One year After Aurora Massacre, Survivors Still Coping

By: CBS/AP (Posted by Kion Hudson)
By: CBS/AP (Posted by Kion Hudson)

(CBS/AP)-- Caleb Medley was shot in the head and spent two months in a coma. Teenager Kaylan Bailey struggled in vain to save a six-year-old girl with CPR. Marcus Weaver was hit in the shoulder with shotgun pellets while his friend died in the seat next to him.

One year after the Aurora, Colo. theater massacre, survivors are struggling to cope with the physical and emotional wounds left by James Holmes, an enigmatic figure who opened fire at the midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises."

The rampage killed 12 people, injured 70 and altered the lives of the more than 400 men, women and children who were in the auditorium on July 20, 2012. Survivors still carry the trauma of that night but have found strength in everything from religion to cheerleading to taking up the issue of gun control.

Here is a look at how four survivors are dealing with the tragedy one year later:

When the gunman opened fire at the midnight movie, 13-year-old Kaylan Bailey was sitting with six-year-old Veronica Moser Sullivan and her mother Ashley Moser, both of whom were shot.

"[Ashley Moser] was hit in her abdomen and then when she was looking up to see where the shooter was that's when she was shot in her neck and that's when she fell over on top of Veronica," Kaylan told CBS News correspondent John Blackstone.

Moser was paralyzed, unable to move. Bailey struggled to save the six-year-old and called 911.

"They told me to give Veronica CPR and I tried to explain to them that I couldn't because Ashley was lying on top of Veronica and I couldn't get to her chest."

In spite of Bailey's efforts, Veronica died. She was the youngest victim of the mass shooting.

Over the past year she has had help coming to terms with the terror of that night, but it remains a work in progress.

She hasn't been to a movie since and said she will probably never eat popcorn again.

"People always used to tell me that it gets better and, I mean, it does, but you're always gonna have those times in the day or that one day of the week or something where it's just not good at all," she said.

Earlier this year she went on a church trip to Haiti where she worked with orphans. There she found some perspective.

"I thought my life was hard but then I went to Haiti and was like 'Oh my life isn't that bad,'" she said.

At orientation for the high school where she will start as a freshman this fall she discovered the cheer team.

"I noticed all the cheer girls were like laughing and having fun and I was like 'Wow, I want to be a part of that,'" she said. "I just like loved them from the start."

Katie Medley was nine months pregnant when she and her husband, Caleb, went to the midnight movie that turned into a slaughter. Caleb was shot in the head.

Four days later, their son Hugo was born. That's when CBS News' Blackstone first met the family.

"I always think no matter what happens to Caleb I have a piece of him with me, I have a piece of him right here and that gives me strength too," said Medley, in an interview with CBS News in July 2012.

Caleb would spend two months in a coma.

"Back in the ICU when he first started to open his eyes and look around, the one thing he would watch more than anything else was Hugo," Medley said.

Caleb has now been back home for six months. He has therapy almost daily to regain his speech and learn to walk again.

Katie Medley told Blackstone that the anniversary of the shooting brings a lot of emotions.

"Partly it's sadness because you know, you wish we could go back and just be the way it was for one day," she said. "I'd take just one day. The day before was the best day ever with Caleb." said Medley. "He's a lot himself, don't get me wrong, but some days I wish he would just get up and say something he would say before."

Medley credits their son with inspiring her husband to recover and helping her move forward.

"When it was tough everyone was like, 'Let me hold Hugo!' because you look at him and you're like, 'How can new life be bad?' and, 'Everything's going to be OK because Hugo is here,'" she said.

Survivor takes up issue of gun violence

Stephen Barton says he is lucky. Despite suffering multiple injuries in the Aurora theater shooting, Barton told CBS4 in Denver that he was lucky to get out alive.

"I was shot with a shotgun in the face, the neck, the chest, the shoulder and arms and hands by about two dozen shotgun pellets, eight of which are still in me," Barton told CBS4.

On the eve of the anniversary, Barton was slated to speak out on the issue of gun violence at a public gathering in Denver.

After recovery he wanted to get involved in the issue of gun violence. He now works for Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a national effort spearheaded by the mayors of New York and Boston.

"With this campaign in particular it's called 'No More Names.' The idea is that the level of gun violence that we're suffering in this country is unacceptable," Barton said.

Barton said he knows this is a sensitive issue.

"This is a discussion. It's an ongoing discussion. We can agree to disagree, but the bottom line is victims should be respected," Barton said.

Survivor turns to faith to be "point of light"

Marcus Weaver was sitting in the fifth row next to his friend Rebecca Wingo when James Holmes began opening fire.

"You could see the white spray of the gun, and that's the image that is the one that is hard to get out of my head," Weaver told The Associated Press.

Weaver, who was hit in the right shoulder with shotgun pellets, told the AP he tried to grab Wingo but the former Air Force service member was killed.

In the aftermath, Weaver said he turned to prayer to help him cope with the loss of his friend and forgive Holmes.

"There's a lot of pain, a lot of hurt for him to execute something like that," he told the AP. "And my whole thing was, if I carry that same hate and that same pain around for the rest of my life because of what he's done, then I'm going to be just like him. And my faith was telling me to just let it go."

Weaver, who said he was inspired by a Bible passage that explains how to be a point of light in the darkness, now takes his message to students and prisoners alike.

"It seemed the more I told it, the more it would help people," he said. "So I realized that God started using me as a point of light"


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