Colorado tragedy rocks nation

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

The senseless slaying and injury of scores of victims watching a midnight screening of “Batman: The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colo., left a nation stunned and grieving. Nearly a week later, communities are still grappling with the horror that was only sharpened by the bizarre and theatrical context of the attack and the glimpse of a killer showing no remorse during his arrest or courtroom appearance.

Local psychologist Kevin Seymour said that the typical reaction to such a traumatic experience is to find someone or something to blame. And plenty of targets have been identified in the media — inadequate gun control or help for the mentally ill among them. Others take it a step farther, pointing to the shooter’s desire to emulate the popular story’s villain and questioning whether that had any role in the misguided motivations of the accused.

“I think we do this to try to relieve our own anxiety,” said Seymour. “We feel helpless after a terrible tragedy like this. People fear their inabilities to protect themselves and their families.

“In a way, it’s a post-traumatic stress situation. For many it triggers similar events like Columbine or 9-11. People try to make sense of it so they know how to shield against it in the future. And that is what usually leads us to the blame.”

He said the danger in placing an emphasis on blame is that such an exercise does not change the fact that there are no guarantees in life.

“The best thing you can do is talk about it,” he said. “You acknowledge the fact that there are some things that are beyond your control, you recognize the emotions and you deal with them as best you can.”

The News Review also asked several local pastors to respond to how they were helping their congregations cope with the tragedy. The lone respondent, Bill Logan of Immanuel Baptist Church, said that he addressed the events in his sermon on Sunday.

“What I said was that we live in a very sinful world, and the tragedy around us is because of our separation from God. Being a Christian does not protect us from that.”

He said that many Christians think that God is good as long as life is good.

“When life throws us a curve ball, we question and get angry because life isn’t going according to the script that we wrote. But that’s not who God is. We have to have the top-down perspective that God is sovereign, and allow scripture to be our foundation.”

Some have found solace in the glimmers of hope buried in the violence — such as the four young heroes who sacrificed themselves as human shields in order to save the lives of their girlfriends.

The final acts of John Larimer, Jon Blunk, Matt McQuinn and Alex Teves hearkens back to the passengers of United Flight 93, who stormed the cockpit to wrest controls away from the plane’s hijackers on Sept. 11, 2001. The passengers perished when the plane crashed into a Pennsylvania field, but analysts believed it spared the White House, which was the true target of the terrorists.

“Dark Knight” distributor Warner Bros. was joined by Sony, Fox, Disney, Universal and Lionsgate in an unprecedented pact to suppress box office information until Monday. Studio executives said that in light of the tragedy, they did not want the focus of the weekend to be placed on the film’s financial performance.

The attack prompted many overseas theaters to cancel their premieres. Domestically, the tragedy did not appear to have had an impact. When the box office totals were released the movie came out with the new world record for a three-day opening, with an estimated $160-million take.

On Monday Warner Bros. announced that it will use the film’s profits to make a “substantial” donation to the charities supporting the victims of the shooting rampage.

Story First Published: 2012-07-25