On The Guy Who Left His Girlfriend and Kids in the Aurora Theater

Damon Young insists that before you criticize Jamie Rohrs, realize that unless you’ve been in a life-or-death situation, you don’t have a f*cking clue what you would do if you were him.

Originally appeared at Very Smart Brothas

With the exception of both “Kill Bill” movies, “The Dark Knight,” and that time my parents rented “Ghostbusters” and I got so excited that I broke out in hives (Apparently, randomly strange six year olds do turn out to be randomly strange adults), I can’t think of another movie I’ve anticipated more than Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming “Django Unchained.”

I mentioned this fact to a friend (“John”) a week or so ago, and after a passive-aggressively condescending debate about whether Tarantino is overrated, the subject shifted to slavery.

Man, I would have escaped, or they would have had to kill me,” he stated. “I barely tolerate taking orders from the executive VP at work. How the hell would I be another man’s slave?”

“You just bought a juicer,” I jokingly reminded him. “No way your post-racial ass would have navigated the Underground Railroad.”

The conversation shifted again soon after that, but the quickness and sheer certainty of John’s reply when stating that he’d never allow anyone to enslave him stayed with me. It reminded me of the time I used Maus in an 12th grade English class I taught, and how many of the students remarked that they either would have escaped the concentration camps or died trying. It also harkened back to the time shortly after 9/11 when people started to question how planes full of dozens of people allowed a couple guys with beards and box cutters to hijack, kidnap, and eventually murder everyone on board.

And, whenever I hear people making those types of statements, the same thought goes through my head:

“You have no fucking idea what you would have done”

Not wanting to start an argument about something that can never actually be proven, I usually keep that thought to myself. But, the fact remains that unless you’ve actually been in a life or death situation before, you really have no idea how you’d react. You think you know and you want to believe your fight instinct would override your flight, but unless they’ve felt actual pressure, none of us know exactly how strong our pipes actually are.

So, while the rest of the country has gone in on Jamie Rohrs, the guy who left his girlfriend, her four year old daughter, and their infant son behind while he escaped the shooting at the “Dark Knight Rises” premiere in Aurora, Colorado, I’m (somewhat) sympathetic towards him.

Don’t get me wrong. I do believe that we have every right to criticize his actions. Leaving your girl, your girl’s kid, and your own freakin infant to somehow protect themselves from a crazed gunman is about as bitch-ass as a person can get.

But, I wonder how many of us would have responded in the same way, and my sympathy comes from the fact that he has to live the rest of his life knowing that when life gave him a lemon, he truly did say Fuck the lemons” and bailed.

Obviously — as the men who died in that theater while shielding loved ones proves — there are many of us who’d do the noble thing, the heroic thing if placed in that situation. I believe that I would have too. I believe that I’d sacrifice my own life to save a loved one. I believe that I would have attempted to stop the 9/11 hijackers, that I would have somehow thwarted slavery, and that if I were in Joe Paterno’s shoes in 1998, I wouldn’t have hesitated in alerting the police to my pedophile colleague and close friend.

But, do I know, with 100% certainty, how I would have reacted if placed in any of those situations? No, and I hope to never find out.

AP Photo 
About Damon Young

Pittsburgh native Damon Young (aka “The Champ”) is the co-founder of VerySmartBrothas.com. Their first book Your Degrees Won’t Keep You Warm At Night: The Very Smart Brothas Guide To Dating, Mating and Fighting Crime is available at Amazon.com


  1. Richard Aubrey says:

    Mixing up a bunch of separate questions.
    1. What would I do?
    2. What do I hope I would do?
    3. What should someone do in that situation?
    4. What did I do in a similar situation, if I’ve been in a similar situation?
    5. Would the answer to the above predict what I’d do next time?
    6. If I fail, what do I think of myself?
    7. If I haven’t been in that situation, do I have the right to suggest the proper thing?\
    7a. If only those who’ve been in that situation have the right to suggest the proper thing, what would it be, and would we want to be bound by it?
    The effect of social expectations. There was a battle in South Africa in which about 3000 British Infantry were killed by a Zulu attack. Islandwanha (sp?) The formation included about forty officers who were mounted and could have escaped. None did. They dismounted in accordance with social expectation and the implicit contract with the Soldiers.
    During the Boer War, a minor German princeling, of the celebrity news class, was touring the area with a British officer as escort. They were attacked by villagers. The German was killed and the Brit escaped. He was “cut by society” as the phrasing went, and eventually killed himself. He got away. Not the thing.
    Perhaps he got to his quarters one evening, to find somebody had thoughtfully left a bottle of brandy and a pistol.
    See “Birkenhead Drill”.

