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Parents remember a son killed ten years ago at a movie theater mass shooting


Time now for StoryCorps. Next week marks 10 years since a gunman murdered 12 people in a packed movie theater in Aurora, Colo. One of the victims was Alex Sullivan. He was celebrating his 27th birthday that night. On the fifth anniversary of the shooting, Alex's parents, Tom and Terry Sullivan, came to StoryCorps.

TOM SULLIVAN: I remember when I called my mom and I told her, there's been a shooting and Alex was in the theater, that was the first time I ever heard her cry. The day he was born, I told her from the hospital that she had a grandson. And then 27 years to the day, I had to call her again and tell her that her grandson had been murdered. You know, when the theater reopened, we were there.

TERRY SULLIVAN: I knew you had to go, and especially on his birthday.

TOM SULLIVAN: I remember saying, we're going to celebrate Alex's birthday the way that we always have. So we'll go and sit in Alex's seat that he was murdered in, you know, Row 12, Seat 12. That's where he was. And that's where we will always be.

MARTIN: A few days ago, the Sullivans came back to StoryCorps. They still mark Alex's birthday by sitting in Row 12, Seat 12 in the Century Aurora Theater.

TOM SULLIVAN: One time, I walked in. And there were three, you know, kids sitting in those seats. So I sat in the row in front of them. And about five minutes later, the three of them just got up.

TERRY SULLIVAN: It was almost like he gave a little nudge.

TOM SULLIVAN: Yeah, like, hey, guys, my dad's here. You've got to move. And so he's in the important places to us. How do you want Alex to be remembered?

TERRY SULLIVAN: I think you're doing a pretty good job now not letting people forget not just Alex, but every person that has been murdered.

TOM SULLIVAN: The least I can do in each of these kinds of situations is read their names. We should know what they meant to their family and their communities. I still do kind of struggle. More people are dying by gun violence than they were 10 years ago. I have to suppress the utter anger that I have because all I can think about is how Molly, our granddaughter, is never going to know her uncle, Alex. But at the end of the night, we have to be hopeful because if you don't have dreams, you have nothing but nightmares.


MARTIN: Tom and Terry Sullivan in Centennial, Colo., remembering their son, Alex. Their conversation will be archived at the Library of Congress.


NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Liyna Anwar
Jo Corona