Multiple news outlets are reporting that two teenage sisters from the North Bay Area were among those at the movie theater in Aurora, Colo. when accused shooter James Holmes opened fire late Thursday night.
Nineteen-year-old Melia Schurig and 16-year-old Linnea Schurig of San Rafael - who were sitting in a 12:01 a.m. screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Theater 8, adjacent to Theater 9, where the shooting took place - narrowly escaped injury in the shooting, told local TV station KTVU that "everything they endured is still sinking in."
Since their theater shared a wall with Theater 9 where the shooter opened fire, Melia and Linnea told The Marin Independent Journal that, about a half-hour into the film, a bullet fragment came through the wall and struck an 18-year-old male friend they were at the movies with, who was sitting one row behind them, in the arm.
"I heard him say 'oh my God'...we all turned around and he had a giant hole in his forearm and it was just pouring blood right off of him," Linnea Schurig told KTVU.
At that point the teens, along with 10 friends they had been attending an Aurora convention with, ran out of the theater. Melia and Linnea ran into the parking lot and hid behind a parked car, but they had to help their friend who had been shot in the arm, as he kept blacking out from the loss of blood and couldn't run very well.
As they ran, the sisters said they could hear people shouting everywhere around them, they told KTVU.
"There were a lot of people yelling, 'My husband's dead. My boyfriend's dead. Somebody call the cops! Somebody call my parents,'" Linnea Schurig said. "And people were yelling, ‘There's a shooter! There's a shooter!'"
Linnea told the Marin Independent Journal she saw a frantic mother running, carrying her baby who had been shot in the leg.
Melanie Haiken, the sisters' mother, was at their Aurora hotel and told The Marin Independent Journal she looked down at her phone one moment and noticed she had missed five calls in a period of a few moments from her daughters.
She called them back immediately and they told her they were on their way back to the hotel, but that their friend had been rushed to the hospital in an ambulance to have surgery on his arm.
Now that the terrible night is over, the two North Bay sisters say, they feel remorse for the victims, and lucky to be alive.
"This is horrible, and we're so lucky," said Melia.
Haiken told Patch she and her daughters were in Aurora for a convention for the organization "Friends: the National Association of Young People Who Stutter," which has helped Linnea, who has stuttered since childhood, a lot over the years.
Haiken said she and her daughters intend to stay a few more days in Colorado before heading back to the Bay Area.
"This has been a pretty traumatic experience, and we're taking a few days to heal and enjoy the beauty of the Colorado Rockies," she said. "We are grateful that the girls and their friends were among the lucky ones who escaped, but at the same time, we're mourning the lives lost and the terrible injuries others have suffered."
Fortunately, the girls' friend who was shot in the arm will be alright, and has already been released from the hospital.
View video interviews with the two sisters on KTVU's website here.
- Kayla Figard contributed to this report.