Crowds of mourners gathered across Aurora, Colo., on Saturday in efforts to heal exactly one year after 24-year-old James Holmes walked into a crowded midnight screening of the Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises” and opened fire. Twelve people were killed—including a six-year-old girl—and another 70 were injured, but Aurora will not be defined by unthinkable tragedy, the city’s mayor said.
“One year ago the peace of our community was shattered and our world was changed forever. We are still seeking answers and a sense of justice to what seems incomprehensible,” said Mayor Steve Hogan.
“While last year’s tragic events tested us as individuals and as a city, it’s important to remember that one senseless act does not, cannot, and will not define us as a community.”
Aurora, the third-largest city in Colorado, marked the one-year anniversary of the shooting with a “Day of Remembrance” series of events honoring victims. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper joined Hogan at the ceremony to offer consoling words to mourning residents.
“Part of remembering the incredible loss that happened a year ago is being able to appreciate how incredibly beautiful this day is and how we almost have an obligation to immerse ourselves in life and commit ourselves more strongly not just to our family or our friends and people we know, but to those who we don’t know, who without a moment’s warning might need our help, and our support, and our service,” said Hickenlooper .
At ceremonies and events across state, volunteers and grieving Coloradans read the names of the victims in the tragedy, as well as the names of those lost in other instances of gun-related violence across the country. Last year saw some of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history—from the massacre in Aurora to the school shooting tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary that took the lives of 20 children and six adults in December.
The aftermath of the tragedy in Aurora became a catalyst for calls on tighter gun laws across the country after it took Holmes a mere two minutes to kill and injure scores of movie-goers in the crowded theater.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns, an organization headed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, held a vigil in Aurora on Friday to honor the victims and highlight the toll of gun violence. Survivor Stephen Barton read the names of the shooting victims as volunteers and participants held signs reading “no more names.”
President Obama on Saturday joined the calls to end gun violence and marked the anniversary in tweeting:
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) July 20, 2013