At service, Colorado shooting victim’s vitality remembered
AURORA, Colorado (CNN) — They laughed, they cried, they celebrated a young life lost too soon.
Those attending Jessica Ghawi’s memorial service Saturday at a San Antonio church heard numerous adjectives describing the hockey fan and aspiring sports broadcaster.
“Spitfire.” “Spunky.” “Clumsy.” “Tough.”
The descriptions punctuated a service that lauded the life of a woman killed while in pursuit of her dreams.
Ghawi was among the 12 killed in the July 20 mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Dozens of others were wounded.
Her service was one of three held Saturday for victims of the massacre. Matt McQuinn was remembered in Springfield, Ohio, and a private funeral was held in Illinois for John T. Larimer.
Ghawi’s family created the Jessica Redfield Sports Journalism Scholarship Fund in her name to help others who dream of pursuing careers in journalism. Ghawi, 24, went by the name Jessica Redfield on-air.
Several speakers humorously recalled when Ghawi, an intern wearing high heels, fell three times on the ice while interviewing members of the San Antonio Rampage hockey club. A video of the falls was shown at the service.
Pastor Robert Emmitt of Community Bible Church said Ghawi — despite the pain and embarrassment — got back up. He called her a “strong-willed child.”
Ghawi, who moved to the Denver area to pursue her career dreams, narrowly avoided another shooting incident in Toronto just last month — an incident that prompted her to reflect on life on her blog. The Toronto shooting at the Eaton Centre left one person dead and seven injured.
“I was shown how fragile life was on Saturday. I saw the terror on bystanders’ faces. I saw the victims of a senseless crime. I saw lives change,” she wrote at the time. “I was reminded that we don’t know when or where our time on Earth will end. When or where we will breathe our last breath.”
The young woman’s boyfriend, minor league hockey player Jay Meloff, said, “She drank in life and celebrated the things that made us uniquely us.”
Friend Peter Burns said Ghawi wanted to establish a charity to provide hockey gear for families that lost belongings in recent wildfires.
In Ohio, McQuinn’s family is still trying to make sense of his heroic death.
His uncle, Herb Shaffer, calls McQuinn’s death “bittersweet.”
“We hated to lose him,” Shaffer told CNN Ohio affiliate WKEF on the eve of the funeral. “You can’t replace a person. But at the same time for him to be willing to sacrifice his life.”
McQuinn, 27, died shielding his girlfriend, Samantha Yowler, during the shooting, family attorney Rob Scott has said.
Larimer’s service was held in Crystal Lake, Illinois, accompanied by full military honors.
The Navy petty officer 3rd class, 27, had been in the military for about one year.
Meanwhile, a court document filed Friday showed suspect James Holmes was a patient of a University of Colorado psychiatrist before last week’s attack at a movie theater that killed 12 people and wounded scores.
The disclosure was in a request by Holmes for authorities to immediately hand over a package he sent to Dr. Lynne Fenton at the university’s Anschutz Medical Campus.
According to Holmes’ request, the package seized by authorities under a July 23 search warrant was a protected communication.
“The materials contained in that package include communications from Mr. Holmes to Dr. Fenton that Mr. Holmes asserts are privileged,” said the document filed by public defenders representing Holmes. “Mr. Holmes was a psychiatric patient of Dr. Fenton, and his communications with her are protected.”
In response, prosecutors asked for Arapahoe County District Judge William Sylvester to deny the request by Holmes, saying it contained inaccuracies including claims of media leaks by government officials that in reality may have been fabricated by news organizations.
Sylvester granted a hearing on the request for Monday, the same day that Holmes is scheduled to be formally charged in the case.
Eleven wounded survivors remained hospitalized Friday at three facilities, including five in critical condition.
Holmes allegedly opened fire in the theater on July 20 during the midnight premiere of the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises.” The suspect, who identified himself to police as “the Joker,” remained in custody after being ordered held without bond earlier this week, and will be formally charged on Monday.
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