Pojoaque Valley High School graduate Jamie Rohrs, his two young children and his fianceé were among those in the Aurora, Colo., movie theater at the time of the Friday morning massacre.
Rohrs, 25, and his fianceé, Patricia Legarreta, 24, recently moved from New Mexico to the Denver area, where they live with their 4-year-old daughter and 4-month-old son, according to multiple news reports.
All four escaped the carnage alive, but shrapnel was removed from Legarreta’s leg.
“Where the gunman came in, we were going to sit right there,” Rohrs told ABC News on Friday. “God was definitely with us and watching over us. I just thank God we sat where we did and showed up late.”
Messages left on Rohrs’ cellphone were not returned to The New Mexican on Friday afternoon.
The family was sitting in seats near the exit of the second-floor balcony. Rohrs said he was holding the couple’s 4-month-old son, Ethan, while their daughter, Azeria, slept in her mother’s lap.
They told reporters they thought the children would sleep through the 12:05 a.m. showing of The Dark Knight Rises.
“We just moved here from New Mexico,” Rohrs told ABC News. “We have to go out. We have to do things. You don’t think you’re going to get shot. You’re just living your life.”
Rohrs graduated from Pojoaque Valley in 2005 and played both football and basketball for the Elks, then attended The University of New Mexico.
He said that when the shooting began, he jumped over the seats in front of him with his son in his arms.
“I’m trying to keep him low. … And he’s crying,” Rohrs said in the ABC News report. “People are running all over. I’m tripping and falling. I don’t know if I laid him down or sat him down. I’m wondering maybe there’s more of them. [I’m thinking] ‘He’s crying and they’re going to come get me.’ I look up to see if I can run. I’m ducking, dodging, turning left, turning right. … Every time you hear a gunshot, it’s like ‘Oh, I’m dead.’ ”
Legarreta told the Los Angeles Times she hit the floor with her daughter and saw Rohrs trip on some steps, then grabbed Ethan and pulled him in closer to her.
“I’m just disoriented after I put him down,” Rohrs said to ABC News. “I’m just waiting for me to hit the ground and fall down dead. You could see the gunfire and people are dropping.”
Rohrs told reporters he eventually left the theater while Legarreta and the two children were still inside.
“It just felt like the worst thing ever because my son’s still in there,” he told ABC News. “My girlfriend is still in there. I’m out here. Who leaves their child there?”
Legarreta said she eventually decided that if she stayed in the theater she would die, so, with a child under each arm, she ran out of the theater with blood pouring from her leg.
“[I just said] ‘I’m not going to die in here. Me and my kids are not going to die in this building,’ ” she told ABC News. “I’m just happy that we got our kids out. It was so hard sitting in the hospital. … Thinking of all the people that we saw. Hoping and praying that they got out.”
Legarreta and Rohrs met up in the parking lot and he took her to the hospital, where she was treated and released by 6 a.m., according to the Los Angeles Times.
It an interview with NBC News, Rohrs said he proposed to Legarreta while she was in the hospital. She accepted.
The couple said they worry about the long-term trauma the event will have on their 4-year-old daughter.
“She’s only 4,” Legarreta told the Los Angeles Times. “They say kids don’t remember, but I’m afraid she will.”