DENVER — It has been nearly four years since the Aurora theater shooting and months since the trial, but for many victims’ advocates and service groups, the recognition is just beginning.
On Thursday, 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler handed out the first annual Crime Victim Service Awards, with many going to the people and groups who helped the victim’s of the shooting and the ensuing trial that concluded last year.
The accolades for the Aurora Police Department officers and victims’ advocates might come long after their heroic acts, but the trial made it difficult to single them out.
“They followed their hearts and saved so many lives because of it,” said Heather Dearman, cousin of Ashley Moser, who was paralyzed in the theater shooting and lost her 6-year-old daughter. “(Ashley) is so grateful and thankful to all of the police officers. I mean, one of them saved her life and drove her to the hospital. There was another officer in the back of the car with her keeping her alive.”
“Nobody signs up for Beirut in a movie theater and that`s what these folks did,” Brauchler said before handing out the awards.
“Words can never express how much you guys mean to me and I’m so thankful that I met you,” shooting victim Maria Carbonell said.
“We were able to go to them with anything,” Dearman said. “It helped our family so much and they still help us to this day, for everything we’re going through even now. They’re there for us.”
And the recognition didn’t only go to people who were there for the victims.
A therapy dog named Chester was among several dogs honored for his assistance and comfort he provided to families throughout the trial.
“He was rock solid throughout the whole process,” said Kateri Nelson, Chester’s owner and part of Animals for Therapy. “We became really close in four months so it’s really more of a friendship than anything else. And you always like to help your friends. And that’s what we did, hopefully.”
This is also National Crime Victim’s Rights Week. Throughout the week, the theater shooting victims are raising money through online auction to help pay for a permanent memorial.