A Colorado teenager’s heroism saved the life of a young mother and her two children during a theater shooting massacre that left 12 people dead and 58 injured.
James Holmes, a 24-year-old former student at the University of Colorado, caused sheer hysteria after opening fire inside the packed Aurora, CO theater during a screening of “Dark Knight Rises.” The panicky moviegoers included Jamie Rohrs and girlfriend Patricia Legarreta, who brought along their two young children, ages 4 years old and 4 months old.
During the melee, Rohrs, 24, placed his baby Ethan on the theater floor and jumped over a balcony to escape. He quickly found an exit and drove away, while his girlfriend and children were left inside facing imminent dangers.
Jarell Brooks saw Legarreta kneeled down in the theater aisle covering her children from the spray of bullets that zipped past her. Brooks ran towards Legarreta and led the young mother and her children to the exit, taking a bullet to his thigh in the process.
Despite his heroics, Brooks was not recognized during the aftermath of one of the deadliest U.S. shootings since the 2009 Ft. Hood attack.
Rohrs and Legarreta refrained from mentioning Brooks’ heroism in initial interviews with NBC and CNN.
Ann Curry asked Legareta on the Today Show how she and her children were able to survive.
I remembered, Legarreta responded, there was a point when the gunshots stopped.
“I saw people running and I thought ‘they’re running, he’s not shooting, just get up and go’ and I just got up,” she said.
It wasn’t until an ABC interview the world was able to learn about the 19-year-old’s selfless actions that saved Legarreta and her children’s lives.
Legarreta told ABC it was “comforting” knowing someone was there to help her and thanked Brooks for saving her and her children’s lives.
Brooks told ABC he saw Legarreta on the floor with her children and said “his first initial reaction was to guide them to the door.” Brooks was shot in the thigh while picking Legarreta up and moving towards the exit.
Brooks, who will be attending college in the fall, said he didn’t “initially know” he got shot.
“It felt like a sharp pain,” he said. “But when I tried to move my left leg, I went down. And looked at my hand and noticed there was bleeding. That’s when it got pretty real at that moment.”
Brooks said his “life definitely flashed” before his eyes.
“When I first was hit, that’s when it got very real for me,” he said. “At that moment, I was thinking I can sit here and see what happens or make a bold move and try to go. Thankfully, I made it out okay and Patricia and her kids made it out okay.”
Brook doesn’t regard himself as a hero and believed he “was doing what was the best intentions of the situation.”
“I don’t necessarily consider myself a hero,” he said. “I just feel like there was someone in distress and 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 knowing there someone with two kids. All she was doing was trying to protect her two kids. Maybe I would’ve got out, maybe I wouldn’t, but as long as I knew she was OK I was alright.
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Watch video mashup of the Colorado Couple Failing to Mention Jarell Brooks’ heroism.