Local Colorado Shooting Victim Forgives Suspect

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FOREST, Ohio -- Gage Hankins and his family are back home in the Hardin County village of Forest, three days after Gage was shot during the massacre at the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.  

Gage, 18, an incoming freshman at Mount Union, was in the theater next to Theater Nine with his 14-year-old brother and a group of friends from a stuttering support group. He was wounded when a bullet fired by the killer pierced the theater wall and struck him in the forearm.

"The first thing I thought of 'this is a dream, this isn't real’, said Gage. “And it was just crazy to think that this could actually happen."

When friends helped Gage get outside the theater first responders offered him aid, but he told them there were victims inside the theater who were in greater need of help.

"There are people who got shot in the face, in the side, in the neck, this is just an arm, it'll be fine, go help them," said Hankins.   

The actions of the gunman, James Holmes, 24, initially filled Hankins and his family with fear, but as they learn more about Holmes they have sympathy for him and his family.

"My thoughts later were forgiveness, you know he needs help, so we've got to forgive him," said Gage’s father, Dave Hankins.

After going successful surgery in Colorado to remove four pieces of shrapnel from his arm, Gage Hankins now faces a month of rehabilitation. He said he will not allow the Colorado  massacre to affect the way he feels about going to the movies or anywhere else.

"The shooter's intent was to harm people and make people fear him, but if you don't go back to the movies because you're scared to, that means he's won."