Jessica Ghawi grew up a hockey fan in football-crazed Texas.
The 24-year-old followed that passion to Colorado to forge a career in sports journalism. It probably took her to Toronto, where she walked out of a shopping-mall food court moments before a gunman shot seven people.
Writing as Jessica Redfield in a June 5 blog entry, she described how the experience reminded her "how blessed I am for each second I am given."
Early Friday in Aurora, Ghawi did not escape the gunfire.
She was among the 12 people killed when James Eagan Holmes allegedly opened fire at a midnight showing of the latest Batman film, "The Dark Knight Rises.
"Ghawi was one of four of the deceased whose identities were known at press time.
The family of Alex Sullivan said he was one of the 10 people who died inside the theater (two others died at area hospitals). He was attending the film on his 27th birthday.
"Alex was smart, funny and, above all, loved dearly by his friends and family," a release from the family said.
Late Friday, The Associated Press confirmed the death of Micayla Medek, 23.
And WHIO TV in Dayton, Ohio, citing Aurora police, identified a fourth casualty as Matt McQuinn, of nearby St. Paris, Ohio.
McQuinn was reportedly killed while trying to shield his girlfriend, Samantha Yowler, from the gunfire. The station said the couple worked together at a Target in Ohio and transfered to a store in Denver last year.
For others, anguish over the fate of missing friends and loved ones remained.
Many family members of the missing spent the day at nearby Gateway High School, waiting, while hints and scraps of information trickled out to the public.
Earlier Friday, Alex Sullivan's dad, Tom, paced the parking lot alternately hugging friends and showing anyone who would look at a photo of his then-missing son.
By midday, the Department of Defense confirmed that one of those missing was serving in the Navy and was believed dead. Also, a distraught man who wanted to remain anonymous told a reporter that his 6-year-old daughter was gone.
At 6 p.m., a friend of Rebecca Wingo, a single mother of two, went on television pleading for information about the woman he last saw in the theater as the carnage unfolded.
For Ghawi's family, word of her death came in a middle-of-the-night phone call from a friend who had gone with her to the movie, her brother, Jordan Ghawi, told 9News.
Peter Burns, a Denver sports-talk radio host who worked with Ghawi in San Antonio and who encouraged her to come to Colorado, said he wasn't surprised his friend was at the movie for the midnight premiere.
"She was an experience person," he said. "If there's a game, she wanted to be there. She even found a way to be at the Stanley Cup finals. She just kind of found a way."
He wasn't sure, but he said he believed she had gone to Toronto to be with her boyfriend, a minor-league hockey player.
When fire destroyed the homes of so many in Colorado last month, Ghawi decided to start collecting donated hockey equipment for kids.
"She wanted to help. That's the type of heart she had," Jordan Ghawi told 9News.
Jessica Ghawi paid the bills by working as a waitress, until she was laid off recently, said Adrian Dater, who covers the Colorado Avalanche for The Denver Post. Dater met Ghawi in the team's press box, where she was working for 104.3 The Fan. Her goal was to earn a living as a sports journalist.
Thursday night, from Century Aurora 16, she tweeted: "Of course we're seeing Dark Knight. Redheaded Texan spitfire. People should never argue with me. Maybe I should get in on those NHL talks."
Ghawi was in Toronto on June 2, grabbing a bite to eat in a shopping mall, when, she wrote on her blog, she "felt funny," left the food court and walked outside.
Moments later, shots rang out in the food court Ghawi had been standing in. The gunfire killed a 25-year-old man and wounded six others, two critically.
In a blog post dated June 5, she described watching as paramedics rushed a shirtless and badly wounded man from the food court, wheeling him past her.
"It's hard for me to wrap my mind around how a weird feeling saved me from being in the middle of a deadly shooting," Ghawi wrote. "I say all the time that every moment we have to live our life is a blessing. So often I have found myself taking it for granted. Every hug from a family member. Every laugh we share with friends. Even the times of solitude are all blessings. Every second of every day is a gift. After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given."
Late Thursday night, as she waited for the show to start in sold-out theater 9, she tweeted her excitement and impatience, and ribbed friends who weren't there.
"MOVIE DOESN'T START FOR 20 MINUTES," she tweeted before midnight.
It was her last message.
To my friend: Read Adrian Dater's blog about Jessica Ghawi. blogs.denverpost.com/avs