Funerals begin for Colo. theater shooting victims

July 25, 2012 - 10:36 AM

DENVER (AP) — A Colorado father killed in last week's theater shootings will be the first to be laid to rest, as a funeral service for the man who took his two teenage children to the midnight movie showing of the new Batman movie was planned for Wednesday.

Gordon Cowden, 51, was the oldest of the 12 people killed in the massacre at the "Dark Knight Rises" showing. The businessman's children escaped the shooting unharmed. His funeral was being held at a church in Denver.

Later this week, families of other victims planned to say their final goodbyes. Funerals were planned in towns from San Antonio, home of aspiring sportscaster Jessica Ghawi, to Crystal Lake, Ill., hometown of Navy intelligence officer John Thomas Larimer.

Cowden lived in Aurora, but was described as a "true Texas gentleman" in a family statement. He loved the outdoors and owned his own business.

"A quick-witted world traveler with a keen sense of humor, he will be remembered for his devotion to his children and for always trying his best to do the right thing, no matter the obstacle," his family said.

Also Wednesday, residents of the apartment building where suspect James Holmes lived are waiting to see if they could return home five days after the shooting.

The small apartment building near the University of Colorado, Denver, medical campus was cleared as a precaution because police said Holmes had booby trapped his apartment with a trip wire, explosives and unknown liquids.

Because many of the shooting victims have families outside Denver, authorities have assigned each victim's family a communications officer to keep them updated on the case. Holmes is due in court next Monday, when he will hear the charges against him.