July 25th, 2012 | University

Yale undergrad survives Colorado theater shooting

Stephen Barton, a friend of Ethan Rodriguez-Torrent '13, posted a photo of his ticket of a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" to Instagram before entering the theater.
Stephen Barton, a friend of Ethan Rodriguez-Torrent '13, posted a photo of his ticket of a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" to Instagram before entering the theater. Photo by Stephen Barton.

A Yale undergrad is among the survivors of a mass shooting at a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colo. early Friday morning. Though Ethan Rodriguez-Torrent ’13 was with two friends who were both shot and injured, he himself was not hit.

“I’m fine; my friends are recuperating; and life will go on in roughly the same fashion as it did before this event,” Rodriguez-Torrent said in an email. He declined to comment further.

Rodriguez-Torrent was on a cross-country bicycle trip with high school friend Stephen Barton, a 2012 graduate of Syracuse University, when they decided on Thursday to stop in at a midnight screening of the new Batman film. The 12:01 a.m. showing was sold out, so the two, along with another friend from the area, bought tickets for the 12:05 screening. They picked seats in the middle of the theater.

When the theater filled with smoke and flashes of light about fifteen minutes into the movie, the three friends mistook the chaos for fireworks, according to the Los Angeles Times. In reality, a gunman had opened fire on the audience.

Barton was hit in the neck and had shrapnel wounds on his face and right arm, but was able to run out of the theater through an emergency exit. Rodriguez-Torrent remained crouched in the theater with the other friend, who had been shot. The movie continued to play and there was gunfire on the screen. Rodriguez-Torrent told the Los Angeles Times that, from the floor, he could not tell if it was fake or real and that he recalled thinking: “I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die like this. I don’t want my friend to die.”

When the movie stopped and the lights came on, Rodriguez-Torrent helped his friend stand up, and they made their way to the lobby via the emergency exit, still unsure whether the gunman had left.

Twelve people were killed in the shooting, and 58 were injured, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Rodriguez-Torrent posted to Facebook around 5:30 a.m. Colorado time Friday morning, confirming that he and Barton were OK. At around 7:30 p.m., he posted again.

“Biked 80 miles, got shot at, and have been awake for 38 hours,” Rodriguez-Torrent wrote. “Time to crash, hard. All three of us are either fine or on the mend. Thanks for all the good wishes.”

CORRECTION: July 21, 2012

Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this article incorrectly reported that Stephen Barton’s brother was accompanying Barton and Ethan Rodriguez-Torrent ’13 on their cross-country bicycle trip.