Reporting Steve Miller
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Updated 07/23/12 – 11:58 a.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) – A woman from the Chicago area was inside the Colorado movie theater on the night a gunman killed 12 people and wounded 59 others, and she said John Larimer, a Navy petty officer from Crystal Lake who died, saved her life.
Julia Vojtsek was with a group of sailors at the Century 16 movie theater Thursday night for a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises,” and she was sitting in about the middle of the theater with Larimer.
“My boyfriend saved my life,” she said.
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Still in shock, Vojtsek, told WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller, “Once the shooting began, he just held my head, protected my whole body with his, and saved me, because in the process he got shot.”
Vojtsek, a nurse, was not wounded when the alleged gunman 24-year-old James Holmes, opened fire on the crowd. Twelve people died from their injuries and 59 others were wounded.
Larimer, a Navy cryptologic technician from Crystal Lake, was among those killed. Thanks to his actions, Vojtsek was not injured.
“I’m very, very sad, shaken up, glad I’m alive, but I’m very heartbroken by John’s death,” Vojtsek said. “I’m hanging in there the best I can. … I’m just very, very sad. It’s unreal that this happened.”
She said she and Larimer had known each other for about six years, but had been dating for a few weeks when they went to the movie theater.
Vojtsek is from Algonquin, but was visiting her father in Aurora, Colo., at the time. Her father has been working there.
Meantime, Larimer’s hometown of Crystal Lake prayed for his family on Sunday, during the worship service at the First Baptist Church of Crystal Lake.
CBS 2′s Derrick Blakley reports it was the first chance for the congregation to pray for the victims of the Colorado massacre, especially the young man who called their town home.
Rev. Tony Stepansky, the senior pastor at First Baptist, said, “With the tragedy out in Colorado affecting a family here in our own community, we could not help but to use this time for prayer.”
Larimer didn’t worship at First Baptist, and no one there knew him, but he graduated from Crystal Lake High School just down the road, and his death touched the entire town.
“We have children in our congregation who go to Crystal Lake High. You know, we have people who graduated from the area schools. So, of course, you’re going to maybe feel a little bit more for someone from your own area,” First Baptist member Brenda Figielski said.
Flying at half-staff, the giant flag at the Crystal Lake water treatment center symbolized the sorrow of a community.
At the Larimer home, friends brought food and drink, as the family continued to plead for privacy.
Meantime, worshippers held up the family in prayer, both silent and spoken.
“I would ask that you especially ask God’s blessing, and God’s comfort upon the Larimer family, who is our neighbors,” Stepansky said.
Those prayers reached beyond the Larimers and crystal lake.
John Ptak said, “We’re praying for all the victims there, and praying for the families of the victims, and the family of the man that did this.”
Larimer was youngest of five siblings. He trained at Naval Station Great Lakes, and had been assigned for about a year at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colo.
His family was in Colorado on Sunday, today, completing the sad duty of claiming his body.
Meantime, Holmes — who was arrested outside the movie theater after the shooting — was due in court on Monday.