"You gotta forgive," Adan Avila, a 20-year-old survivor of the Aurora theater shooting, said. "I have no hard feelings for him."
Avila, a former wrestler, football player and cross-country runner, is missing a portion of his right leg after it was blown off during the mass shooting.
"Not once was I ever mad at [the accused shooter] James Holmes or blamed him or anything like that, 'cause God forgave us for everything that we do in the sight of God," Avila said. We're all sinners. I'm no better than him."
Avila went to Century 16 movie theater with his wife Jennifer and some friends on the night of July 19.
"I wasn't all that excited about that movie, so I didn't even want to go that day," he said. "Right before the movie started, my wife was looking around and she's like, 'This is the last time we come to a premiere,' 'cause she just saw everybody - how they were dressed in costume, and it was funny."
The movie started. Avila says he saw flashing lights, grabbed his wife, threw her on the ground and covered her with his body.
"I was lying on the floor with my eyes shut holding my wife. I was asking God, 'Please get me out of here alive, please get my wife out of here safely,'" he said. "I got shot, and I felt the pressure, you know. I didn't feel any pain. I just felt heat and pressure. I was just waiting for that one bullet that would kill me, you know, but it never came."
Avila says he was lying on the ground with his eyes closed. He was scared but not of death.
"I was terrified," he said. "What was going through my head is, 'Holy crap, I'm about to meet God,' - really that was my thought. I was scared to meet God, 'cause I was just thinking 'I'm about to meet the Creator of everything.'"
For a moment, the firing stopped. Avila, his wife and friends headed for the exit.
"That's when [we] saw the guy was still there," Avila said. "He aimed at us and was trying to shoot us, but then his gun jammed. That's when I tell everybody 'That was God was right there again.' What a coincidence when we're up, right about to leave, like five-feet away from [the] emergency exit, [and] his gun jams. He's smacking his gun trying to get to work, but it gave us enough time to get out."
Avila says his friends and some strangers from the movie theater helped him get out, because he was hopping on one leg. Firefighters took him to Swedish Medical Center, where he said he underwent 11 surgeries in just several days.
Doctors tried to save his leg but couldn't.
"It's about mid-shin," Avila showed. "I'm missing my leg and my ankle, but they saved a lot of it. I got this prosthesis last Monday [and have been] trying to walk with it, [and] get better at walking. It still hurts a lot."
He and his wife celebrated their one-year anniversary last month. Adopted a shepherd mix from the Dumb Friends League named Selena. Selena helps them both feel better, Avila says. They're training her to be a service dog.
Before the incident, Avila worked for a landscaping company and wanted to be a landscape architect, but since the shooting, he wants to do something more. He says he wants to give back to the community.
He's working for a kids program at his local church and says he plans to continue working with children.
A Walk-a-Thon will be held for Avila on Oct. 6 at 10 a.m. at Horseshoe Park in Aurora. There are registration forms and sponsor forms for anyone that may be interested. Interested parties can email email@example.com.
More information can be found here, https://apps.auroragov.org/auroragov_parts/dispEvent.aspx?eid=1434.
If you'd like to help financially, donate to the Adan Avila Victims Fund at Wells Fargo banks. Avila was treated at Swedish Medical Center in Englewood. The hospital is part of the HCA-HealthONE system and will not be charged for care given to him after the July 20th incident.
Here is what HCA-HealthONE told 9news in an email.
"Shortly after the mass tragedy in Aurora on July 20, 2012, HCA-HealthONE made the decision that no shooting victims treated at The Medical Center of Aurora, Swedish Medical Center or Centennial Medical Plaza would receive a hospital bill for their deductibles, co-pays or, if uninsured, any charges related to their immediate hospital stay. This includes the hospitals' costs for care in the Emergency Department; surgeries; ICU and other hospital care, through each patient's discharge.
We have honored that decision.
Further, any of the state or individual fund-raising efforts to cover costs of medical care for shooting victims does not include costs incurred by HealthONE hospitals because we have not billed any shooting victims for their acute care stays."
(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)