The Aurora shooting anniversary is Saturday, marking one year since gunman James Holmes burst into a packed theater showing a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises and opening fire on the crowd.
After one year has passed, victims are still coping to recover from the physical wounds and psychological trauma of the mass shooting.
Stefan Morton, a 20-year-old who was paralyzed from the neck down in the shooting, is one of those. He appeared at a prayer service ahead of Aurora shooting anniversary, one in which pastor Chris Hill told the 3,000 people in attendance that better days were to come.
“We believe morning is coming to Aurora,” Hill said. “Aurora means the dawn.”
Hill then addressed Morton, telling him: “We’ve got your back!”
Morton was joined by another guest, 26-year-old Ashley Moser. She lost her 6-year-old daughter Veronica in the shooting and was paralyzed from the waist down. Moser, who was pregnant at the time of the shooting, would go on to miscarry from the trauma.
“I’ve been amazed at the resiliency of our community and how it’s pulled together. But the pain is still there,” Hill told The Denver Post before the service.
For some, the physical recovery is far from over. Caleb Medley was shot in the head by Holmes, sending him into a coma. Four days later in the same hospital, his wife Katie gave birth to their first child, Hugo.
Caleb would spend two months in the coma, and now has returned home where he had daily therapy to learn to walk and talk again. He said his dream is to one day hold his son’s hand.
“Yes, he’ll do it, I believe it. If anyone can do it, Caleb can do it,” said Medley.
Though the community has come together to heal, as the Aurora shooting anniversary approaches they have not been able to put it fully behind them. The trial of accused shooter James Holmes has yet to begin, with his lawyers seeking a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. They say he was in the “throes of a psychotic episode” at the time of the shooting.