Funerals for victims in shooting begin
AURORA, Colo. – Theater shooting victims and their loved ones marched through the rituals of mourning and recovery here Thursday, with funerals for two of the 12 dead, a vigil and fundraising to help pay for medical care and burials.
The Aurora Victim Relief Fund, set up by Gov. John Hickenlooper and the Denver-based Community First Foundations, has received more than $2 million in donations since a gunman sprayed a crowded theater with bullets last week.
At least five of the 58 wounded remain in critical condition. Many are uninsured.
Officials at several local hospitals have said they would limit or cover medical bills for the victims. In addition, friends and families have created their own websites to raise funds.
Meantime, a judge barred the University of Colorado, Denver, from releasing records of the suspect, James E. Holmes, whose behavior before the July 20 massacre remains an enigma. Authorities say he opened fire during a premiere of the latest Batman movie.
Holmes, 24, spent a year in a neuroscience graduate program here before beginning the process of withdrawal in June, so school records could provide clues to his state of mind.
The university released an order from District Judge William Blair Sylvester that prohibited the school from turning over records to the media. The previous day, Sylvester reaffirmed a gag order barring law enforcement and attorneys from speaking to the press.
It’s not unusual in high-profile cases for a judge to issue a gag order or try to prevent potential jurors from being tainted by information that may not be allowed into evidence. But experts said Sylvester lowered the curtain early in the legal process, especially in regard to the university records.
“It seems like a very broad and overly aggressive approach,” Mark Caramanica, freedom of information director at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, told the Associated Press.
As the legal process unfolded, residents continued the grim task of attending funerals. Two were held Thursday in the Denver area for Micayla Medek, 23, and Alex Sullivan, 27.
Earlier in the day, students at a Denver college campus paid tribute to the victims by releasing white doves and scrawling messages on the concrete in chalk. One note said: “Some flames can never be put out.”