Six-year-old girl among cowardly killer's victims
FOR Alex Sullivan, the midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises was not just the chance to be among the first to see the eagerly anticipated new Batman film. It was also a great way to kick off his 27th birthday at the cinema at Aurora, in Denver, Colorado where he worked.
"Oh man, one hour till the movie and it's going to be the best birthday ever," he wrote on Twitter on Thursday.
But Mr Sullivan, who was married, has now been confirmed as one of the 12 people shot dead.
The youngest victim was identified by her family as Veronica Moser, who was aged just six. Her mother, Ashley Moser, 25, was critically ill after being shot in the throat and abdomen.
Another 11 of the 58 injured remain in critical condition.
The names of victims were being made public yesterday, hours after the authorities confirmed the worst fears of families of the missing.
Matt McQuinn, 27, died as he sheltered his girlfriend Samantha Yowler from the gunfire. The couple had recently moved to Aurora from Ohio. Miss Yowler's brother, Nick, who was also at the screening, said that although his sister was hit by a bullet, Mr McQuinn's bravery had saved her life.
Families did not receive confirmation of victims' identities until Friday evening. Bodies were not removed for several hours while police conducted investigations.
For many friends and relatives of the missing, that wait brought hours of uncertainty. Several toured the hospitals that were treating the injured in the hope that their loved ones had survived.
"It took about 19 hours to hear from law enforcement, which was agonising and just outright cruel to all the victims' families," said Anita Busch, whose cousin, Micayla Medek, 23, died.
The first name to be made public was that of Jessica Ghawi, 24, who moved to the Denver area from Texas to pursue her dream of a career as a sports journalist.
In June, she left a Toronto shopping mall just before a gunman opened fire on the food court where she had been. "I was shown how fragile life was," she wrote.
For others, there were remarkable stories of survival and celebration. Patricia Legarreta and Jamie Rohrs went to the film with their four-month-old baby son and four-year-old daughter.
The couple were separated during the chaos and Ms Legarreta suffered leg wounds as she grabbed her children. The family only learned that they had survived when they were reunited in hospital.
There, they also made a decision about their lives.
"He just looked at me and said, 'I know this is not the time and place, but will you marry me?'"Ms Legarret said.
"And I said, 'Yes'. Going through 10 minutes of thinking he was dead and I would never see him again; you never want to have that feeling again."