  2. You’re right, I don’t know how I would react if I was in that situation, but you know what? That doesn’t matter.
    What we DO know, is how this cowardly little turd reacted, and it was the most cowardly possible course of action he could have possibly taken, short of using his family as human shields.
    He deserves every bit of criticism he gets, and then some.
    If I was in such a situation, and reacted in a similarly cowardly way, I would expect and accept every bit of the well justified hatred it would garner.

  3. During emergency situations there can be a tendency to hyper-focus as an attempt to deal with something your brain is unable to process using its usual responses. Just speculation on my part, but if his stress response to this was “get the police” then this response was consistent with the circumstances. In this sort of panic mode, literally all the rest of the world leaves your mind as you focus on the “task” as a coping mechanism for a situation that your brain can’t comprehend.

    I prefer to not assign right or wrong to these sorts of events. Obviously protecting the family unit would have been the more socially acceptable (and actually better) response, but I view it more as a likely response to a fight or flight scenario than cowardice.

    We can all Monday morning quarterback but we weren’t there.

  4. I hope he can forgive himself if he believes he did wrong. That’s a big rock of regret to carry around otherwise. It could crush him literally. Or possibly he just won the lottery, missing that earthquake of bad-luck that rolled over the lives of all those that did not make it out alive. I really hope that he and his wife, and two little dumplings do well.

  5. I SO agree with the above comments about women not being expected to (and thus shamed if they don’t) rescue other adults (“their” men… anyone else other than their own children, etc….).
    AND: as a trauma therapist, I can say that we’d LIKE to have control over how our nervous system reacts in a situation like this, but in the moment, we simply DON’T. Some people’s wiring creates more of a “fight” response, some have more of a “freeze” response, and some’s default is the “flight” version… the only variables that can often have influence is whether the person has previous trauma in their history… how long ago, what type, etc. etc. etc.
    No matter what size, how “brave” one believes themselves to be (or thinks they should/would be when the shit goes down), all bets are off and the reptilian brain takes over. Period.

  6. I feel the same as the author of this article.

    And to sadly add some insight into the “What if” argument, here is a comment on another site about the men that shielded others: ”
    (As for the men who dived in front of others to “save” them? Oh please. Men are nothing but cowards and bullies. They weren’t diving to save others. They were diving to save themselves. What else is new with men? Now stop trying to pretend cowards are heroes.) The contempt and venom is this comment is shocking.

    From this men are damn if we do, and damn if we don’t and damned just because we are men.

  7. Wait, who’s to say the mother didn’t stay (not run) in order to protect her kids? Doesn’t that make her a hero?

    • Yes, that would be heroic. Now flip it. If he’d not run, and was credited with staying to protect his kids while she ran out the door as fast as she could, would that make her a coward? How about any of the other women who ran, or didn’t try to use themselves as human shields. Were they cowards? Should they be ashamed?

      • A woman who didn’t protect her kids would absolutely be considered a coward by society. Think about it. When a mother is pictured out drinking or doing too many things for herself, people rush to shame her for being a terrible mother. Running out and leaving your kids (especially ones so young) to die would be considered a despicable action by a mother by most people.

  8. Colette Wedding says:

    I wouldn’t blame this man for panicking; wouldn’t blame him for freezing; wouldn’t blame him for hiding his baby believing that’s giving the child the best chances of surviving; I sure as hell don’t expect him to “throw donw his life” because he is a man and don’t even necessarily expect him to do so because he is a father, and I’m not assuming I know that I’d be a hero in this situation.

