Shift To Healing: Rush After Colo. Shooting Slows

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The investigation of the suspect in the Colorado movie theater shooting continues, and victims of the attack are continuing to share their stories. NPR's Jeff Brady sends a report from Denver-area hospitals on the conditions of the shooting victims in Aurora.


This is WEEKEND EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer. President Obama will go to Aurora, Colorado, later today to visit the victims of Friday's movie theater shooting. Local and federal authorities spent Saturday using explosives and robots to disarm a series of booby traps they found in 24-year-old suspect James Holmes' apartment. Aurora police chief Dan Oates talked about how Holmes may have acquired those devices.

DAN OATES: We've become aware that our suspect, over the last four months, had a high volume of deliveries - commercial deliveries - of packages to both his work and home address.

WERTHEIMER: Oates says the deliveries show how the suspect was able to stockpile magazines and ammunition. And the victims of this attack are also telling their stories. NPR's Jeff Brady has more.

JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: Brandon Axelrod, his wife and a friend were sitting about ten rows from the front of the theater. Axelrod says when the gunman started shooting, they ducked and stayed down.

BRANDON AXELROD: There were people around us that ran, that I saw get shot. And I know that staying there saved our lives.

BRADY: Axelrod says the movie kept playing. And it was difficult, at times, to tell if shots were from the movie or the gunman. He and his wife received relatively minor injuries as plastic from the seats around them, was blasted apart. Their friend was not as lucky.

AXELROD: You know, we hugged, the three of us, and we - he helped me keep her quiet. And we held on to each other like it might be it, so.

BRADY: Axelrod says his friend Josh Nowlan was shot but still able to hop out of the theater.

AXELROD: From what I understand, he was - a bone was broken in his arm, and he has tissue damage in his leg. It's his right arm and his left leg.

BRADY: Axelrod says Nowlan is staying positive, and he was scheduled to being physical therapy. Axelrod and his wife have stayed with their friend at the hospital since the shooting. Considering what they've been through, he says the three of them don't want to be apart. On Saturday, doctors at the Medical Center of Aurora were treating seven of the approximately two dozen victims still in hospitals around the region. Trauma surgeon Bob Snyder says doctors are watching for additional injuries that may not have been noticed, in the rush to treat patients after the shooting.

DR. BOB SNYDER: Thankfully, we have not found any missed injuries. Everything that we made the diagnosis originally, is what we're still working with right now.

BRADY: Snyder says the patients at his hospital are between 16 and 31 years old.

SNYDER: You try to distance yourself professionally from a situation like this. But these are young people, young families. It's difficult not to put yourself in their situation. And in that regard, it's been difficult for staff members to kind of deal with what's going on.

BRADY: Snyder says as the adrenaline rush from Friday's shooting passed for patients and family, the hospital had mental health workers available. He said some of the families now have to grapple with the fact that their loved one has suffered life-altering injuries that they will never fully recover from. Jeff Brady, NPR News, Aurora, Colorado.

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