caleb, Katie and Hugo to help them with medical bills, getting back on their feet, help with the baby items,” friend Michael West said. “Anything and everything that they need.”

Children’s Hospital Colorado announced it would use donations and its charity care fund to cover the medical expenses of the uninsured. For those who do have insurance, the hospital says it will waive all co-pays.

“We are committed to supporting these families as they heal,” according to a statement from the hospital, which treated six shooting victims.

HealthOne, which owns the Medical Center of Aurora and Swedish Medical Center, also says it will limit or eliminate charges based on the individual circumstances of the patients. Those hospitals have treated 22 shooting victims. However, the company cautioned its policy may not apply to all doctors working in its hospitals.

The other two hospitals, Denver Health Medical Center and University of Colorado Hospital, where Medley is, wouldn’t directly say whether they would assist shooting victims. However, they are the state’s top two safety net hospitals and provided combined $750 million in free care in 2011.

Hospitals are required by federal law to stabilize patients during emergencies without regard to their ability to pay.

“The issue most probably facing the hospitals and patients in a situation like Aurora is what comes after ‘stabilization,'” said Dr. Howard Brody, director of the Institute for the Medical Humanities at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and a frequent critic of excessive medical costs.

“Many of these people I assume will need prolonged and expensive rehabilitation after their immediate injuries are dealt with, and that seems precisely what hospitals today are less and less willing to cover out of their own funds, and no law requires that they do so, as far as I am aware,” he said.

Medley is in a medically induced coma, but West said he has been showing signs of improvement, relying less on a ventilator to breathe. Medley’s wife, 21-year-old Katie Medley, gave birth on Tuesday, one floor above his room at University of Colorado Hospital.

Standup comedian Gabriel Iglesias, who has appeared on Comedy Central, planned to headline a Denver fundraiser for Medley next week.

The fundraising might actually make Medley ineligible for some income-related assistance. His family and all other victims are already meeting with victim advocates, the case workers who deal with people hurt during crimes. The advocates determine what services they need and what assistance they qualify for.

“We have individuals who will need a lifetime of care, or a lifetime of accommodation, and our job is to make sure those needs are met,” said Karla Maraccini, deputy director for community partnerships in the office of Gov. John Hickenlooper.

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Associated Press writer Lindsey Tanner in Chicago contributed to this report.

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Online:

http://calebmedley.com/help

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

Associated PressBy Colleen Slevin,Kristen Wyatt, The Associated Press | Associated Press

Obama urges tighter background checks on gun buyers after Aurora massacre.


President Barack Obama pauses as he talks about the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting as he addresses the National …In his broadest remarks on gun controlyet in the aftermath of the mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater, President Barack Obama called late Wednesday for tougher background checks designed to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.”A lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals — that they belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities,” the president, who has called for reimposing the Assault Weapons Ban, said in a speech to the National Urban League.”I believe the majority of gun owners would agree that we should do everything possible to prevent criminals and fugitives from purchasing weapons; that we should check someone’s criminal record before they can check out a gun seller; that a mentally unbalanced individual should not be able to get his hands on a gun so easily,” he said. “These steps shouldn’t be controversial. They should be common sense.”

But Obama also offered a nod to the difficult politics of gun control, portraying himself as a believer in the individual right to bear arms, and acknowledging that calls to action after an incident like the one in Aurora often fade.

“When there is an extraordinarily heartbreaking tragedy like the one we saw, there’s always an outcry immediately after for action. And there’s talk of new reforms, and there’s talk of new legislation,” Obama said in his speech.  “And too often, those efforts are defeated by politics and by lobbying and eventually by the pull of our collective attention elsewhere.”

“And I, like most Americans, believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to bear arms.  And we recognize the traditions of gun ownership that passed on from generation to generation -— that hunting and shooting are part of a cherished national heritage,” he said.

The president also singled out youth violence, and warned that government can only do so much. “It’s up to us, as parents and as neighbors and as teachers and as mentors, to make sure our young people don’t have that void inside them,” he said.

(It’s unclear how much political capital Obama will risk in an election-year gun-control fight. On the way to Aurora on Sunday, White House press secretary Jay Carney was asked whether there would be no renewed push for the assault weapons ban. “I wouldn’t argue with your assessment about that,” Carney replied. And White House officials have repeatedly emphasized that they are focused on enforcing “existing law.”)

On a lighter note, Obama warned American school kids that they have to “hit the books” if they want to compete with their peers in rising economic powers — and avoid temptations like TV’s “Real Housewives.”

“You’re competing against young people in Beijing and Bangalore. They’re not hanging out. They’re not getting over.  They’re not playing video games.  They’re not watching ‘Real Housewives.’  I’m just saying: It’s a two-way street.  You’ve got to earn success,” he said.

“That wasn’t in my prepared remarks,” he said, to laughter from the crowd. “But I’m just saying.”

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By Olivier Knox, Yahoo! News | The Ticket

Colorado shooting victim’s brain condition helped her survive, pastor says.


Anderson (Family photo)

A 22-year-old violinist who was shot in the arm and head during last week’s theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., is expected make a full recovery, doctors say, in part because of a brain condition she didn’t know she had.

[COMPLETE COVERAGE: Colorado theater shooting]

Petra Anderson sustained multiple gunshot wounds, including a bullet that entered her brain through her nose. But miraculously the bullet “traveled through Petra’s brain without hitting any significant brain areas,” Brad Strait, a senior pastor at Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church in Englewood, Colo.—Anderson’s church—wrote in a blog post after spending a day with her in the ICU:

The doctor explains that Petra’s brain has had from birth a small “defect” in it. It is a tiny channel of fluid running through her skull, like a tiny vein through marble, or a small hole in an oak board, winding from front to rear. Only a CAT scan would catch it, and Petra would have never noticed it.

