(AURORA, Colo.) — A young Colorado mother who survived the mass shooting at a movie theater Friday became engaged to her boyfriend hours after the incident, which left 12 people dead and 58 injured.
“I’m ecstatic, extremely excited, but at the same time, you have this tragedy, this sadness hanging over,” Patricia Legarreta told Good Morning America.
Patricia Legarreta was attending the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises at the mall in Aurora, Colo., with her fiancé, her 4-year-old daughter and infant son when suspected gunman James Holmes opened fire on the packed movie theater.
The young mother was hit and was taken to the hospital for treatment, where her boyfriend Jamie Rohrs proposed.
“I’m ecstatic, extremely excited, but at the same time, you have this tragedy, this sadness hanging over,” Legarreta told Good Morning America.
When Holmes, 24, allegedly unloaded four weapons’ full of ammunition into an unsuspecting crowd, sheer chaos erupted as people scrambled for the exits.
Legarreta said her daughter fell in the process of trying to flee because she had fallen asleep during the movie and was disoriented. Legarreta said she attempted to shield her young daughter from the spray of bullets.
“Just blocking her, just shoving her, just making sure she’s not getting hurt, just trying to keep her down,” Legarreta said, through tears. “Just trying to keep calm so she didn’t start freaking out even more. It was just so scary.”
Legarreta said she doesn’t really remember what happened but credits 19-year-old Jarell Brooks with saving her and her two young children. Legarreta and Brooks were reunited for the first time since the shooting on Good Morning America.
“I don’t know where I would be,” Legarreta said. “I don’t remember exactly everything that happened but I thank him because having him there next to me, knowing that there was somebody there, just, it’s comforting, knowing that somebody was willing to help.”
Brooks said he was sitting six rows from the back when Holmes, appeared in front of the movie screen and started shooting.
“The only reason I saw him was from the flashes of the gunshots,” Brooks said. “My life definitely flashed before my eyes in that moment.”
While trying to get out of the theater, Brooks saw a woman, later identified as Legarreta, struggling to get herself and her two children out.
He said he crawled on top of Legarreta in an attempt to push her and the kids out the door. But in the process, Brooks was shot in the thigh.
“It felt like a sharp pain,” he said. “When I tried to move my left leg, I went down. I looked at my hand and I noticed there was bleeding. That’s when I knew it was real.”
“I remember hearing him scream and saying ‘oh god’ when he got hit,” Legarreta said.
Brooks said he was just doing what he thought was best in the situation and doesn’t consider himself a hero.
“I saw someone in distress,” he said. “I’m not the kind of person who would let them be in that situation and me selfishly trying to get myself out of the equation… all she’s trying to do is protect her kids, so I felt like if I could get her out, then maybe, I would have gotten out maybe I wouldn’t, as long as I knew she was OK I was alright.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Ashley Strickland, CNN
Matt McFarland, CNN
Morgan Loew, CNN
Betsy Klein, CNN