Two San Rafael teens who were at the Colorado movie theater early Friday when a gunman opened fire killing 12 recalled a grisly and chaotic scene.
Linnea and Melia Schurig, ages 16 and 19, were in Aurora with their mother, Melanie Haiken, for the Friends: The National Association of Young People Who Stutter conference this week.
"We were here for that conference, and a group of 12 kids from the conference had made advanced plans to go to the movie premiere," Haiken said.
The sisters said they attended the 12:01 a.m. screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" at the Century 16 complex at Aurora Town Center in Theater 8. Police say suspect 24-year-old James Eagen Holmes opened fire in the adjacent Theater 9.
However, some bullets came into the theater where the sisters and their friends were sitting, hitting an 18-year-old man in their group in the arm, Linnea and Melia Schurig said.
"About half an hour in I would say, a smoke bomb ... was on our aisle, and so it was right by us," said Linnea Schurig, a senior at San Rafael High School. "It went off and then we didn't really know what was happening.
"Then my friend who was right behind me was like, 'Oh my God,'" she said. "(I) looked around and he had blood pouring out of his arm."
The group of teens ran out of the theater, and the sisters hid behind a car in the parking lot. But their wounded friend kept blacking out and couldn't run, the sisters said.
They ended up
sitting with their friend on a curb until an ambulance took him away.
Linnea Schurig said she saw many people screaming and bleeding outside the theater and a woman carrying a baby who had been shot in the leg.
"It was insane," said Melia Schurig, a sophomore at Humboldt State University and a 2010 Sir Francis Drake High School graduate. "By that point people were yelling, 'There's a shooter. There's a shooter,' and we were seeing all of these people coming out in different states of injured.
"We were trying to understand why," she added. "It just felt so completely random. That's what's so scary - it wasn't like he was targeting one person."
Haiken said she had put her phone on silent before going to bed but saw it light up and noticed she had missed five calls in five minutes from her daughters.
The sisters were in a car on their way back to the hotel when Haiken connected with them. Haiken said the wounded 18-year-old man had been in surgery all day but was scheduled to return to the hotel Friday evening.
"I feel like I'm so lucky that my daughters are fine," Haiken said. "On the other hand, it's hard to have that feeling when you know that other people are not."
©2012 The Marin Independent Journal (Novato, Calif.)
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