But in Petra’s case, the shotgun buck shot, maybe even the size used for deer hunting, enters her brain from the exact point of this defect. Like a marble through a small tube, the defect channels the bullet from Petra’s nose through her brain. It turns slightly several times, and comes to rest at the rear of her brain. And in the process, the bullet misses all the vital areas of the brain. In many ways, it almost misses the brain itself. Like a giant BB though a straw created in Petra’s brain before she was born, it follows the route of the defect. It is channeled in the least harmful way. A millimeter in any direction and the channel is missed. The brain is destroyed. Evil wins a round.

Anderson has been removed from the ICU, Strait said on Wednesday, and her condition continues to improve.

“There is much ahead,” he wrote. “More surgeries. Facial reconstruction, perhaps.”

More than $164,000 has been already raised to help cover Anderson’s medical costs. The Colorado native graduated from the University of the Pacific in May with a bachelor’s degree in music composition, and had been accepted into the graduate program at the University of Maryland School of Music. She did not have health insurance.

[Also read: Donors give nearly $2 million to help Aurora shooting victims]

According to the pastor and the campaign’s website, Anderson’s mother, Kim Anderson, has terminal cancer.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By Dylan Stableford, Yahoo! News | The Lookout 

‘Cries and Screams and Sobs’ in Colorado.


colorado shooting
(BGEA)

They all held out hope. Every last one, even as the reality of the horrific movie theater shooting set in.

Until the official word came down that their loved one didn’t survive The Dark Knight Rises midnight tragedy, they were going to believe.

“There is still hope,” Rapid Response team chaplain Becca Dowling said as she comforted the victim’s family members. “Let’s pray they are still alive. That God would comfort us. We held out hope.”

But one by one, the news turned dire. Tragically, and against all human logic or reasoning, a 24-year-old gunman had taken 12 lives and injured 58 others.

The Dowlings—Jack and Becca—were the first chaplains on the scene at 7:45 a.m. and were ushered into Gateway High School to minister to those desiring emotional and spiritual care.

It’s the fourth shooting that the Dowlings have deployed to as chaplains, but never so rapidly. Already stationed at the Colorado Springs wildfires, roughly 70 miles south of Aurora, Jack and Becca responded immediately that morning and God opened doors for these chaplains to provide comfort in a time of impossible uncertainty and mourning.

“…Incredible intense grief,” said Becca, who heard “their cries and screams and sobs.”

It was all God’s timing, she said. “Being there right away,” said Becca, one of 11 chaplains who ministered over the weekend. “Where the hurt was so raw, so new. If we had arrived four hours later, we would not have known that.”

In the initial wake of Friday’s tragedy, Becca described the chaplains’ role as mostly “a ministry of presence.”

“There’s a lot of silent prayers going out,” she said. “It’s not a ministry of a lot of words.”

One such instance actually happened in the ladies’ restroom, where the mother of one of the survivors frantically rushed to try to wash the blood off her daughter’s purse. Her daughter’s boyfriend, who reportedly shielded her from the gunman with his own body, was one of the 12 killed.

“This shouldn’t have happened, this shouldn’t have happened,” the mother said, endlessly scrubbing the purse.

“I put my hand on her shoulder, said a prayer for her to be able to calm down. It took about five minutes, but the Holy Spirit took over and He calmed her down.”

But as the morning turned to afternoon, news of the fatalities started trickling in and in some cases denial met reality.

Time after time, the news was not good.

“Awful,” Becca said. “One dad was so angry, he went to every hospital himself personally (trying to get answers). Some were just sitting there with a glazed look.

“Just sad, sad, sad.”

Chaplains have deployed to more than 135 natural and man-made disasters—spreading the hope and love of Christ—since 2002 in all shapes, sizes and situations. But the complexities of the Aurora shooting created a highly diverse arena of ministry opportunities.

Jack, a retired police officer himself, prayed and encouraged “countless” police officers, many who worked that night.

The chaplains were invited to attend a special Friday service at Calvary Chapel Aurora—a church heavily involved in last summer’s Rock the Range outreach Festival—to minister as 33 people from its congregation were at the movie theater on Thursday night.

Several thousand came to an official vigil at the Aurora Town Hall Sunday and chaplains had the opportunity to pray with 14 people who accepted Christ in their lives for the first time.

“That was a really special time of ministry,” Jack said.

The memorial services will continue this week and beyond.

On the hillside across the street from the movie theater, people started leaving candles and flowers. Now the hill “keeps building.” Twelve white crosses have been added and the area overlooking the theater has turned into an unofficial around-the-clock mourning area.

Chaplains will continue to have a presence there, along with the shopping mall adjacent to the movie theater. So far, everyone who they have come into contact with has been affected by this, from those being evacuated around the shooter’s booby-trapped apartment to others dealing with survivor’s guilt.

“Surprisingly, we’ve talked to a lot of people who were in the theater,” Becca said. “A mom and dad ran out of the theater as soon as the shooting started and left before there was a lockdown on the parking lot.”

The 11 chaplains currently deployed have divided themselves into two shifts to cover what is “literally day and night” ministry. Two fresh chaplains will be arriving on Wednesday as they will continue to make themselves available to share the hope that can only be found in Jesus.

“The need is unbelievable,” Becca said. “But God opens these wide-open gaps for us to walk through every time we go to a disaster.”

A chaplain will be attending each funeral service to offer condolences on behalf of the Rapid Response Team and will give the mourning family a leather-bound Billy Graham Bible.

“What a privilege it is to be a part of this ministry,” Becca said. “And to feel God’s hand upon it.”

Read Franklin Graham’s statement on the Colorado shooting.

Click here to read the original article on BillyGraham.org.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

By Jennifer LeClaire

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