AURORA, Colo. -- Jessica Ghawi narrowly escaped a murderous rampage at a shopping center 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.
"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 an early morning massacre in a Colorado theater, along with at least 11 others, by a gunman wielding an assault-style rifle, a shotgun, a handgun and canisters of a noxious chemical.
While Ghawi's family learned her fate quickly, others were caught in a terrible limbo, unable to find any information until Friday night. Officers with a list of those confirmed dead met with the family members late Friday to tell them the fate of their loved ones.
Ghawi -- who went by the name Jessica Redfield professionally -- had red hair and a gleam in her eye. The 24-year-old had a big heart and big plans, friends said.
About a year ago, she moved to Denver from San Antonio to pursue her career, her brother, Jordan, told Denver TV station KUSA. She worked as an intern at 104.3 The Fan, a Denver sports radio station, which posted a tribute to her on its home page.
On her blog, Ghawi's personality shone through. "I specialize in sports media and snark," she wrote. "Not your typical sarcastic feisty redhead attempting to perfect the trifecta of class, sass, and crass. Yankee born, Texas raised, Colorado blooming."
Hours before the midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises," Ghawi joked on Twitter that 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, Brent and Jessica immediately dropped to the floor, Jordan Ghawi wrote.
Lowak called 911, heard Ghawi scream and realized that 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 that 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 immediately called Ghawi's mother.
A short while later, Jordan Ghawi wrote, "I received an hysterical, and almost unintelligible, phone call from my mother stating that my sister ... had been shot."
Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said Friday evening that in addition to the 12 dead, 70 were injured, but not all were shot. Eleven remain in critical condition.
The wounded ranged from three months to 45 years old, according to hospitals. Most appeared to be teenagers and young adults. A Navy sailor is believed to be among the dead.
It was to be a weekend full of fun for Alex Sullivan: He planned to ring in his 27th birthday with friends at the midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" and then celebrate his first wedding anniversary on Sunday.
Late Friday, Sullivan's family confirmed that he was among those killed in the shooting rampage after being notified by police.
"He was a very, very good young man," said Sullivan's uncle, Joe Loewenguth. "He always had a smile, always made you laugh. He had a little bit of comic in him. Witty, smart. He was loving, had a big heart."
The family of Micayla Medek, 23, went through an almost unimaginable emotional torture Friday. They knew she'd been wounded in the shooting; her friends who'd accompanied her told them as much. But it took nearly 20 hours to get the awful news.
Late Friday, they learned that Cayla, as they called her, had died in the theater. Anita Busch, a cousin of Medek's father, confirmed that authorities told family members Medek died from injuries suffered in the attack.
Cayla's father, Greg Medek, and her older sister, Amanda, had spent most of the day frantically rushing to the six local hospitals that had treated the wounded, hoping for any information. They showed her picture to law enforcement authorities and pleaded for help. They also went to the local high school, where families had been told to rendezvous with loved ones who survived the attack. They learned nothing.
Hours before the family learned of Cayla's fate, an aunt said the family was in emotional turmoil.
"My brother is very religious and this is really challenging his belief," said Greg Medek's sister, Jenny Zakovich of South Milwaukee, Wis. "We don't know what to do -- we feel so helpless."
On her Facebook page, Micayla identified herself as a Subway sandwich artist. "I'm a simple independent girl who's just trying to get her life together while still having fun," she wrote.
Micayla's friends told family members they tried to carry her out of the theater after she was wounded but were instructed by emergency personnel to leave her inside, Zakovich said.
"She was coughing and she fell to the ground, and that's when the police or whoever was trying to help her ushered them out and said 'There is nothing you can do,' " Zakovich said.
"I keep looking at her Facebook page, hoping she will say, 'I am OK,' " said her aunt, hours before her death was confirmed. "But there's nothing."
Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.