PHOENIX — An Arizona man who was among the Colorado movie theater shooting victims was cremated this week, as his father remembered him as having a gift for defusing tense situations and a “heart of gold.”
Alex Teves and 11 others were shot and killed Friday in Aurora, Colo., at a midnight showing of the latest Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Services were held Thursday in Denver for another victim, Micayla Medek, 23.
Teves, who grew up in Phoenix and graduated from an Arizona high school and college, died while shielding his girlfriend from the gunfire. His father, Tom Teves, said his wife did not get a chance to say goodbye before their son was cremated because he didn’t want her to see the badly wounded body.
“He was one of the kindest kids who always gave of himself,” Tom Teves told the Arizona Republic. “You won’t find anyone who has a bad word to say about him, and that was true even before he died.”
James Holmes is accused of opening fire on a theater, killing the dozen people and injuring 58. He is due to be formally charged at a court hearing scheduled Monday in Colorado.
Tom Teves said he was on vacation in Hawaii with his wife and two other sons when they got the news from Alex’s girlfriend, who was hysterical. Alex Teves recently earned his master’s degree in psychology and was planning to become a physical therapist, his father said.
The younger Teves served as a mentor at the University of Arizona in Tucson and at the University of Denver. One of the people he mentored contacted the family this week saying that Alex Teves had set him on the right path, changing his life.
“Alex had the heart of a lion,” his father said. “He had a heart of gold, too. He marched to the beat of his own drummer. He never was concerned about being cool.”
Tom Teves added: “At 18, he was a better man than I am at 52. Even in death, he is teaching me.”
At Medek’s funeral, mourners wore pink ribbons, some with Hello Kitty faces on them, in honor of her fondness for the color and the character.
Her young second cousin, Kailyn Vigil, sobbed and some family members had to be supported as Medek’s coffin was placed in the hearse.
Medek attended Aurora Community College and worked at a Subway sandwich shop. Family members described her as loving and independent-minded.
Visitation was held Thursday for theater victim Alex Sullivan, who was known as a gentle man with a glowing smile. His funeral will be private, and no details have been released.
Former Air Force linguist Rebecca Wingo, who was killed in the shooting, is being remembered at a private memorial service Friday.
Her mother, Shirley Wygal, also is having a public celebration of Wingo’s life at the pub Wingo regularly visited. The public gathering is scheduled Friday night at Baker Street Pub and Grill in Denver.
Meanwhile, the body of a former Reno, Nev., resident who died in the shooting was being flown home to be buried.
The family of 26-year-old Navy veteran Jonathan Blunk said his body is to arrive Friday at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, KOLO-TV reported (http://goo.gl/UdxVr ). Blunk graduated from Reno’s Hug High School in 2004.
His funeral is scheduled for Aug. 3 at the Mountain View Mortuary.
The Reno Aces baseball team has announced a fund-raiser to benefit Blunk’s family. The Arizona Diamondbacks’ AAA affiliate will donate $5 of every ticket sold on Friday for the remainder of the current home stand to the Jonathan Blunk Memorial Fund.
The donations apply to tickets purchased on Friday for that night’s game against Pacific Coast League foe Colorado Springs, as well as games Saturday through Tuesday against Sacramento.