Theater shooting survivor testifies, gets criticized about fleeing without family

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CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Jamie Rohrs took the witness stand during the Aurora theater shooting trial on Wednesday, reigniting a debate about the actions he took to survive the July 20, 2012, shooting.

Rohrs testified about the agonizing decision he made to flee the theater without his kids and girlfriend, now his wife.

“Whoever is doing this they're coming to kill us,” Rohrs recalled thinking as shots were fired.

Rohrs testified that as he was trying to find an exit, he jumped over a high railing trying to escape gunfire.

"I have to jump or I'm going to die," he said.

Not knowing whether the shooting was still ongoing, Rohrs said he agonized about whether to risk running back into the blood-soaked theater or fleeing in an effort to get help.

Rohrs also recalled getting in his truck, driving across the parking lot to the mall area and continually calling Patricia, his then-girlfriend and now-wife.

Hours later, Rohrs said he received a call from Patricia, notifying him the kids were safe with her and that she had been shot.

Many on social media criticized Rohrs for not staying to protect his family.

Others said he made the right decision and that it's hard to criticize someone's actions in that type of situation.

RELATED: Watch Wednesday’s testimony in its entirety

Fellow survivor Gage Hankins also took the stand. Then just 18, Hankins was watching a the same film in Theater 8 on the night of July 20, 2012, and was hit in the arm by a bullet fired from Theater 9.

Fighting a pronounced stutter, Hankins said he was in Denver for a conference for fellow stutterers in when he chose to attend the movie.

"I stood up and said oh f***, what is this, what the f*** is this?" Hankins testified, recounting the moment he saw the blood streaming down his arm.

Many took to social media to commend Hankins for taking the stand in spite of his speech impediment.

Hankins responded on Twitter and said it was difficult.

RELATED: Aurora theater shooting victims remembered

District Court Judge Carlos Samour Jr. addressed many of the defense's objections that dealt with pictures that showed blood of the victims. In explaining his reasoning for overruling the objections, Samour said the blood "was not gratuitously used" by the prosecution.

Samour said the jury would "be expecting some blood shown" in a case that involved 12 who were killed and 70 more who were injured.

"The defendant  has a constitutional right to fair trial," Samour said. "He does not have a constitutional right to a sanitized trial."

RELATED: Complete, in-depth coverage of the theater trial

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