It is human nature. After the darkness of a tragedy like the one in Colorado, people have a tendency to turn toward the light. And there are always beams of light, even among inhuman acts, there are always moments of goodness.
There were many who acted out of bravery, out of humanity, in the terrifying moments following the shooting. Some survivors provided a supportive presence in the face of chaos, and many of the victims of the Aurora shootings died as heroes.
Jon Blunk, a former Navy man who worked as a security guard, shielded his girlfriend from a spray of bullets, and lost his life in the process. "He's a hero," Blunk's girlfriend Jansen Young said. "And he'll never be forgotten. Jon took a bullet for me." Blunk's estranged wife Chantel said her husband always hoped that if he died, he would die while serving his country. “He always wanted to be a superhero, he’s wanting to save someone or do something greater,” she said. In a very real way, he did.
Matthew McQuinn had attended the screening with his girlfriend, Samantha Yowler. When the shooter opened fire, McQuinn threw Yowler onto the ground and shielded her. Yowler's brother, Nick, also helped lead Yowler to safety. Sadly, McQuinn was shot and killed. Yowler and McQuinn worked together at a Denver Target store, and friends say the couple was very well-liked in their community. One co-worker described McQuinn as a "great, outgoing person," while another co-worker, who was supposed to work with Yowler the morning after the shooting, said she couldn't contain her tears as she opened up the store alone.
Alex Teves also took a bullet protecting the woman he loved. He helped his girlfriend Amanda take cover on the floor, but before he could follow suit, he was shot. Caitlin, a friend who had accompanied the couple to the screening, happened to be tweeting during the shooting, and confirmed Teves' death. "Alex didn't make it," she tweeted. "Alex Teves was one of the best men I ever knew. The world isn't as good a place without him."
13-year-old Kaylan tried desperately to save her young friend Veronica Moser-Sullivan. When the girl was hit, Kaylan tried to administer CPR, and even tried to move a wounded adult who had fallen on top of Veronica's body. "I was asking the person who was on top of the one I was trying to help if they could move," Kaylan told CBS. “I just was begging the person, just please try, please, because we have to get out of here." Veronica never made it out of the theater, and became the youngest victim of the shooting at 6 years old. Kaylan's mother fears her daughter may never get over the tragedy. "She was trying everything she possibly could to save another human being," she said.
Jarell Brooks was among the masses desperately trying to escape the theater, but when he saw a young mother trying to rush her child to safety, he didn't think twice. "I was thinking, I have to get this family out, without getting hit myself. I managed to do one," Brooks told ABC. He was shot in the leg during the scuffle, but managed to help guide Patricia Legarretta and her two children to safety. "Everybody at that moment was going through it," Legarretta said, "And to know that someone had that mindset, it makes me feel happy to know that in times of trial, there are good people out there."
Stephanie Davies was commended by President Barack Obama for her swift bravery. When her friend Allie Young was shot in the neck, Davies got down on the ground next to her and applied pressure to the wound, even while bullets flew over the pair's head. In a speech on Sunday, Obama said Davies' actions probably saved Young's life. "Because of Stephanie's timely actions," he said, "I just had a conversation with Allie downstairs, and she is going to be fine."