Batman Colorado shooting: injured mother’s devastation to learn her little girl is gone
A young mother shot in the neck and stomach during the Colorado massacre was said to be "absolutely devastated" on Sunday night after finally being told of her six-year-old's daughter's death at the hands of gunman James Holmes.
Ashley Moser, 25, was in a critical condition after the shooting and was unaware that her daughter Veronica Moser-Sullivan was among the 12 people who lost their lives when Holmes opened fire during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises on Friday.
As she drifted in and out of consciousness, her family could not bring themselves to say that her daughter had been killed for fear it would worsen her own condition.
Yet despite Miss Moser's serious injuries to her neck and abdomen, which are expected to leave her paralysed, her unborn child is reportedly healthy.
"I don't know how but she still has the baby," her brother Robert Sierra told a the Daily Mail. "It's a miracle as she was shot in the stomach."
Her grandmother Jean Moser told The Daily Telegraph that family members had been told that Ashley's condition was too serious and doctors had warned against telling her news of Veronica's death too early.
However, it emerged on Sunday that she had been told the heartbreaking news late on Saturday night.
"She took it very badly," Jean Moser said "I know she was shocked."
The heartbreaking tale emerged as the town of Aurora, near Denver, reels from one of the worst mass shootings in US history, which left 59 injured in addition to those who were killed.
On Sunday night Barack Obama was due to visit the town to meet victims and their families. The president has suspended his election campaign in the wake of the massacre. Mr Obama and Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, have come under pressure to address the issue of gun control in America.
The city was due to hold a vigil on Sunday night. But the president declined to attend, saying his presence would be distracting.
Holmes was due to make his first court appearance on Monday morning. It is expected he will be formally charged but it could be months before he faces trial. It is thought that he will face at least 71 charges, one for each victim. Reports speculated that he could attempt a defence of insanity.
Prosecutors have to decide whether to ask for the death penalty, which has not been carried out in Colorado since 1997.
The names of all 12 victims were released over the weekend and included that of six-year-old Veronica Moser-Sullivan. Veronica's father, Ian Sullivan, said of his daughter: "She is the last girl I will ever love."
Veronica was "vibrant" and "excitable", and just days before her death had bragged about how she had recently learned to swim, her family said.
"She loved to dress up, and read and was doing well at school. She was beautiful and innocent," Mrs Dalton said. "She was excited about life as she should be. She's a six-year-old girl."
Veronica's mother is expected to survive and have use of her hands but may have some paralysis, her aunt said.
Other victims included Matthew McQuinn, a 27-year-old shop worker who died shielding his girlfriend Samantha Yowler, also 27, from gunfire.
Alex Sullivan, who had gone to watch the film to celebrate his 27th birthday was also named as one of the dead.
Jon Blunk, 26, died trying to protect his girlfriend Jansen Young, she said.
Jessica Ghawi, a 24-year-old sports journalist, was the first person to be confirmed dead on Friday. It emerged that she had survived a similar massacre at a mall in Toronto last month.
Extraordinary tales of survival also emerged. One man told how he played dead after being shot twice as the gunman James Holmes stood over him.
Pierce O'Farrill, a minister from Denver, said he felt Holmes's boot touch his head as he lay on the floor and listened to the gunman open fire on other cinema goers.