Funerals begin for Colorado shooting victims

AURORA, Colo. July 25 Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:28pm IST

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AURORA, Colo. July 25 (Reuters) - The first funeral for one of the victims of Friday's mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater, a 51-year-old father of four, will be held on Wednesday.

Gordon Cowden, the oldest person killed, was a self-employed real estate appraiser who had taken his teenage daughters to the midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" when he was killed along with 11 others in a hail of bullets allegedly fired by 24-year-old James Eagan Holmes. His daughters escaped unharmed.

Cowden's funeral, the first to occur since the July 20 massacre, will take place Wednesday morning at Pathways Church in Denver.

Originally from Texas, where a separate memorial will be held in Austin later this week, he was described in a statement from his family as: "Loving father, outdoorsman and small business owner, Cowden was a true Texas gentleman that loved life and his family.

"A quick-witted world traveler with a keen sense of humor, he will be remembered for his devotion to his children and for always trying his best to do the right thing, no matter the obstacle."

The funeral comes as 20 of the 58 people injured in the shooting remained hospitalized, seven in critical condition.

On Tuesday, a 21-year-old woman who escaped injury in the shooting gave birth to a baby boy while her husband was in the same hospital in a medically induced coma with a gunshot wound to the head.

Katie Medley and her husband, Caleb, 23, both wearing Batman apparel, were at the movie when the shooting began.

A website set up to raise money for his care because the Medleys have no health insurance, www.calebmedley.com/help, said he had lost his right eye, suffered brain damage and was in a medically induced coma.

Katie Medley gave birth in the same hospital where her husband was being treated.

Holmes was arrested behind the theater shortly after the massacre and was in court for the first time on Monday, appearing dazed and groggy. At the hearing, the judge set a date of next Monday for formal charges to be filed.

The judge ruled on Tuesday that no cameras would be allowed in the courtroom when Holmes is charged. Holmes' initial appearance on Monday was televised.

Authorities have not offered a motive for the shooting spree. Police said Holmes, a former neuroscience student, left his 800-square-foot (75-square-metre) apartment booby-trapped with explosives that authorities said could have destroyed the entire complex.

Local and state bomb experts conducted a controlled demolition over the weekend. The building remains closed and police have not said when residents will be allowed to return.

Holmes is in solitary confinement to protect him from other prisoners. He had recently sought to leave a doctoral degree program in neuroscience at the University of Colorado's Anschutz Medical School, a few blocks from his apartment.

The shooting rampage has renewed debate in the United States about gun control. At the same time, Colorado authorities said on Tuesday that applications in the state for background checks to buy firearms surged in the aftermath of the shooting. (Writing by Dan Burns; Editing by Vicki Allen)

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