"Temporality is part of the truth" -- Chuck Klosterman

Friday, July 20, 2012

Tragedy in My Hometown

I don't have much to say about shootings at the Century 16 theaterYou can follow the news yourself. I've had 9News on all day.

For me, it's too shocking and horrific. I don't feel especially eloquent right now.

Still, I thought I'd let everyone know that my family and I are safe. And especially to those reading this who I don't know personally, you might know I'm from Aurora, Colorado. It says so right over there to the right. But Aurora is a big place, east of Denver proper, spreading out into the plains of Colorado. We're urban and suburban, even rural. So the chances of a tragedy of this magnitude happening in Aurora and still hitting close to home are pretty low.

The apartment where the shooter lived is only a mile from my house. Right now the police still haven't entered the place. It's booby-trapped. Authorities have evacuated a radius of a couple of blocks. That doesn't reach my place, but it's literally close to home.

These events also hit home more figuratively. This movie theater is located at the Aurora Town Center, which was simply the Aurora Mall when I was younger. This particular theater wasn't built then; it's a relatively new construct, maybe ten or twelve years old. But I know what it's like to be young and hang out and see movies at that mall. Today, it's the location most of my students go to see their movies. I haven't been there in years. The last time I was there was to see The Incredibles when it came out, before a newer theater was built nearer where I live. I left my wallet in my seat after the movie and didn't notice until later that night. I went back the next day, and they had it waiting for me in the manager's office. Nothing was missing.

I don't know exactly why, but that incident keeps running through my thoughts today.

We don't know much at this point about the names of the victims, but as far as I know none of my own students were at this theater last night. But some of their friends were.

What's the closest to home is that two young women in my ward at church were there. One of them was injured but is okay and has already returned home. These girls are my oldest daughter's age. Had our lives been slightly different, my daughter might have been with these girls last night. I have a hard time trying to imagine what the injured girl's parents have gone through today. As a father, it scares me.

UPDATE: The young woman I speak of was interviewed by MSNBC. She is quite more articulate than I would be. Kinda surreal really.

I love this town. I wasn't born here, but I grew up here, came of age here, have made my home here. It's economically, racially, and socially diverse. I can't say how different Aurora is from other metropolitan cities. But it's Colorado. Varied geography, best climate on earth. It gets cold, but not too cold. It gets hot, but not too hot (despite this summer's constant hover near 100 degrees).

And my son will grow up here.

My wife says that for the rest of our lives, when we tell people we live in Aurora, people will ask us about the shootings at the Century 16. Forever a sad reflection on such a great place.

One more UPDATE: If you're interested in Aurora, this article describes our town in a way I wish I could have the other day.


  1. Is this a Larry H. Miller owned theater because this Century 16 looks identical to the Century 16 that I attend for many movies that is on 3300 South and State street here in Salt Lake City. This whole thing gives me the willies. Count yourself blessed that you weren't there. Yes, it's a horrible tragedy. But I could very easily have been a target in this kind of senseless massacre as I often attend these huge nerd parties. I did go to the Dark Knight Rises last night but I got in on a prescreen which was 7:30 p.m. Still...it's absolutely shocking.

  2. loved reading the post today brent. thanks for sharing your insights and reminding me that Aurora can be a beautiful place. my thoughts this morning were not that kind ... as I remembered a similar incident happening at ChuckECheese when I was in HS and then of course, columbine.

  3. and then there is the article ..
    addressing how some online are attacking parents who bring their 3 month old children to see movies at night.

    I just did that. The other week JAzzy was in town and she wanted to take us to see the Advengers with her and Nana and Homer. My other kids were with a babysitter, but she wasn't sure she could handle the baby and other kids. So at the last minute I took Malia with us. She slept the entire movie!! As the article points out, it is not always comfortable for others to have in infant in the movie with them. In my case, Malia was so quiet noone even knew she was there. But that doesn't mean it was comfortable for me ... as I rocked her, held her close and tried to muffle sounds and shocks to her body. All that said, I enjoyed the night out and we were all safe.

    This recent experience makes me feel really really sad for this infant who has hurt and his/her parents. Tragically aweful!!

    1. I took my newborn to several movies with me. It was no big deal because she just slept the entire time. That is what newborns do. I have greater issue with the 6 year old that was there. I have a 6direct year old son and ibwould never take him to that type of a movie, let alone at midnight. Just doesn't seem responsible.

    2. PS I have a home just a few miles from that theater and have frequented it with my husband and children. The last time I was there was just a few months ago. I decided that I wouldn't go to that are with my kids anymore because I personally saw too many cops, arrests and riff raf. How ironic that the tragedy was as far from the stereotypical reasons I don't frequent that area anymore.

  4. "My wife says that for the rest of our lives, when we tell people we live in Aurora, people will ask us about the shootings at the Century 16."

    Earlier this year, there was a school shooting in the nearby town of Chardon, where I work and where my brother lives with his family. At the time, I was thinking the same thing. Hopefully things move on.

    They've been covering this shooting all over the news here all day. I really can't imagine anything more senseless than what this guy did. Horrible!

  5. This is such a horrific tragedy! My heart goes out to all of the victims and their families.

  6. A friend of mine who lives nearby posted this...

    Dave Wrote This

  7. I'm glad to hear that you and yours are safe, Brent. It's a horrible thing. And now this douchebag probably thinks he's a celebrity.

  8. Glad to know you and your family are safe. Sorry to hear another shooting happened in Colorado. ***shaking my head*** Man....

  9. I find it uplifting that your mind wants to focus on your returned wallet. Thank you.

  10. Glad that you and your family are OK. My daughter was upset all day because her friend just moved to Aurora and is a huge geek who would have likely been at the premier. Turns out he's fine, thank goodness. It's sad to say but this sort of random craziness could happen anywhere. Again, I wonder about the folks who may have interacted with this guy and if they had any inkling he was in distress. If one person had said, "I'm worried about you-are you OK?" could this have been prevented?

  11. You are right about the Aurora reference. I was talking to a woman yesterday who went to Columbine HS. We talked about how, EVERY time she tells someone where she went to high school, the other person pauses, and then says "oh".

    She hears that "oh" from everyone.

    All of us from Aurora will now get to experience that "oh" for ourselves.

    P.S. She was in high school during the shooting, but she had ditched that day. She didn't get in trouble for ditching THAT day.

  12. FYI: It's now Saturday evening, and I've updated this post with a couple links to more information and better writing than I could come up with yesterday.

  13. Thanks for your comments everyone. I'm not feeling the usual snarky/silly responses today, so I'm not sure how to respond to individual comments. Sorry. But I appreciate each of you reading and commenting. It means a lot.

  14. I'm sick beyond words about this tragedy. I'm glad no one in your family was hurt. Incidents like this really dent my faith in humanity. Thanks for the updates.