- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 24, 2012

DENVER — With two of the most horrific mass killings of modern times occurring in their state, Coloradans are bristling at the suggestion that their state is somehow more dangerous or prone to violence than others.

Gov. John Hickenlooper called Colorado “a safe state” in the aftermath of Friday’s Aurora theater massacre, and many beleaguered Coloradans agree with him, despite the national conversation about whether the state has somehow become a magnet for mass killings.

“I think it’s just a coincidence. I don’t think you can say that Colorado is where mass shootings happen,” Sarah Young, 17, of Highlands Ranch said as she waited for her team to play in a fast-pitch softball tournament over the weekend. “I feel like it’s just bad timing.”

Her teammate Stephanie Delgado, 19, called Colorado “one of the safest places you can live,” even though she lives in Aurora near the Century 16 theater, where a gunman killed 12 and wounded 58 at a midnight premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises.” Would she ever go to that theater again? “I would definitely go back to that theater. It’s one of my favorite theaters,” Miss Delgado said. “As long as it’s not a premiere, I would go.”

Christian Bale, the star of “The Dark Knight Rises,” visited victims of the shooting Tuesday at the Medical Center of Aurora. Photos of the actor, who plays Batman in the film, posing with wounded moviegoers appeared on various social media websites.

Separately, the families of the dead were turning to the business of burying their loved ones.

A service for A.J. Boik, an 18-year-old high school graduate, was set for Friday in Aurora. The family has asked that news media stay away from the service.

A full military funeral and burial is planned for Aug. 3 in Reno, Nev., for Jonathan Blunk, 26, who served three tours in the Middle East with the Navy and planned to re-enlist with the goal of becoming a Navy SEAL.

In San Diego, where the family of suspected shooter James Holmes lives, family attorney Lisa Damiani said Tuesday that “everyone’s concerned” about the possibility of the death penalty. When asked whether they stood by Mr. Holmes, Ms. Damiani said, “Yes, they do. He’s their son.”

In June, Mr. Holmes quit a 35-student doctorate program in neuroscience for reasons that aren’t clear. He earlier took an intense oral exam that marks the end of the first year. University of Colorado Denver officials, citing privacy concerns, would not say whether he passed.

The judge in his trial has issued an order barring attorneys in the case from publicly commenting on matters including evidence, whether a plea deal is in the works or results of any examinations.

Although Coloradans may feel like they live in a safe state, most undoubtedly were thinking “not again” after waking Friday to news of the theater killings.

The state has borne its share of gun-related mass tragedies and then some.

The list includes the 1993 Chuck E. Cheese shooting, in which Nathan Dunlap killed four employees of the restaurant in Englewood; the notorious 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, in which two teenage gunmen killed 12 students and a teacher before taking their own lives; and the 2007 New Life Church rampage, in which a lone gunman killed two missionaries in Arvada and three churchgoers in Colorado Springs over two days. He committed suicide after being wounded by a plainclothes church security officer.

The Denver Post acknowledged in an editorial that “some observers are probably going to wonder whether Colorado is especially prone to incubate murderous madmen — for lack of a better description — who seek out innocent targets in public venues given the array of incidents in recent years.”

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