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Victims of cinema shootings in Colorado recalled

Aurora attack occurred one year ago

AURORA, Colo. — Some recited the names of the dead. Some did good deeds for their neighbors. And some practiced yoga, walked through nature, or simply talked.

Coloradans embraced ways to heal Saturday as they marked the anniversary of the Aurora movie theater massacre with a city-sponsored ‘‘Day of Remembrance.’’

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It was one year ago that a gunman opened fire into a packed midnight screening of the Batman film ‘‘The Dark Knight Rises.’’ The rampage lasted less than two minutes but left deep wounds that still ache in Aurora, Colorado’s third-largest city, spread out across the rolling plains on Denver’s eastern side.

Twelve people died, including a 6-year-old girl. Seventy were hurt, some of them paralyzed. Many others inside the theater and out bear the invisible scars of emotional trauma.

Parents, siblings, and survivors of those slain attended a ceremony of prayer, song, and remembrance outside Aurora’s city hall. Several hundred people — including police, fire personnel, and members of Colorado’s congressional delegation — bowed their heads as the names of dead were read. A small bell tolled after each. The Hinkley High School choir sang ‘‘Amazing Grace.’’

‘‘One year ago, the peace of our community was shattered,’’ Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan said. ‘‘We are still seeking justice.’’

‘‘It is important for us to remember that one senseless act does not, cannot, and will not define us as a community,’’ Hogan added. ‘‘This is a story of resilience, not just of Aurora but of humankind.’’

Governor John Hickenlooper told the crowd that many people still struggle with unanswered questions. ‘‘I know I do,’’ Hickenlooper said.

Camilla Sasson, an emergency room physician at the University of Colorado, struggled through tears as she recounted the efforts of police and medical personnel to save lives.

‘‘It is absolutely a miracle that 58 people survived that night,’’ she said.

Mourners held white roses and, as the ceremony ended, laid them under a large wreath with the inscription, ‘‘In memory of those lost and those whose lives were forever changed.’’

After the ceremony, residents volunteered for projects — tending a community garden, sorting food bank donations, donating blood. Spiritual and mental health counselors were available, along with art therapy projects.

James Holmes was arrested outside the theater in the aftermath of the rampage. He has been held since the shooting, charged with murder, attempted murder, and a list other offenses. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

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