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Her last hours chronicled before Batman shooting

21 july 2012, 13:44
0
Jessica Ghawi. ©AFP
Jessica Ghawi. ©AFP
Jessica Ghawi had escaped a mall shooting in Toronto weeks ago when an "odd feeling" led her outside, and then blogged about how fortunate she was, AFP reports.

But in an ironic and tragic twist of fate, Ghawi died in Friday's Colorado theater shooting spree, one of 12 fatalities in the mass killing.

Ghawi, a sports blogger who had aspirations of becoming a television reporter, had moved from Texas to Colorado to pursue her career and adopted the pen name Jessica Redfield.

Her final moments were chronicled in a series of Twitter messages, including one just before the deadly shooting spree, and in a blog post by her brother.

"MOVIE DOESN'T START FOR 20 MINUTES," she tweeted just ahead of the shooting early Friday at a packed premiere of the latest Batman movie in the Denver area that killed at least 12 people and left around 40 others wounded.

Hours earlier, she had a Twitter conversation with colleague Jesse Spector about the film. She wrote, "@jessespector you aren't seeing it tonight?!" When he replied "Nope" she tweeted back, "psh. Loser!"

The victim's brother, Jordan Ghawi, wrote a blog post describing his learning the news.

"At approximately 0215 CST, I received an hysterical, and almost unintelligible, phone call from my mother stating that my sister, Jessica Ghawi, had been shot while attending the midnight showing of 'The Dark Knight Rises' in Denver, CO," he said.

"I was able to contact the man that was with my sister, mutual friend Brent Lowak, who stated that they were in the theater when an incendiary device was fired into the crowd and that shots rang out immediately afterwards," he added.

"Brent further stated that he took two rounds and that my sister took one round followed by an additional round, which appeared to strike her in the head."

He later updated the account after speaking with Lowak:

"Jessica and Brent were seated in the middle portion of the theatre when a device was thrown into the theatre that produced a 'hissing' sound," he said in the blog.

"The theatre than began to fill with smoke which is when patrons began to move from their seats. At that time, shots were fired... Brent then heard Jessica scream and noticed that she was struck by a round in the leg.

"Brent, began holding pressure on the wound and attempted to calm Jessica... While still administering first aid, Brent noticed that Jessica was no longer screaming."

Lowak told the brother that he "saw what appeared to be an entry wound to her head" before she died, and he then escaped. "Brent's actions are nothing but heroic," Jordan Ghawi wrote.

Ghawi recently moved to Denver from San Antonio.

"You can find me in the TV studio, NHL arena/locker room, on a plane, or writing. Southern. Sarcastic. Sass.Class.Crass. Grammar snob," said her Twitter profile.

The killing prompted an outpouring of grief and sympathy from friends and colleagues.

"My friend Jessica Ghawi was killed in the #Aurora Shooting - she was an aspiring sportscaster - she will be missed," wrote television journalist Natalie Tejeda.

"I want her to be remembered as an amazing, vivacious, feisty woman!"

Ghawi, who wrote a hockey blog under the name Jessica Redfield, calling herself "Pucktress," and had commented about last month's Toronto shooting in a June 5 blog post.

"This empty, almost sickening feeling won't go away," she wrote.

"An odd feeling which led me to go outside and unknowingly out of harm's way. It's hard for me to wrap my mind around how a weird feeling saved me from being in the middle of a deadly shooting," she added.

"I say all the time that every moment we have to live our life is a blessing. So often I have found myself taking it for granted.

"Every hug from a family member. Every laugh we share with friends. Even the times of solitude are all blessings. Every second of every day is a gift."

Mourning Ghawi, Spector tweeted: "Words are useless. Guns more so. If you ever had any interaction with @JessicaRedfield, you know the world is much worse off without her."


By Rob Lever

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