Aurora's Other Massacre Victims' 20-Year Wait for Justice


Aurora, Colorado's Other Massacre

Though Holmes has not been charged with capital murder, Arapahoe County DA Carol Chambers said after Holmes' hearing that she is talking with victims and their family members about the potential pursuit of the death penalty.

"If the death penalty is sought, that's a very long process that impacts [victims' and family members'] for years," she said.

When the Crowell's heard about the shooting in Century 16's theater nine, they were "startled and saddened." The movie theater is less than two miles from their home.

As two of the very few people who can truly understand what the families of the 12 killed are feeling, the Crowell's stand by their decision to pursue the death penalty nearly two decades ago and they believe Holmes deserves the same.

"[Holmes] may plead insanity, but I don't think he was crazy enough to get him off the hook," Bob Crowell said. "I think he should be held responsible and he should get the death penalty way before five years. There's no need to delay."

Crowell said that for the survivors--both those who survived the shooting and the families of those who were killed--life will never be the same.

"I think that their whole lives will be altered," he said. "In other words, there's such a thing as PTSD [Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder] for military members in combat. Well, these people have been exposed to something just as horrible as military combat and a lot of them are going to be altered so that they are not the people they would be, had this not happened. So, there's a lot of damage there and the families of those that were killed are going to be suffering just as we've suffered for a number of years."

Like the Crowell's, Russell Foltz-Smith, 35, has been suffering from the Chuck E. Cheese's shooting's residual trauma, an event that has haunted him for more than half of his life.

Foltz-Smith was another 17-year-old employee of the Chuck E. Cheese's at the time of the shooting. He had traded shifts with Bobby Stephens, the lone survivor, the night of the shooting. When Foltz-Smith was about to leave the restaurant, he got one final order for a single sandwich, which he recalled thinking was "really weird."

"It was 9:30 p.m. at a Chuck E. Cheese's on a school night. Nobody is there," Foltz-Smith told He clearly remembered having a strange feeling about the single man sitting near the door. He served the sandwich, cleaned up, said goodbye to his friends and co-workers and headed home, with the stranger at the door as the last person he saw in the restaurant.

"I got home and started to brush my teeth and then it came on the news that something had happened," he said. "I remember watching with a toothbrush hanging out of my mouth."

As he watched in horror, Foltz-Smith recalled having two distinct thoughts: "I was there. I was literally just there," and, "I know who did it."

He struggled with the people who tried to console him in the days and weeks following the shooting.

"People around you trying to console you, trying to soothe you, trying to get you back to a place," he said, trailing off. "It's almost like the world tries to implant in you how you're supposed to feel….'It's okay. There's a plan. Things happen.' It didn't make me feel okay. It just made me feel terrible. It's not consoling to hear these things. I don't understand what kind of plan would account for four other people dying."

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