It was easy to see Aurora up close from far away over the past couple of weeks since the July 20 Batman movie massacre.
While this sprawling community of some 330,000 people was living the terror and anguish James Holmes wrought on Aurora, the rest of the world was watching us react.
By watching ourselves through the national media, Aurora learned just how impressive our community is. There are endless questions still to be answered about the night that terror struck hundreds of midnight movie-goers at the Century 16 Aurora theater. But there’s no doubt that Aurora’s police, fire and other rescuers did a heroic job in racing to a war zone to save as many people as they did.
In the hours and days after the massacre, time and again, investigators made it clear why Aurora has long been consulted as experts in a variety of police policies, procedures and projects. It’s impractical for any city to spend what it would actually take to be “prepared” for such massacre, but it was clear to the community and the world that Aurora’s police and fire teams were as prepared as any could be for such an event.
Likewise, actions and comments made by Arapahoe County District Attorney Carol Chambers made it obvious that this already complicated case will be handled with integrity and intelligence from the onset. There were no televised theatrics, no wild threats or promises to get justice for victims. Chambers simply made it clear that prosecutors would ensure laws would be upheld, and due process would be honored.
Aurora’s Mayor Steve Hogan gave the world a clear picture of how devastating the massacre was to Aurora. But he and Police Chief Dan Oates also made it clear that in middle of one of the country’s most tragic shootings, Aurora was able to keep it together, defuse bombs and traps laid out in the suspect’s apartment a few miles away, and find a way forward.
These two city leaders and many others showed the world that Aurora was stunned by this staggering massacre, but the city has never once stumbled during the crisis.
This is a place where our own critically injured victims go to have their lives saved, just as people from all over the country come to Aurora for unparalleled medical treatment on the Fitzsimons and Medical Center of Aurora campuses.
While those who came to Aurora’s rescue at the front lines of this catastrophe are to be soundly lauded, so, too, are the thousands of others behind the scenes or out of the spotlight. They are the ones who kept Aurora together during the crisis, and they are pulling the city out of a natural wave of despair. Fellow theater patrons from that night, city workers, hospital bureaucrats, school employees, family members, convenience store clerks and restaurant cooks also proved what a strong and remarkable community Aurora really is.
While Holmes and people like him have stolen our sense of security, we must give credit to those who came to Aurora’s aid to make us feel certain that the community truly stands ready to take on the worst that can happen — and prevail.