Farmington native talks about surviving horrific theater shooting, losing 'heroic' boyfriend

Jul 24 2012 - 3:09pm

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Jonathan Blunk and Jansen Young.  Jonathan Blunk was one of the 12 victims who died in Aurora, Colo., after James Holmes went on a shooting rampage. Blunk used his body to shield Jansen Young, a Farmington native and Davis High School graduate. (Courtesy Photo)
Jonathan Blunk and Jansen Young.  Jonathan Blunk was one of the 12 victims who died in Aurora, Colo., after James Holmes went on a shooting rampage. Blunk used his body to shield Jansen Young, a Farmington native and Davis High School graduate. (Courtesy Photo)
Jonathan Blunk and Jansen Young.  Jonathan Blunk was one of the 12 victims who died in Aurora, Colo., after James Holmes went on a shooting rampage. Blunk used his body to shield Jansen Young, a Farmington native and Davis High School graduate. (Courtesy Photo)
Jonathan Blunk and Jansen Young.  Jonathan Blunk was one of the 12 victims who died in Aurora, Colo., after James Holmes went on a shooting rampage. Blunk used his body to shield Jansen Young, a Farmington native and Davis High School graduate. (Courtesy Photo)
Jonathan Blunk and Jansen Young.  Jonathan Blunk was one of the 12 victims who died in Aurora, Colo., after James Holmes went on a shooting rampage. Blunk used his body to shield Jansen Young, a Farmington native and Davis High School graduate. (Courtesy Photo)
Jonathan Blunk and Jansen Young.  Jonathan Blunk was one of the 12 victims who died in Aurora, Colo., after James Holmes went on a shooting rampage. Blunk used his body to shield Jansen Young, a Farmington native and Davis High School graduate. (Courtesy Photo)
Jonathan Blunk and Jansen Young.  Jonathan Blunk was one of the 12 victims who died in Aurora, Colo., after James Holmes went on a shooting rampage. Blunk used his body to shield Jansen Young, a Farmington native and Davis High School graduate. (Courtesy Photo)
Jonathan Blunk and Jansen Young.  Jonathan Blunk was one of the 12 victims who died in Aurora, Colo., after James Holmes went on a shooting rampage. Blunk used his body to shield Jansen Young, a Farmington native and Davis High School graduate. (Courtesy Photo)

 

Shellie Young said a phone call from her daughter at 1:02 a.m. Friday woke her up, beginning a frantic chain of events that brought her to her daughter's side.

"She said, 'Mom, we were at the Batman premiere, and a man came in the theater and shot the place up,' " Shellie Young said in an interview with the Standard-Examiner.

Jansen Young, a former Farmington resident, is now grateful for a second chance at life. She thanks her boyfriend, Jonathan Blunk, for that chance. But Blunk was one of the 12 people who died at the Aurora, Colo., theater shooting early that Friday morning.

"He gave me a second chance," said Jansen in a phone interview Monday. "I will celebrate his heroism forever."

The 21-year-old Davis High School graduate was in the crowded theater with Blunk when police say James Eagen Holmes went on a shooting rampage.

It was the worst mass shooting in the U.S. since the Nov. 5, 2009, attack at Fort Hood, Texas, in which an Army psychiatrist was charged with killing 13 soldiers and civilians and wounding more than two dozen others.

Jansen said she is trying not to think "awful thoughts about (Holmes), but how can I not? I mean, who does this? Who does something so disgusting and is comfortable with hurting people?"

"He did not make a statement to the world," she said. "He took away people that other people loved. ... I don't know if I will be able to ever forgive him. I don't want to sound heartless, but that's how I feel."

Now Jansen and her parents, Shellie and Sheldon, are trying to get through the next few days as they mourn the man who used his body as a shield to protect her from gunfire.

Shellie and Seldon flew to Denver on Saturday morning as soon as they could after receiving the phone call from their youngest child, who just finished her veterinary technician course work at Bel-Rea Institute in Denver.

"I'm OK, but I think Jon didn't make it," Shellie said Jansen told her on the phone that morning.

Shellie, who is a paramedic with the Davis County Sheriff's Office, said it took her a few seconds to process what her daughter was saying.

"I just woke up, and I kept saying, 'Jon didn't make it?' "

The phone call lasted less than 10 seconds because Jansen had borrowed a cellphone from someone outside of the theater. Her own cellphone was in the car the couple drove to the theater, and the car keys were inside Blunk's pants pockets.

Jansen said she was watching the movie when she saw, in the corner of her eye, someone in the front of the theater throw something that landed in the back corner.

"It went 'boom,' and then Jon said, 'Get down,' and he grabs me and pushes me to the ground and then pushes me under the seat as far as he could," Jansen said.

Jansen then heard a scream and felt blood coming down the seat.

She could hear the shooting and screams, and then Blunk pushed her even harder under the seat before she couldn't feel him anymore.

"I knew he was still there," Jansen said.

When it got quiet, she wiggled out of the hiding place and realized only a few people were left in the theater. She then tried to get Blunk to stand up, but he wouldn't move.

"I thought I would go get help, so I went out the exit door and there was a white car in the parking lot with a man standing next to it," Jansen said.

Not knowing who the man was, Jansen said she jumped over the railing into a concrete area where trash cans were stored. She hid there until she heard police sirens.

She then found a police officer and told the officer about Blunk. Jansen was told to wait at an area for shooting victims who were "standing," and that's when she called her parents the first time.

Shellie said she got a second phone call from her daughter at 3 a.m.

"She said she was in an ambulance being transported to the hospital; a paramedic was letting her use her phone," Shellie said.

Shellie asked her daughter why she was going to the hospital. Jansen said it was because of some minor injuries she received from shrapnel.

Jansen had been walking in the area when a paramedic asked her why she was holding her arm. The paramedic looked at it and realized Jansen had some minor wounds consistent with shrapnel.

Shellie talked to the paramedic, had her vital signs taken and was reassured she was OK.

"I then asked her (the paramedic) to take a picture of her and send it to me so I could be assured my daughter was alive," Shellie said.

The paramedic honored Shellie's request.

Shellie then woke her husband and they got on the Internet to look for anything about the shooting. A short while later, they were headed to the airport to catch the 6 a.m. flight to Denver, which got them there at 8 a.m.

They found their daughter at Gateway High School in Aurora, where survivors of the shooting were waiting for news about others who had been shot.

"We could tell she was anxious to see us because she kept calling us every five minutes," Shellie said.

Jansen said having her family with her during this time has been a blessing.

"It was such a relief to see their face at the high school," she said.

Several of Jansen's siblings have also made the trek to Denver to be with her.

Jansen said Monday was the first day since the shooting that she wanted to eat something, even though her parents had encouraged her.

Jansen said she thinks constantly of the gift Blunk gave her. "He's incredible. I love him so much."

 

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