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AURORA, Colo. Louis Duran had just left work at a Chinese restaurant near Denver the night of July 19. He decided to get together with some friends after a long shift and see the premier of the latest Batman movie. He intended to go to a theatre close to his work, but after finding cheaper tickets, he fatefully changed plans and ended up at a theatre in Aurora.
Never in his wildest dreams did he imagine the night could end like it did.
"I was like, 'This is it for me,'" Duran said.
It was a thought that had to be going through everyone's head during a night of utter chaos in which James Holmes", decked out in full riot gear and with a high-capacity semi-automatic rifle, walked into a premier of "The Dark Knight Rises" and opened fire on the crowd, killing at least 12 and injuring over 70.
18-year-old Duran was one of the victims shot in the tragic and senseless massacre.
"I (got) hit in the head," he said. "It felt like someone really just punched me in the side of my head." Duran was no different than most in that theatre: At first, he thought the smoke bombs and the gunshots were a joke. That quickly changed.
I was just saying my last words to (my mother) because I honestly thought I was gonna die right there and then.
"I noticed that I'm bleeding all over the place. That's when I know that I don't know what's going on - a bomb is going off or someone shot me in my head," Duran said.
Pellets from a shotgun blast also hit Duran in the arm, fingers and chest. He quickly dropped to the ground and called his parents.
"I called my mom and I (said), ‘Mom, I love you so much. I don't know what happened. I got shot in the head or a bomb went off and something hit me. I'm bleeding all over the place," he said. "I was just saying my last words to her because I honestly thought I was gonna die right there and then."
They had a hard time believing him at first, but eventually he convinced them that he had been shot. That's when they knew their son was in danger and they were helpless.
"It was really hard to go through that experience," said mother Marian Duran. "I didn't know what to think and all I could say in my mind was ‘Lord, please protect him.'"
Duran was one of dozens who were then rushed to the hospital after the massacre ended and there was time to start caring for the wounded. Some, like Duran, would survive while 12 others perished. Physically, Duran will be alright, but emotionally the scars run deep.
"I feel pain, I feel anger and I feel sad all at the same time," he said. "It's going to be stuck in my mind for the rest of my life."