Aurora Theater Shooting Survivors to Wed Exactly One Year Later
(AURORA, Colo.) -- A young couple who survived the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting decided to turn the date of their worst night into their best day -- their wedding day.
Eugene Han and Kirstin Davis are preparing for their Saturday wedding, exactly one year after the Colorado massacre that left a dozen people dead and more than 70 injured.
A year ago, Han, 21, and Davis, 22, didn't know if they would make it through the night.
The childhood friends who met in church sometime around the fourth grade started dating three years ago. On the night of the shooting, the couple and three friends decided to go to the midnight showing of the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises.
Han was tired from a 12-hour day at his job at a medical supply company, but thought it would be fun to take Davis to her first midnight screening.
When they got into the theater, it was packed. The only place they could find five seats together was in the second row, close to the emergency exit that accused shooter James Holmes would soon enter through.
Han was so tired that he dozed off during the previews.
"When the movie started, I kind of woke up but I woke up not to the movie, but more like something felt wrong to me but nothing was happening yet," Han told ABC News. "I wasn't really sure what it was and kind of blew it off."
Soon after, he saw someone walk in through the exit door near them. The figure was only about 10 feet away in the dark theater.
"I've never seen anyone walk in an exit door," he said. "The next thing that worried me the most was seeing the gun strapped to his shoulder. The screen actually showed the outline of the gun."
Within moments, Han saw the person throw something into the crowd. He would later find out that it was a gas canister.
"I didn't even know what was going on at the moment. I thought it was a prank," Davis told ABC News. "The next thing I know, I see red things coming out of the corner."
The "red things" were the little bursts of flame created by the gunfire. Han threw himself to the ground and grabbed Davis.
"Next thing I know he's pulling me out of my seat and telling me, 'Don't move. Just stay still. Whatever you do, don't move,'" she said.
Han said he pushed Davis under the chairs and put himself between her and the shooter who was spraying bullets into the crowd. Han got shot in the hip. His reflex was to lift his leg and then he got shot in the knee. He "saw pieces of flesh fly."
"The hip hurt more. The knee was more a through-and-through," he said. "I was kind of freaking out."
Then the shooting stopped and Han saw an opportunity, albeit a risky one.
"His gun jammed and I heard a clicking noise so I told her, 'If we leave, we need to leave right now,'" Han recalled.
The group of friends got up with Davis supporting an injured Han. They decided to make a break for the emergency exit from where the gunman had entered.
"I just remember having my back towards the screen and looking up and down the hallway just a little bit," Davis remembered, right before locking eyes with the shooter. "He was looking up and he was looking at me."
She said the shooter had a mask on and his gun pointed down as he tried to un-jam it. Han saw Davis looking towards the gunman.
"He saw Holmes drop the gun he was working on and pull out another gun that he had on him," Davis said. "That's when God gave him strength to push us into the cubby hole."
The "cubby hole" was a small entryway between the theater and the exit. The group fell to the floor as the shooting began again. They made it out of the theater and ran as far and fast as they could, with adrenaline fueling the wounded Han.
He was treated in the hospital and has undergone physical therapy over the past year. Now, he's running again. Davis recovered from her minor injuries.
Nine months after the shooting, Han realized it was time to take the couple's relationship to the next level.
"We were still dating and I was planning on proposing even before [the shooting] but I never had the chance to," he said. "When the theater shooting happened, that's when I was like, I really need to do this because you don't know what's going to happen after tomorrow."
He proposed on April 9 while the couple was visiting South Padre Island in Texas. She said, "yes" and he asked how she felt about getting married on the one-year anniversary of the shooting . Davis told him she had to think about it.
"I was kind of uncomfortable about the idea because I didn't think it was okay to take a bad day and turn it into a good day so I had to really think about it," she said.
She thought about it and came to a conclusion about a half hour later.
"I think it would be a good date to have our wedding," she recalled saying. "That way we can make good memories and start a new chapter of our lives rather than allowing this memory from a year ago to stick with us every single year."
Over the past three months, the couple has planned their wedding with the help of family, friends, community members and strangers who have rallied around them.
"A lot of people have been helping," Han said. "We were planning on having a small wedding but it kind of grew every day into a big ceremony."
Supporters have pitched in to help with the reception, dress, hair, accessories and decorations.
"We really appreciate all of the help and the kindness of all their hearts to be able to help us," Davis said.
The couple emphasized that the love and support of many along with their strong faith has helped them overcome a tragedy and plan their special day.
"Our faith is definitely a big part of this story," Han said. "Jesus saved me once because I accepted him, but then he saved me physically in the theater."
Their wedding will be a day of celebration, but they won't forget what happened on July 20, 2012, and that will be part of the ceremony too.
"I know for sure there will be a prayer for the families of the people that did lose someone last year," Davis said.
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