    However, it seems that not did he simply panick and leave his family, he set his baby down, took off out of the theater… and then drove home. THAT is problematic, I don’t care if you’re a man or a woman, and in fact I’m not aching about his actions toward his girlfriend so much as the children, especially his baby. People, he took off and then drove home! Unless that is incorrect, which I hope it is, then I don’t feel bad for blaming him.

    As for the people claiming nobody gave women a hard time for not saving their kids, well we don’t have any stories about women taking off on their kids to know. Unsurprisingly though, we do have people blaming women for taking their children and infants out to a movie theater at midnight.

    • As far as I know he went outside, drove away to call the police. Maybe in his mind it was more important to get police there ASAP, even more important than protecting your own kids (greater good n all that). I heard he also had to climb down a balcony, which is extremely dangerous for a small child to be in his arms whilst doing.

      Getting police to the scene is the number 1 priority when you have a mad gunmen with lots n ammo n body protection, no one in the audience really has a chance against that unless someone is carrying and could get a lucky headshot. And dead people can’t dial 911…

      • Colette Wedding says:

        Why would he need to drive off in order to contact police? It’s dangerous to climb down with a baby? You do realize they’re already in a threater being shot up, correct? You’re offering a tortured narrative that explains away everything negative as part of “great good’ that just doesn’t add up.

        • Because a 5.56mm assault rifle will probably penetrate to where he was, and a stray bullet can go quite a way.

          Given the same situation for me, I’d try to keep the baby n family with me but I would be thinking the priority is to get the police contacted considering the guy is armed heavily and has body armor, I’d be dialing n running/driving/getting at least 1000yards away before I felt safe.

          Depending on what the balcony was, if there are no ladders then you can take the risk n jump off with baby in your arms, try climb down with 1 arm, or try find some secluded spot hoping the baby won’t be found and has enough ballistic protection around. But who knows, they’re just possible options, he may simply have freaked n ran later realizing he didn’t have his family with him. The mind doesn’t act like we assume it would, and I doubt most of the critics of this guy could be 100% sure they wouldn’t do anything similar. It’s easy to think how brave you would be in protecting your family but when fight/flight kicks in, the brain doesn’t always let YOU have control. It’s the same system involved where some rape victims say they couldn’t move, they tried to move but they couldn’t. Same system where they might lie there n let the rapist do their thing hoping it’d end soon. Our survival instincts can be so powerful that we are 100% selfish. Is he a coward? I dunno if I could call him that. It’s not good what he did but he’s human, coward is a shitty word used by people outside of a situation to shame the victims because they didn’t act in a socially acceptable way. And to that I say bollocks, because I highly doubt most of the critics are the heroes they think they are.

          • Colette Wedding says:

            “Because a 5.56mm assault rifle will probably penetrate to where he was, and a stray bullet can go quite a way”

            If that is supposed to explain away getting into his truck to drive off and (supposedly) get help then he’d have been too concerned about his baby’s safety than to set the child down in the room where the shooting takes place and run off.

            “It’s the same system involved where some rape victims say they couldn’t move, they tried to move but they couldn’t.”

            Except he did move. He moved a lot, he moved far, far away from his family which included the baby he deliberately set down. A better comparison would be a potential rape victim setting his baby down and running off. I’m not blaming him for not being a hero, I’m calling his running away as much as he could what it is – he left his baby behind and saved himself. You’re simply trying to construct a narrative by explaining everything away.

            • I’m trying to give reasons why he may have done it, and suggesting those reasons can be outside of his control. Fight, flight, freeze. People don’t always think rationally when in danger. It’s a very easy concept to understand, you’re simply trying to ignore nature to paint this guy as some terrible father when the reality of the situation is that he may have had zero control over his actions and was running on pure adrenaline + basic survival instinct. It’s not a universal instinct to protect your kids with your own life, throwing yourself in harms way etc. Not everyone can think calmly, not everyone will be able to control their actions. He may have only regained “consciousness” to his actions 20 meters down the road in his vehicle and sat there wondering wtf to do.

