Couple in Colo. Theater Shooting Escape With Baby and Toddler in Tow

Jamie Rohrs and Patricia Legarreta had planned to sit by shooter's entrance.

ByABC News
July 20, 2012, 12:20 PM

July 20, 2012 — -- A young couple who'd recently moved from New Mexico and were attending the Aurora, Colo., midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" with their children said they had planned to sit in the front row by the exit in which a gunman entered and allegedly killed at least 12 people.

Jamie Rohrs, 25, said that before the movie started, he and his fiancee, Patricia Legarreta, also 25, had opted for seats in the second-floor balcony. Rohrs held their 4-month-old son, Ethan, while Legarreta sat next to her 4-year-old daughter, Azeria, who was asleep with her head in her mother's lap.

"Where the gunman came in, we were going to sit right there," Rohrs told ABC News today. "God was definitely with us and watching over us. I just thank God we sat where we did and showed up late."

Fifteen minutes into the movie, Legarreta said, someone walked into the theater from the exit and threw something. Police now allege that James Holmes, 24, burst into the movie house and started shooting patrons, killing at least 12 and injuring at least 50.

Legarreta said that after seeing smoke and then hearing gunshots, she heard Rohrs yell for her to get on the ground.

"I threw my daughter on the floor," she said. "I just remember thinking my fiance has my son."

Legarreta said she was wounded in her leg as she stood to move between her daughter and the gun shots.

"It was headed toward my daughter," she said through tears today. "Had I not moved her -- I just moved her in front of me. ... I don't know what would happened to her."

Legarreta said she had shrapnel in her leg from the upper thigh to the ankle. While she was on the floor, she said, she could see her 4-month-old baby on the ground near the stairs. Legarreta said she did not know the whereabouts of Rohrs.

"At that point, I reached out and I grabbed him and pulled him in to me," she said. "I didn't even check my leg until we were out in the parking lot."

Rohrs, who had Ethan, said he jumped over the seat with the baby in his arms. He said he considered lying on the ground and playing dead but feared for his son's life.

"I'm trying to keep him low. ... And he's crying," Rohrs said. "People are running all over. I'm tripping and falling. I don't know if I laid him down or sat him down. I'm wondering maybe there's more of them. [I'm thinking] 'He's crying and they're going to come get me.' I look up to see if I can run. I'm ducking, dodging, turning left, turning right. ... Every time you hear a gun shot, it's like 'Oh, I'm dead.'"

"I'm just disoriented after I put him down," Rohrs said. "I'm just waiting for me to hit the ground and fall down dead. You could see the gunfire and people are dropping."

He said he wondered where Ethan was but realized he could not go back to get him. Rohrs finally jumped over the balcony and ended up outside.

"It just felt like the worst thing ever because my son's still in there," he told ABC News. "My girlfriend is still in there. I'm out here. Who leaves their child there?"

He said Legarreta called him from another phone and he drove back to the theater. They were eventually taken to the hospital and released.

In an interview with ABC News, Legaretta said she just ran as fast as she could with the baby and her daughter when the gunshots stopped.

"[I just said] 'I'm not going to die in here. Me and my kids are not going to die in this building,'" she said. "I'm just happy that we got our kids out. It was so hard sitting in the hospital. ... Thinking of all the people that we saw. Hoping and praying that they got out."

Rohrs said the two took their children to the show because they figured they'd sleep through it.

"We just moved here from New Mexico," he said. "We have to go out. We have to do things. You don't think you're going to get shot. You're just living your life."