Today I logged into Facebook to see many, many well-wishes for an old high school theater classmate of mine, Brent Lowak. I was shocked. Brent? This guy that I fondly remember as being part of so many productions, who I can see myself sitting next to in several photos in my old yearbooks? I last talked to him at some convention… Something happened to him? What was it? Colorado? What was he doing there?
He was visiting a special person in Colorado. A girl who also went to my high school, just a couple years younger than myself. They were only trying to watch a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises, in a movie theater in Aurora. It was an event that everyone had been excited for for so very long. I myself had wished to see the movie at midnight, too, from my own city of San Antonio, Texas.
But then something terribly tragic happened as the movie began. A man enters from one of the exit doors near the screen. He throws a gas canister in and then proceeds to light the theater ablaze with gunfire. From what I understand, Brent and his dear friend Jessica Ghawi attempted to duck under the shots. But Jessica had been hit in the leg. And as Brent attempted to stop the bleeding, he himself was shot in the hindquarters, shrapnel traveling up to his shoulder. And next was a shot that very sadly ended Jessica’s life. All Brent could do was escape, which he very luckily did, though from my understanding bleeding was hard to stop for a while. Of course he’s been through surgery… he’s incredibly fortunate to be alive.
But what do you live with after something like that? Of course you will have scars, and they’ll take a while to heal. You’ll likely have to go through quite a bit of physical therapy. But what about the incredible emotional scars? Jessica was an ex-girlfriend, but a friend still nonetheless, and apparently important enough to travel out of state to visit and see the midnight premiere of an exciting movie with. What do you do with yourself, having been right there to witness the loss of someone so precious to you?
I wasn’t directly related to any of the issues out of Aurora aside from having been classmates with people who were there. But I felt such pain for those involved with such senseless violence. I sent a tweet, asking for prayers for my old classmate.
This is when someone sent a tweet back at me in return. “We’re trying to find my cousin. Was your friend’s friend named Matt?”
No… someone was lost… but what could I do? I offered to send out tweets to get retweeted to find the individual.
“His name is Matt McQuinn. He is unaccounted for. Either lost in the shuffle or one of the 10in the theater. If you hear anything let me know please. Victims sevices had no news for his mom”
And so I tweeted. I hoped that somebody out there had the answers this person was looking for. Quickly, the retweets started piling up. But sadly, it didn’t come up with the results we were looking for.
The irony was, I’d already made my own plans to see The Dark Knight Rises tonight. I couldn’t stay by Twitter to keep my finger on the pulse, to see if Matt had been found. So, for three hours, I went without knowing. Until I got out of the theater and checked Twitter on my phone.
“You can call off the search. Matt didn’t make it. Thanks for trying.”
I stood outside the theater for a moment, staring down at my phone in the palm of my hand. I felt so helpless. I was so far away, and there was nothing I could do. My stupid tweets didn’t mean anything. I was powerless against the monster that appeared in that theater just the other night.
And then I cried.
I just stood outside the doors of the theater and I cried.
“I wasn’t even directly involved. What’s wrong with me?”
You know what’s crazy? The Dark Knight Rises was an excellent movie. So deserving of its hype and all the money it made just in its midnight showings alone. And everyone who went to that Colorado theater last night just wanted to share in the excitement of this experience. They all wanted to see their hero on the big screen, the last movie in this particular chain. They were all so excited that they couldn’t possibly wait for another showing. It was first or nothing.
And one crazed mid-twenties man ruined it. For everyone.
And he ruined it in such a number of ways. In all the selfish ways one can think of… he ruined the possibility of fun excitement for passionate fans, the ones you so often see at science fiction, fantasy, or hero movies, the ones who go in costume because they’re that passionate about a franchise. You can forget that for a while. Ruined it for people who choose to exercise their right to bear arms. You can look forward to ridiculous debates on gun control for a while now, too. “Everyone should have guns!” “No one should have guns!” At bare minimum, he ruined what was going to be a good night for a theater packed to the brim with people.
And at worst, he ruined and stole lives.
And for what? We’ll learn motivation as the days pass, that is to be certain. But no matter what the motivation was, there will never be a REAL reason. There’s NEVER a good enough reason for what happened. The people in that theater were there for an innocent pastime and were undeserving of the terror that so very casually walked in through that front exit door. You can label it with a very simple, clear answer: Insanity. However, does that in the slightest justify the action? In personal belief, no, it doesn’t. In my opinion, “insanity” is different from “intelligence”. James Holmes very clearly and deliberately planned this attack out in advance. It was clearly premeditated. At the very least, he was “smart” enough to go to different locations over the last couple of months to purchase his weapons and ammunition, cover his apartment in a ridiculous amount of booby traps. He even seemed to want to do all of this looking like, and calling himself, “The Joker”.
It sounds like he likely did exactly what he wanted to accomplish. He became a super villain.
Perhaps by me labeling him as such, I’ve given him exactly what he was looking for. He’s gotten his name in history. I can’t think of any other “logical” reason behind any of it, other than it’s just want he wanted to do for himself. After all, he didn’t even kill himself or let himself get shot by the police after the event. How many mass shootings have you heard of where the shooter doesn’t off himself afterwards? He let himself be taken in peacefully. He wanted to see it unfold just as much as any of us do.
Disgusting. Crazy, painful, and disgusting.
And it just begs the question. Where are the real super heroes?
Where is the real Batman?
I think people really do need heroes of some variety. Someone they can look up to. Someone they can believe in. We can say that we have real heroes of a variety. Our military forces, police officers, fire fighters, EMS, etc. And they do amazing services and put their lives at risk every day. They do jobs that are deserving of our utmost respect.
And yet hundreds of emergency phone calls to the police didn’t save over 70 people last night. James did exactly as much shooting as he had planned on doing. He shot, and he just kept shooting until he was done. And once he was done he just casually walked right back out the same door he came in through. He walked right into the arms of police, sure. But where were they? They couldn’t be there fast enough to save the lives of 12 of those people, or stop the injuries of dozens and dozens more. And that’s not entirely their fault. They’re only human. They can only get there so fast.
But horrendous events like these make you wish for a hero. A REAL hero. Someone to swoop in and save the day. Stop the bad guys. And then dash away without expecting a word of thanks.
It’s an unreal
istic desire. I know. But it doesn’t mean we don’t dream of it. A hero, just like the Batman we’ve seen appear on the big screen this weekend. Someone who isn’t afraid to risk his own life to save the lives of countless others in a city he loves, despite the fact that that very same city has shown no love for him.
Or at the very least, I wish I could say I had more power. The power to do something about it all myself. I will never see a super hero. I will never be a super hero. But I wish for something greater than what we have so dearly.
My prayers… my prayers for the friends, the families, the fallen. I’m praying terribly hard for everyone even remotely involved with these tragic events tonight. Godspeed, and please take care of yourselves. Take care of yourselves, while we continue to search for our heroes.