              But all I see are a bunch of internet heroes judging n condemning his actions as inexcusable when you all get to make the decision with a calm mind. Try make that same decision when you’re body is in fight or flight mode, you have pure adrenaline, tunnel vision/hyperfocus and your body isn’t responding to your desires. Just as a rape victim can’t escape at times when their body freezes, this guy probably couldn’t stop himself running like crazy.

              If someone throws a punch at you, do you actively think to yourself “Hmm, I am going to block that punch” or does your body automatically bring your arm up to your face?

              • Colette Wedding says:

                “I’m trying to give reasons why he may have done it, and suggesting those reasons can be outside of his control. Fight, flight, freeze. People don’t always think rationally when in danger.”

                So you’re trying to explain it away by constructing a narrative flowing forth from Fight or Flight Response. Are you admitting, then, that his actions had zero to do with concern for his child? Because before, you implied that it was all for the greater good that he got away from the theater in order to get help. So was he thinking of his kid or not? Are we just misunderstanding the acts of setting a child down, climbing down a balcony, running outside, getting into a car, and then driving off leaving family behind?

                “If someone throws a punch at you, do you actively think to yourself “Hmm, I am going to block that punch” or does your body automatically bring your arm up to your face?”

                Setting your baby down, climbing down a balcony, running outside, getting into your vehicle and driving off *ISN’T* instinctively “blocking a punch,” it requires prolonged calmness and awareness. There were a lot of steps in between setting the baby down and driving off. Also, when you bring up the rape comparison, you keep forgetting the baby.

                • As I said, it can be a multitude of reasons. Did he make a good choice? No, but I can understand that he may have made them without truly thinking it through. I don’t know how long it took to get down from the balcony, how long the entire process was. It may have been only a few seconds before he was on the groundfloor n realized.

                  To me, I feel he could have been running purely on instinct, or at least partially and that can make him act in a completely selfish manner. How exactly am I explaining it away? Giving a reason for an action doesn’t reduce that action. It doesn’t make it any less wrong, but simply I am saying that even you may make the same mistake in the same situation. People don’t always act in a perfectly rational or logical manner in a crisis as we may think they would. In the heat of the moment the reptilian brain I believe it’s called takes over quite a lot. He may not have realized what he did until a few minutes had passed, when adrenaline lowers, tunnel vision ends, etc.

                  He may have acted out of pure self interest, he may have acted in a “greater good”, he may have acted in a mix of both. I’m giving potential reasons why he may have acted that way, I’m not saying he DID act that way.

  9. Alberich says:

    It seems to me that people lump to distinct things together,
    1.This guy didn’t take care of his girlfriend
    2.This guy didn’t take care of the (very small) kids
    If the first behaviour should be criticised is up for debate and might depend on gendered expectations. For example let us rephrase it (in the spirit of gender equality), what if a woman has escaped the theater and left her boyfriend behind? She might have even done him a favour, as then he wouldn’t have to worry about her, but only about himself.
    The second behaviour on the other hand must be criticised, if you take care of small kids (here 4 years and younger), you have to keep track of what happens to them and do everything you can to protect them, as they almost totally rely on you. I am not claiming that this guy is a wuss and I would have done better (obviously I can not know for sure), but that in this case there is only one morally right view.

  10. I remember when the event was being televised and I remember this guy being interviewed. Face was fogged so he wouldn’t be recognized. He stated that they police wouldn’t allow him to go to the hospital because they were questioning him about his possible involvement because his family was left behind and he had made it out. So from the get go, he was already tagged in a negative light.

  11. I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but… if any feminists think that only men have privilege, here’s a concrete example to the contrary. Men are expected to willingly risk or give their lives to protect pretty much anyone, but especially women and children. When they do, they’re rightly considered heros, but if they don’t, they’re called cowards who should be ashamed of themselves. Women, on the other hand, would probably get called heros for taking a bullet while shielding a boyfriend/husband, but that boyfriend/husband would still be stuck with the coward label, and most likely feel very ashamed. If a woman just flees, or allows herself to be shielded, there’s no coward/shame problem, because that’s just being a woman.

