An aspiring sports reporter who escaped a deadly shooting in a Toronto mall last month was among the 12 killed in the massacre at a Dener-area movie theater where "Batman: The Dark Knight Rises" was playing early Friday.
KDVR reports that Jessica Ghawi, who interned in the FOX 31 Denver sports department, tweeted early Friday morning from the movie theater just before the shooting occurred about 20 minutes in to the midnight showing of “The Dark Night Rises” in Aurora.
Ghawi, who went by the name Jessica Redfield in her on-air role, narrowly escaped a June 2 shooting at a Toronto shopping mall that left one person dead and four others injured. Ghawi wrote a now-chilling post on her blog about how she left that scene just moments before that shooting took place.
"This empty, almost sickening feeling won’t go away"
- Jessica Ghawi, after surviving a mall shooting in June
“This empty, almost sickening feeling won’t go away,” she wrote. “I noticed this feeling when I was in the Eaton Center in Toronto just seconds before someone opened fire in the food court. 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.”
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Jordan Ghawi told The Associated Press his sister's death comes as a "complete and utter shock."
He has been using his blog and Twitter account to update what he knew about his sister's condition throughout the ordeal. He also appeared on the Today Show.
Jordan Ghawi said on his website that a man who was with his sister at the theater described the chaos, saying he and Jessica Ghawi dropped to take cover when the gunman first started shooting. Jessica Ghawi was shot in the leg, her brother wrote, describing details relayed to him by a man identified on the blog only as a mutual friend named Brent.
Jessica Ghawi began screaming when she was shot, and the man with her tried to calm her and stop the bleeding, according to Jordan Ghawi.
The man was then shot, but he continued attending to Jessica Ghawi's wound before he realized she had stopped screaming, Jordan Ghawi stated. The man said Jessica Ghawi had been shot in the head.
Jordan Ghawi said the friend escaped the theater after being shot twice, but was expected to survive. Jordan Ghawi also praised the man, saying his "actions are nothing but heroic."
Jessica Ghawi, 24, moved to Denver from Texas about a year ago and friends and colleagues described her as outgoing, smart and witty.
"She was always kind of a sponge as far as how she could be an even better journalist and sports broadcaster," said Peter Burns, a radio sports show host with Mile High Sports Radio in Denver, where Ghawi recently interned.
Zubin Mehenti, a former FOX31 Denver sports anchor who mentored Ghawi during her internship at the station, said he remembers Ghawi for her great personality.
“She loved the NHL, that’s what always stuck out,” Mehenti said. “She was an active blogger and wanted to be a host with an NHL team.
“She was pretty enterprising, and one of the few interns we had who came from out of state. Being an NHL broadcaster was her dream.”
Ghawi blogged at length about surviving the Eaton Centre mall shooting in Toronto that killed two people and sent several others to the hospital. Burns and his girlfriend, Lauren Anuskewicz, both said the blog reflected everything she told them about that incident.
"She was like, `You guys would never believe what happened,"' Anuskewicz said.
Ghawi wrote of the shooting: "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. 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."
Anuskewicz said, "It obviously was a very scary situation.
"And to be just so close to it," she added. "It's just impossible to imagine that not even a month and a half later this would happen, and she would be involved. It's just awful."
Yet, Burns said, Ghawi seemed more enlivened than intimidated by surviving that shooting.
"After the Toronto incident, I think she even looked at that like, `Hey, even after that, I'm able to pursue my dream," he said.
Burns said he was close to Ghawi's family. He moved to Denver from Texas a few years ago and talked with Ghawi about establishing a sports radio career there, he said.
"She scrounged up some money and came here to Denver without really knowing anybody besides myself," Burns said.
He added that she "quickly became well known in the sports community because of her hard work."
Adrian Dater, hockey writer for the Denver Post, said Ghawi particularly liked hockey and was serious about getting a full-time job in the sports media, saying she was ambitious "and asked me a lot of questions about the business."
Another former colleague, Mike Taylor, a sports host at KTKR-AM in San Antonio described how she reluctantly changed her name for her career, taking the name "Redfield" as a play on her red hair because it was easier to say than her given name.
Jessica Ghawi was a prolific social media user under the new name. Her last tweet stated in all capital letters, "movie doesn't start for 20 minutes."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.