Century Aurora Theater

Exterior of Century Aurora Theater after the remembrance ceremony on Jan. 17, 2013 in Aurora, CO. Credit: Robert Linn.

Three years after one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history, a jury has found 27-year-old shooter James Holmes guilty on 165 counts, including two counts of first-degree murder for each of the twelve victims of the massacre.

Holmes opened fire July 20, 2012 during the midnight premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises” at the Century 16 Theater in Aurora, Colo. Twelve people were killed and 70 more were injured.

Many of the victims and their families were in the courtroom during Thursday’s conviction, with emotions ranging from relief and peace to sadness and anger.


“A weight has lifted,” one survivor told ABC News. Another survivor confided that he was feeling both relief and sadness.

At least two of the twelve victims were Catholic: Alex Sullivan and Alexander (A.J.) Boik.

The year before his death was a big one for 27-year-old Sullivan. He was confirmed as an adult at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Aurora and celebrated his marriage to his wife, Cassandra.

Just days after Sullivan’s tragic death, St. Michael’s pastor Father Terry Kissell reassured parishioners of the hope they can find in Christ – even in the darkest times.

“Though there is darkness and confusion and pain, we can’t forget that there will come a new day, a new dawn when there will be no more suffering, no more tears and no more sadness,” Fr. Kissell said.

Parishioner Jimmy Piralla went through the RCIA program with Sullivan the year before the shooting. Piralla was visibly shaken by the news of Sullivan’s death.

“It really makes you appreciate your family members and your loved ones,” Piralla said.


He said his friend’s death also makes him appreciate the choice he made to become Catholic.

“It just affirms to me that Christ was calling Alex, because he was confirmed last year,” Piralla said. “It makes me even more sure that the choices I’ve made to become Catholic were the right decisions.”

Boik was eighteen and had graduated from high school just weeks before his death. He reportedly planned to start classes at a Denver art school. His family said Boik dreamed of teaching art and opening his own studio.

“He was a talented young man … with a warm and loving heart,” the family said.

Boik’s pastor Father Martin Lolly said he “can’t help but smile” at memories of Boik, who loved life so much he “wanted to teach others how to create art that would beautify and enhance (it).”

At Boik’s funeral Mass, Fr. Lolly reflected that God allows evil in order to allow and inspire good.

“While none of us can know precisely the mind of God, it is … consistently proven that the response to evil acts is more powerful acts of kindness, compassion and courage,” Fr. Lally said July 28.

“Our presence here is a true sign that love is more powerful that evil; that a gentle presence is stronger than bullets.”

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.