    I’m not saying this guy did the right thing, but he did a human thing that both men and women do, but only one gender gets shamed for it. (If there are any stories about this shooting shaming women for not using themselves as human shields, I haven’t seen them.) I hope I would act differently, especially if my kids were there, but as the author said, I can’t know unless it ever happens, and I sure hope it doesn’t. However, in life and death situations like this, the lives of men are considered much more disposable, and men who aren’t okay with that – even when acting on pure untrained instinct – are shamed as cowards.

    I’m also reluctant to be too harsh on this guy because even though it had to be chaos in there, we read an undetailed account of “leaving without his girlfriend and kids” and assume we know everyhthing, like he just yelled “See ya!” and sprinted for the exit. Maybe he did, but it’s also possible that in the chaos, he thought they were already getting out, or that he was leading them, or that he had to get out of the way of others trying to get out, and so on. I doubt it was as simple as an instant “Me first!” reaction, but even if it was, the biggest problem people seem to have with that is that it was a man who had it.

    • THIS. We have the “mamma bear” archetype where a woman *fights* for her kids, but she’s not actually supposed to die, just rip the threat a new one and hug her kids after. For men, though? To be a hero you are expected to risk your own life, and, more often than not, lose that gamble. Why is no one complaining that the girlfriend didn’t shield *him*?

    • Thirded! All human life is valuable. A man’s life is not less so than a woman’s, any more than a black’s is less valuable than a white’s, or a gay’s than a heterosexual’s. It’s kind of disgusting that men are expected to be self-sacrificing heroes even today, while women Must Be Protected right along with the *genuinely* helpless children.

  12. Clarenceinbalt says:

    I think we are forgetting about this guy:


    Women weren’t the only one’s saved in that theater.

    Now there’s alot of things we could talk about:
    A. Why didn’t any women try to save their men?
    B. How the vast majority of people in the theater weren’t esp. heroic.
    But I guess I really just wanted to make sure that guy was remembered, as well as to talk about the subject of this thread.
    I normally wouldn’t come down on a man for NOT being willing to sacrifice his life. Single man/Single woman – I owe her nothing, though I might choose to protect her, it’s not something I owe her.
    But he had a child of his own in this theater. Parents have a responsibility to protect their children. I’d argue that if you have a child with someone you have a family- even if you never formally get married – and stronger members of the family are generally obligated to protect weaker members from dangers – at least dangers that are not of their own making. It would be different if he was say, an old or disabled man or his wife/fiancee had streetfighting experience or multiple black belts. Then she’d be the stronger member of the family.

    In short, this man failed his duty to protect. Now that doesn’t mean he can’t regain his honor in the future, but at this point, if I was him, I’d be very ashamed.

  13. You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.

    You won’t hear about any of the women who booked it out of the theater, but this man gets pilloried for fleeing for his life. It is truly, TRULY shameful. Yeah… running from a hail of bullets as opposed to hanging out and throwing your own life in the trash, what a coward. Maybe I’m crazy but I’ve heard of this crazy concept called self preservation where the subconscious takes over the body to KEEP YOU FROM DYING.

  14. When the shit hits the fan, often people go PURE instinct. The first n foremost instinct for most animals is fight or flight, and considering the dude was packing heavy firepower the only real option was to flee. Problem is he forgot his family but I can’t blame him for that, the terror involved can easily override all of your rational thought, you act before you think basically and so he saved himself.

    I bet he felt like crap after but can you blame him really? It’s scary as hell and that can cloud your judgment. Would it be better if he tried to take down the shooter? A dead father is useless to raising a kid.

  15. Luis Escobar says:

    I agree there’s not much anyone in that theater could do against a psycho w/ an arsenal and body full body armor. Yet it doesn’t change the fact that when his moment came for fight or flight, his first instinct was to flee. The man is a coward.

    • Copyleft says:

      I’m fine with that conclusion… as long as we similarly condemn every single WOMAN in that theater who ran instead of trying to shield her husband or boyfriend.

