'We are stronger': Aurora honors victims of theater shooting 5 years later

Posted at 12:00 PM, Jul 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-20 20:46:38-04

AURORA, Colo. – A candlelight vigil and moment of silence, along with a procession by the Aurora Police Department were held late Wednesday night into early Thursday morning to remember the victims of the Aurora Theater Shooting.

Before the vigil and the procession, residents gathered near Aurora City Hall and were given the chance to speak about their experiences following that fateful night.

A woman whose daughter was shot three times during the massacre spoke before the vigil and thanked first responders for saving her daughter's life. 

An African-American woman also spoke before the vigil and said that despite tense relations between the police and the African-American community, she was thankful for the heroic act of first responders and officers who saved her son's life. 

"The fact that we can stand together tonight says that we are stronger. That we are better and that we can be better," she said. 

She was followed by a first responder, Officer Robert Behringer, who received a round of applause and a resonating "thank you" from residents as he talked about what he experienced on July 20, 2012. 

At around 12:18 a.m., the names of the 12 victims in the Aurora Theather Shooting were announced and white balloons were released as each name was called out. 

A moment of silence followed. Shortly after, the vigil began. 

Residents walked toward the 7/20 Reflection Memorial Garden east of the Aurora Municipal Building where they waited as Aurora Police officers made their way to honor the victims with a procession to the memorial site. 

As officers drove past the site, they were greeted with thunderous applause by a community grateful for their heroic actions that day.

Officers then joined the rest of the people at the vigil and were received, once again, with signs of gratitude and respect by Aurora residents.

At the memorial, both first responders and residents reflected on the events of the Aurora Theater Shooting and left flowers and other items on 13 crosses with photos of the victims spread across the ground. 

"We lost 12 people on our watch that night. That happened on our watch and we take that personally," said Aurora Police Department Lt. Jad Lanigan. 

Five years later

Thursday will mark the five-year anniversary of the 2012 Aurora movie theater shooting.

Twelve people were killed and 70 injured when James Holmes walked into a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" and opened fire.

Holmes was sentenced to 12 life sentences plus more than 3,300 years in prison for the shooting.