When Patricia Legarreta talked to ABC News after escaping the movie theatre shooting in Colorado she said:
“It makes me feel happy to know that in times of trial, there are good people out there.”
Patricia was referring to the man that she credits for saving her life as well as the life of her 4-month-old son and 4-year-old daughter on that horrific night.
That man was 19-year-old Jarell Brooks.
Brooks said that when Holmes started shooting, everyone scrambled for the exits. While trying to get out of the theater, he saw a woman, later identified as Patricia Legarreta, struggling to get herself and her two children out. He said he crawled on top of Legarreta in an attempt to push her and the kids out the door but then couldn’t get out himself.
“At the end of the aisle, I ran into a woman. She yelled, ‘My kids!’ and I saw she had two young kids with her,” he told ABC News. “I made sure they got in the aisle and pushed behind her to make sure she got out of there.”
That’s when Brooks said he felt a shot to his leg. Brooks said he was shot in the thigh, and fell to the ground.
Patricia Legarreta was also hit.
“We fell together,” Brooks said. “I picked myself back up and continued to the back exit door, on one leg.”
Jarell told ABC News that the bullet that struck his leg could have hit Patricia’s 4-month-old infant if not for his body covering the family. But he refuses to be called a hero.
“I don’t want to say hero necessarily, I was just in the wrong place at the right time,” he told ABC News’ Chris Cuomo during a TV interview.
“I was in the wrong place because I had to deal with the situation, but I was there at the right time because I was there to help a family.”
After she recovered in the hospital, Patricia confirmed the story, and said she’s thankful there are young men in the world like Jarrell.
I saw someone in distress,’ he said. ‘I’m not the kind of person who would let them be in that situation and me selfishly trying to get myself out of the equation… all she’s trying to do is protect her kids, so I felt like if I could get her out, then maybe, I would have gotten out maybe I wouldn’t, as long as I knew she was OK I was alright.’
25-year-old Patricia came to the theater that night with her two kids and her boyfriend 25-year-old Jamie Rohrs. So, where was he when this complete stranger saved his family’s life? Jamie had run outside, hopped in his car, and driven away.
Patricia said that after seeing smoke and then hearing gunshots, she heard Jamie yell for her to get on the ground.
“I threw my daughter on the floor,” she said. “I just remember thinking my fiance has my son.”
While she was on the floor, she said, she could see her 4-month-old baby on the ground near the stairs. Patricia said she did not know the whereabouts of Jamie.
“At that point, I reached out and I grabbed him and pulled him in to me,” she said. “I didn’t even check my leg until we were out in the parking lot.”
Jamie, who had Ethan, said he jumped over the seat with the baby in his arms. He said he considered lying on the ground and playing dead but feared for his son’s life.
“I’m trying to keep him low. … And he’s crying,” Jamie said. “People are running all over. I’m tripping and falling. I don’t know if I laid him down or sat him down. I’m wondering maybe there’s more of them. [I'm thinking] ‘He’s crying and they’re going to come get me.’ I look up to see if I can run. I’m ducking, dodging, turning left, turning right. … Every time you hear a gun shot, it’s like ‘Oh, I’m dead.’”
“I’m just disoriented after I put him down,” Rohrs said. “I’m just waiting for me to hit the ground and fall down dead. You could see the gunfire and people are dropping.”
He said he wondered where Ethan was but realized he could not go back to get him. Rohrs finally jumped over the balcony and ended up outside.
“It just felt like the worst thing ever because my son’s still in there,” he told ABC News. “My girlfriend is still in there. I’m out here. Who leaves their child there?”
He said Patricia called him from another phone and he drove back to the theater.
When Patricia was in the hospital, Jamie said “I know this isn’t the time or the place, but will you marry me,” and she said, “Yes.”
The New York Post talks about three men who died trying to save their girlfriends’ lives. None of those couples had children with them in the theater. I’m not saying that Jamie had an obligation to take a bullet for anyone, but laying his baby on the ground in the middle of that chaotic situation where the baby could have easily been trampled and then escaping to his car is utterly unbelievable.
Yet, all day on Friday, Jamie was on national television next to his girlfriend holding the baby as though he hadn’t just abandoned them hours earlier. For her to accept his marriage proposal after all of that is shocking. He showed his true colors in that theater and the fact that he had driven away without even knowing her status or the status of their baby shows what kind of person he is. Marrying a person like that is a mistake.
Thankfully for Patricia, unlike Jamie, Jarell saw it necessary to take a bullet for her and her kids if it meant helping them to safety. Judging from his Facebook page, he loves fantasy superheroes and that night he got to become a real life hero himself. When the wife of retired NBA player Isaiah Rider heard the news she set up an online fundraising account to raise money for him and his upcoming college tuition.
Earlier this year, Jarell posted this MLK quote on his Facebook page: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
It’s pretty clear that Jarell is quite a man and his heroics unwittingly exposed the coward in Jamie.
What do you think about this story?
Follow Alissa on Twitter @AlissaInPink
More on Madame Noire!
- Unforgettable Underground Films: 8 Black Cult Classic Movies We Love (And May Not Want to Admit)
- Figuring Out Fake Friends: 6 Signs That Your Friends Might Be Green With Envy
- Weekend Wrap Up! Willow Has Something to Say to the Critics! Brandy Wants to Babysit Blue Ivy + More
- Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful: Do You Have Pretty Girl Problems
- Almost Doesn’t Count! Celebs Who Never Quite Made It Down the Aisle”
- Baby, Bye! Celebs Who Took Their Baby Hair Too Far
- Thirsty Much? Bathroom Sink Photos & Other Sexually Charged Cries for Attention