      But somehow, there don’t seem to be any news stories about them, are there?

      • Luis Escobar says:

        Except there were women being courageous like this girl who tried to protect her 4 month old & 4 year old. I haven’t heard of any women protecting men at the theater but that might have to do with how deeply ingrained the concept of men are the protectors whether people like it or not.

        Regardless though, the girl and the kid who ended up helping her and her kids were the heroes.
        The boyfriend who decided to ditch his girl and the two kids and hop into his car waiting for everything to die down before going back is a coward deep down and nothing will likely change that. Pretty simple.

      • He left his child big difference. And his women shielded there kids.

      • what is your PROBLEM with women? The woman he left, not only was WOUNDED, but never abandoned her 4 year old and managed to locate the INFANT the MAN discarded while fleeing for his own singular life. Never mind he DROVE OFF, and never even bothered to stop and check if they LIVED. You look like a fool, defending a gender, who acted foolishly.

  16. PursuitAce says:

    So what are we criticizing him for? Shielding someone is just like jumping on a hand grenade. It’s the last thing you do before you are dead. This guy was in the balcony with three other dependents. First of all who is he going to shield? All three of them at once? Or maybe since he’s at a distance he might try to get them out of there in the crowd? And how many shooters are there coming from what direction? This is a guy with little or no tactical training, no intel on the threat, and three other people to protect as well as himself who has found himself in a matter of seconds in a situation of deadly mass chaos. Anyone that would like to criticize him might first read up on some of the appropriate responses to active shooters at least before commenting. This is a society that loves to give an amateur opinion about anything and everything even before the facts are known or misreported by the press.

    • Quadruple A says:

      Yep, we have no idea of knowing if he truly even failed to protect his family or if he simply had no way to protect his family. And yes I agree American society, at least American society, seems to have a problem with feeling certain about opinions that don’t have foundations in fact.

    • Celeste says:

      I think the point here is that he didn’t even try. He didn’t pick one person to shield, pick up and run with, or anything else. I don’t think anybody would have criticized him for taking care of one child over the other. It’s the fact that he ran, which doesn’t show any thought of those he left behind. He left his woman as encumbered as she could possibly be with a very dependent child and a helpless baby, in harm’s way. Then he goes on tv and makes it all about himself and his fear. Disgusting.

      • Celeste: So let me get this straight…

        You’re mad at him for panicking and running. Even though he’s a victim in this and was facing down a masked, armed lunatic in the most unlikely of places. And I agree leaving his kids seems pretty shitty. But as Damon said, you don’t know what that’s like til you’ve been in it. I’d like to think I would’ve reacted differently and I truly believe that to be the case, but none of us know for sure.

        But then you criticize him after the fact for going on TV where he “makes it all about himself and his fear. Disgusting.” Are you serious?? You’re mad at him for directly and honestly answering the question and admitting he was afraid? Celeste, there was someone shooting at him in a movie theater. Bodies were dropping and people were dying, and no one could see anything clearly because the shooter used tear gas. It is easily one of the most horrific and terrifying scenarios I can imagine, and you’re knocking him for admitting he’s afraid?? Sorry to be blunt, but shut the hell up!

        The guy told the truth. He was afraid. Moreover, he expressed remorse for his actions when he talked about finding himself outside the theater and thinking “Who leaves his child in there?” He knows he screwed up but you know what? At least he admits it. And admitted it in front of a national audience no less.

        It’s somewhat understandable to criticize his actions during the shooting, but assailing this guy afterward is pretty low.

        • He had his son in his hand. Dropped him and ran for his life. I’m sorry when you have children you live for them and do anything to protect them. You don’t drop your four month old and run. If he would have left his girl it would make this situation a little better. But he left his seed to die. No execute. Then he goes on tv and act like he accidentally dropped his son then couldn’t find him etc. be real he left his son to die while some black stranger saved his seed and his women and gets shot in the process.

