Colorado State football recruit Zack Golditch was wounded below his earlobe early Friday morning when a bullet entered the Aurora, Colo., movie theater he was in, which was adjacent to the one in which alleged shooter James Holmes killed 12 people at the screening of the latest Batman movie.
Fifty-eight people were wounded in the tragedy.
"There was a gun scene in the movie, and I saw smoke and I thought it was fireworks," Golditch said. "Then it felt like fireworks blew up in my ear. I yelled. There was blood dropping on my hands. I looked up and saw a guy with a hole in his arm mumbling. I ran out of the theater and into the mall parking lot where some construction workers called an ambulance."
Golditch said the scene at a local hospital was troubling.
"I didn't realize I had been shot until I was at the hospital for 20 minutes," he said. "Everyone was screaming and covered in blood. There was a guy in critical condition so they moved me. I saw people shot in the leg. I saw doctors running everywhere."
According to Golditch, a doctor said he had small amounts of shrapnel left in his neck, near the hairline.
"Luckily, just an exit wound," he said.
"I feel blessed to be alive. It makes me take a second look at life because I could have died."
Golditch said about 10 players from his Gateway High School team in Aurora were in either theatre.
"All I can say is the whole thing has made us closer as a team," he said.
A former Winona State football player also was among the wounded.
Carey Rottman, 27, a native of Mequon, Wis., who played football at Division-II Winona State and now works for Coors Distributing Co., was shot in his right leg. He was visited in the hospital Saturday by Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Jordan Murphy, a 6-foot-1, 225-pound fullback and linebacker at Colorado State, said he was seated in the third row with Andrew Bowers, who plays basketball at NAIA school Concordia (Neb.), and two other friends for the showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" when the gunman entered the theater about 20 feet from them. Murphy and Bowers attended Lutheran High School in the Denver area.
Murphy said Bowers, who is 6-7, was injured when he ducked to the floor, cutting his knees and his head, when two gas canisters were thrown by the suspect. Murphy told The Associated Press that a bullet whizzed past his head as he and his friends fled the theater.
Murphy, a 19-year-old sophomore from Castle Rock, Colo., who is sitting out this season after transferring from Colorado State, said he didn't think it was odd when the suspect, James Holmes, entered through an emergency exit and stood there for several seconds.
Like so many others, Murphy figured it was a publicity stunt.
"It was a movie premiere, so people were dressed up like Catwoman, people were dressed in Batman outfits, dressed up in Robin outfits," Murphy said Saturday. "If it was any other movie, it would have been suspicious, but because it was Batman, he wasn't. I assumed it was a publicity stunt because he was trying to look like the villain, Bane. As soon as he threw the gas canisters, I knew it was an attack and immediately ducked down."
Murphy said he and his friends stayed on the floor in front of their seats for about three minutes. Bowers was bleeding.
"He's a big guy, he's 6-7, so he scraped up his knees and his head was cut up because we had to duck so fast to the floor and he hit the chairs," Murphy said.
Murphy said his group decided to make a run for it when the shooter stopped firing for a few seconds. They crawled through their aisle, then stood up and made a dash for the entrance.
The gunman spun around and fired at Murphy, who was frantically following his three friends -- two men and a woman, all of whom are 19.
"We flew out of there as fast as we could. As soon as he saw us, he shot at us," Murphy said. "I was in the back and he shot at me and almost hit me."
The bullet missed his head by a couple of inches and struck drywall, which fell on him as he fled, Murphy said.
Murphy and his friends ran to their car and sped to Bowers' house, where they watched coverage of the tragedy on television.
Murphy said he's been glued to the news for the latest information on the victims and Holmes, who will make his first court appearance Monday.
"I'm actually really curious," Murphy said. "It all doesn't make sense. I just want to know if he had a motive or if he was just crazy."
Murphy said he won't be able to attend movies again for a while.
"It's traumatic," he said. "Going in the near future doesn't seem likely. Eventually, I'll get over my fear, just got to trust God with everything. But not for a while."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.