AURORA, Colo. -- Jessica Ghawi narrowly escaped a murderous rampage at a shopping centre in Toronto last month, deciding to leave a food court where, moments later, a gunman killed two people and wounded six others.

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AURORA, Colo. -- Jessica Ghawi narrowly escaped a murderous rampage at a shopping centre in Toronto last month, deciding to leave a food court where, moments later, a gunman killed two people and wounded six others.

The incident, and her narrow escape, deeply moved her.

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Jessica Ghawi and boyfriend Jay Meloff

THE CANADIAN PRESS

facebook PHOTO Jessica Ghawi and boyfriend Jay Meloff

"I was shown how fragile life was on Saturday," Ghawi wrote on her blog. "I saw the terror on bystanders' faces. I saw the victims of a senseless crime. I saw lives change. I was reminded that we don't know when or where our time on Earth will end. When or where we will breathe our last breath."

In a wicked twist of fate, the aspiring sports journalist was killed Friday in the massacre in a Colorado theatre, along with at least 11 others, by a gunman wielding an assault-style rifle, a shotgun, a handgun and canisters of a noxious chemical. Police said 59 others were wounded.

Officials began releasing the names of some of the victims early this morning as families were notified.

The family of Alex Sullivan issued a statement confirming his death. He died on his 27th birthday.

Twenty-three-year-old Micayla Medek was also among the dead. Her father's cousin, Anita Busch, says the sad news at least brought peace to the family.

Ghawi -- who went by the name Jessica Redfield professionally -- was in her early 20s, with a big heart and big plans, her friends said.

About a year ago, she moved to Denver from San Antonio, Texas, to pursue her career, her brother, Jordan, told Denver TV station KUSA.

Hours before the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises, Ghawi joked on Twitter she'd had to "coerce" a guy into going with her. She was with her ex-boyfriend and good friend Brent Lowak, who was visiting from San Antonio, said Lowak's father, Larry. Brent Lowak was shot and underwent successful surgery, his father told a San Antonio TV station.

Jordan Ghawi, writing on his blog, gave an account of his sister's last moments after he spoke with Brent Lowak.

When shots rang out, Lowak and Jessica Ghawi dropped to the floor, Jordan Ghawi wrote.

Lowak called 911, heard Ghawi scream and realized she had been shot in the leg. He applied pressure to her wound but was soon shot himself.

"While still administering first aid, Brent noticed Jessica was no longer screaming," Ghawi wrote. "He looked over to Jessica and saw what appeared to be an entry wound to her head."

Lowak made it outside and called Ghawi's mother.

Canadian hockey player Jay Meloff said Ghawi was his girlfriend. Meloff said he woke up Friday morning to frantic phone calls about the shooting. He said he last spoke with his girlfriend moments before she entered the theatre.

"She said for me to sleep well. She knew it was late here," said Meloff, when reached at his home in Markham, Ont. "That was the last thing we ever got to say to each other."

Meloff said the two had been dating for about a year and that she was an "amazing" girl.

The wounded ranged from three months to 45 years old. Most appeared to be teenagers and young adults.

Dabbing at wounds that ran in a dotted line from her upper thigh to her ankle, Patricia Legarreta, 24, recounted the terror she felt for her small children when the attack began.

She and her boyfriend, Jamie Rohrs, had taken their infant son and four-year-old daughter to the movie, thinking the kids would sleep through it. Badly wounded in the leg, she put a child on each hip and ran for the exit.

"I need to get out," she recalled thinking. "My kids are not going to die in here." Neither child was hurt.

 

-- Los Angeles Times, with CP files