  17. I have been in a tornado/severe weather situation and, instead of diving for cover I helped to get my grandfather, who suffered from dementia, into shelter before I sought it for myself. When shots broke out at my high school’s homecoming game, the year after I graduated, I threw my then girlfriend down and covered her until the situation was over–thank God or the gods or whatever no one was hurt in that situation. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and do what’s right even if it puts you in personal danger or discomfort. Never know how you’ll react–to crack or excel–until a situation comes up but I agree with the above, definitely, that the sort of training that one gets in the armed services, etc, helps to overcome the instinct to base self-preservation. Maybe some kind of training like that, just on a foundational level from childhood, would cause more people to watch out for and come to the aid of their fellow humans.

  18. Joanna Schroeder says:

    I think we may do better to talk about what is the best thing to do in these instances.

    We did a story not long ago on the Good Feed Blog about this woman who crashed her car at a toll booth and was stuck inside it. No one was helping her and I think the car was on fire… Maybe about to set on fire? People video taped it and stood around, finally this guy whom I think was in the National Guard or the Army just ran up with a fire extinguisher, broke through the glass and another guy helped pull her out.

    The analysis of these things often reflects that people who are military-trained handle crises like this much better than civilians because it’s sort of human nature to just freeze or run away, and part of the fundamentals of training service people is to practice defying that instinct over and over and over. My guess is that’s why often, in these situations, you hear of members of the armed forces being the ones to step forward first.

    I believe at least two or three of the people who saved others in the theater were military trained. I know Jon Blunk was, and I think one of the other guys who died, too… I’m certain there were more.

    • It’s not just about freezing and running away. It’s also about assuming that someone else (who knows more than me) will handle the situation. One morning when I took the train to work the man sitting next to me fidgedet and then he very lowly said “Sorry, I am not feeling well”, he held his glasses in his hand and he then closed his hand and crushed the glasses (I’ll always remember that detail) and subsequently lost consciousness. It was rush hour and the train was packed and had a lot of standing passenger and no open floor space. As I loosened his tie and top shirt button I observed the difference in response to my following to statements:
      “Someone, go get the train conductor!”
      “You (pointing at a young man standing close by), go get the train conductor!”

      I yelled the first one first and it became pretty clear within seconds that nobody were moving to get the train conductor. Everyone was waiting for someone else to heed the call.
      Then I went for the second statement and that random person I pointed at immediately went backwards in the train and returned a bit later with the train conductor who called ahead to the next station and requested an ambulance.

      • That’s a good example of how to get around the “Bystander Effect”, and I’ve seen it included in emergency training classes, teaching to single someone out to summon help, rather than making it a blanket request to an onlooking crowd. I don’t think it has much use in this scenario while the shooting is going on, but it’s still a good piece of info to have in your brain.

        • Yeah, I was more thinking of the situation Joanna described about the burning car with a crowd standing around doing nothing.

          As a sidenote which is a digression from this discussion I can tell that a short while after (I still were trying to establish whether he had a pulse and were complentating how I woiuld create enough space on the floor on the train to lay him down for CPR) when the train arrived at the station the man regained some consciousness. He was still very groggy and spoke with a slurred speech. When we told him that an ambulance was on its way he tried to insist that he had to get to work. The man likely had a stroke or a heart attack and the first thing on his mind was that he had to get to work! The conductor and I both had to support him walking off the train and we simply ordered him to sit on a bench until the paramedics/ambulance would arrive. The conductor stayed with him and I got back on the train and went on to work.

    • Richard Aubrey says:

      Seems as if we’re moving toward an excuse. “I was never in the military so I shouldn’t be expected to do anything.”

      • Copyleft says:

        Why not? Our society already has an accepted excuse of “I don’t have a Y chromosome so I shouldn’t be expected to do anything.” And nobody’s challenging that one.

  19. I do.

    I stood in front of her and took the blow because she was my daughter and that’s what you do.

    That’s all.

  20. I agree. We can go over these “what if” situations in our heads again and again, but no one knows for sure.


  1. […] These are comments by Joanna Schroeder, Tamen, Marcus Williams on the post “On The Guy Who Left His Girlfriend and Kids in the Aurora Theater“. […]

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