CINCINNATI | Jessica Ghawi was an aspiring sports journalist, a pretty, blue-eyed redhead who had survived a shooting at a Toronto mall only to be killed less than two months later in a massacre at a Colorado movie theater.
Matt McQuinn had just moved to Colorado from Ohio last fall with his girlfriend, Samantha Yowler. He saved Yowler in the same movie theater by diving in front of her and taking three bullets.
The two were strangers but forever will be linked in death as two of the 12 people killed during the midnight opening of “The Dark Knight Rises” just more than a week ago on July 20. Both will be laid to rest Saturday, McQuinn in his western Ohio hometown of Springfield and Ghawi in her hometown of San Antonio.
James Holmes, a 24-year-old former doctoral student studying neuroscience, is accused of opening fire on the theater, killing 12 people and injuring 58. He is due to be formally charged at a court hearing Monday in Colorado.
McQuinn, 27, was one of three men in the theater now being hailed as heroes for dying while shielding their girlfriends from gunfire.
McQuinn’s girlfriend was shot in the knee and survived. It was unclear Friday whether she was well enough to attend the funeral.
Her 32-year-old brother, Nick Yowler, who also shielded his sister, wasn’t injured.
Ghawi, a 24-year-old aspiring sports journalist who moved to Colorado about a year ago, survived a June 2 shooting at a Toronto mall that left two dead and several injured. She blogged about the experience, writing that it reminded her “how fragile life was.”
“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,” Ghawi wrote.
She was at the movie theater that night with her close friend, Brent Lowak.
Lowak’s mother, Sue Greene, told reporters this week that the two were sitting in the sixth or seventh row when Lowak heard the hiss of gas.
Lowak and Ghawi ducked when they heard the sound, and Ghawi screamed as a bullet pierced her leg, Greene said.
Lowak — who has been studying to become an emergency medical technician — applied pressure to Ghawi’s wound as she screamed. Lowak realized she had been shot again when she stopped screaming, and she was soon dead.
“Only then did he leave her,” Greene said.
Lowak, who couldn’t walk because he had been shot, crawled away and managed to find his way to a van taking victims to the hospital.
He took his first steps after the shooting on Sunday and told his mother that he desperately wanted to recover enough to attend his friend’s memorial service. It was unclear Friday whether he was going to make it there.
Follow Amanda Lee Myers on Twitter at https://twitter.com/AmandaLeeAP.