Omar Villafranca, NBC 5 News
Rebecca Wingo, of Quinlan; Jessica Ghawi, of San Antonio; and Gordon Cowden, of Austin; were fatally shot at a Denver-area movie theater.
At least three Texas natives died in a shooting rampage at a midnight showing early Friday at a Denver-area movie theater. The Texans are listed as former Austinite Gordon W. Cowden, 52, Jessica Ghawi, 24, of San Antonio and Rebecca Wingo, 32, a native of Quinlan.
James Eagan Holmes, a Colorado graduate student, is suspected of killing 12 moviegoers and wounding 58 others during the premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises" at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo.
Wingo, the single mother of two children, was a student at the Community College of Aurora. After graduating from Ford High School in Quinlan, Wingo served in the United States Air Force.
Her mother, Shirley Wygal, now lives in Aurora. She told NBC affiliate KUSA-TV in Denver that Wingo and a friend, Marcus Weaver, attended the movie together.
“They [Wingo and Weaver] were in the fourth row when the guy came in the front of the theater," she said. "And they made it to the door, and he started firing on the people at the door. And they got separated a little bit and, when he caught sight of her again, she was lying on the floor, bleeding from her chest and bleeding from her head."
"There were a lot of people at the door and a lot of chaos," Wygal said. "She was still there when everything kind of cleared up and he ran outside and got some policemen and they went in to take care of her and he doesn't know what happened after that.”
Wygal still owns property in Hunt County, where neighbors said they are grieving for the family’s loss.
“I feel bad for them. These tragedies are just so terrible,” said Brenda Denman, who lives down the street from the home Wygal owns. “I just want to let you know, Shirley, that I’m thinking about you and praying for you.”
Neighbor John Jones also expressed his deep sympathies for Wingo’s family and all the victims.
“I mean, they’re human,” he said. “And this was a very inhumane thing.”
Wingo’s father Steve Hernandez wrote about his daughter’s death on Facebook.
"I lost my daughter yesterday to a mad man, my grief right now is inconsolable, I hear she died instantly, without pain, however the pain is unbearable," he said.
A family statement said Cowden brought his two teenage children to see the movie. The former Austinite is described as "a loving father, outdoorsman and small business owner." he was the son of former state lawmaker George Malcolm Cowden.
The statement also read: "The family of Gordon Cowden wishes to express appreciation for the concern and prayers offered us during this very difficult time. Our hearts go out to everyone that has been harmed by this senseless tragedy."
Cowden's children escaped the shooting physically unharmed.
Ghawi, an aspiring journalist from San Antonio who recently moved to Denver to pursue her career in sports reporting, also died.
A fourth Texas victim, a Houston woman was shot in the calf and thigh while holding a baby. She is expected to survive. The victim's sister told KHOU-TV that when the shooting started, the woman threw her child on the ground and stood up to put herself between the gunman and her child. The child was not injured.