Tom Sullivan, center, embraces family members outside Gateway High School where he has been searching frantically for his son, Alex Sullivan, who celebrated his 27th birthday by going to see “The Dark Knight Rises,” movie where a gunman opened fire Friday, July 20, 2012, in Aurora, Colo. (AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez)

[PHOTOS] Photojournalist shows the emotion behind Aurora movie theater shooting

Awakened from a short night’s sleep, Associated Press photographer Barry Gutierrez rushed out of his Colorado home at 2:30 a.m. and prepared for the 30 minute drive to Aurora.

“I drove really fast towards Aurora,” says Gutierrez. “I was speeding most of the way.”

Gutierrez was headed to Gateway High School, where victims and family members were being held after a shooting at a Colorado movie theater for the midnight premiere for the newest Batman flick, “The Dark Knight Rises.” The gunman, James Holmes, 24, allegedly killed 12 people and injured dozens, including children.

“My first thought was that my heart was going out to innocent victims,” says Gutierrez. “They’re my neighbors, my fellow Coloradans. I can’t imagine anything worse than being killed at a theater. I guess that’s no longer safe,” he adds.

Gutierrez’s goal was to capture the moment from the inside out.

“I wanted to meet them, I wanted to be let into the circle,” says Gutierrez about the parents waiting at the high school. “I didn’t want to [take pictures] from the outside in. I wanted to tell their story.”

“I don’t want to be a photographer on the sidewalk,” says Gutierrez.

That is how you get powerful pictures, he adds.

One image that stood out for Gutierrez was of a father, holding up a photograph of his son, and yelling at the media.

“He was screaming, ‘Have you seen my son? We can’t find him anywhere!’” says Gutierrez. “His voice rattled my bones, it shattered me, and I started crying immediately,” he adds.

And it was not the first time he has cried today.

“I’ve been yelled at, I’ve been hugged, I’ve been invited into people’s lives,” he says. “It’s been very emotional.”

And it isn’t over yet, says Gutierrez.

“This is not the most difficult [event I’ve covered] so far but it’s just starting,” says Gutierrez. “This will ripple through many lives and for many years.”


  1. So sad to see the anguish on this family’s face. I pray for you and all the other souls lost on this tragic day.

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