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Mass. Couple On Cross Country Trip Escapes Colorado Theater Shooting

By Bree Sison, WBZ-TV
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Award-winning journalist Bree Sison is a general assignment reporte...
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BOSTON (CBS)- A Massachusetts couple on a cross-country road trip made a stop in Aurora, Colorado on Thursday night to catch the new Batman flick. They never could have imagined what they would witness instead.

Stephen Laferriere of Dracut, and his wife Katie Meehan of Peabody, have always wanted to travel the country. When Katie was accepted to the University in California, they had their chance. On their list of things to do was a stop in Denver and a tour of the Rocky Mountains. But Stephen is an avid Batman fan who wanted to be among the first to see “The Dark Knight Rises.”

“I know it seems silly to do a road trip and [stop to watch] a movie but I wanted to see it. She actually found tickets online for this city we’d never heard of – Aurora. They were the only tickets available in the area,” Laferriere told WBZ-TV by phone on Saturday.

In a movie theater across the hall from the Laferrieres’, a gunman shot 71 people, killing 12. The Laferrieres were supposed to be in that theater.

“Our tickets were oversold. Turns out all the hardcore fans got there three hours early and took all the seats so they added a second screening room for us. We ended up in a room across the hall,” said Laferriere.

Because of the high action plot in the Batman movie, the couple didn’t think twice about the sounds of gunfire coming from across the hall.

“We all assume it was the theater next to us playing the film. We all think it’s just sound effects and literally nobody thinks twice about it. Once the fire alarms went off we think maybe someone is playing a joke or a prank,” said Laferriere.

The couple was among the hundreds of people who poured out into the Century 16 lobby. It was only there that they began to understand what was unfolding around them, but even still they were confused by what they were seeing.

“We heard someone say “oh he’s been shot. He’s got a gun!” and you think you can handle that. But nobody is taking it seriously unfortunately, especially from our theater because no one had witnessed it,” said Laferriere.

When police rushed in with weapons drawn, survival instincts kicked in.

“My wife Katie, she’s great. She’s the daughter of a Boston cop. So she just grabbed me and said, ‘let’s get out of here. I mean, there’s nothing we could do,’” said Laferriere. The couple made a mad dash for their car, concerned because police had not yet located the gunman.

Eventually police arrested James Holmes, 24, behind the theater. He reportedly had a rifle, a pistol, bullet-proof clothing and a gas mask with him when he was taken into custody.

Stephen and Katie have continued their trip and are en route to San Francisco. They believe Holmes is evil and that there’s nothing anyone could say to him that would make a difference.

“He knew what he was doing. He’s just an insane human being and there’s nothing you can say to someone like that. Nothing that would get through anyway,” said Laferriere.

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