A former UT-San Antonio student was among the 12 people killed in the Aurora, Colo. shooting Friday. Since her death, Jessica Ghawi’s friends and family have taken to the airwaves to tell the world who she was and to urge the public to shift attention from the killer to the victims of the incident.
Ghawi, 24, was one of many attending the midnight premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises” when lone gunman James Holmes entered the packed movie theater and proceeded to indiscriminately shoot theater patrons. Holmes, dressed in riot apparel similar to the villain’s apparel in the movie, killed 12 people and injured 59 as of Sunday. Shortly after her death, Jordan Ghawi, Jessica’s brother, participated in interviews with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, FOX’s Greta Van Susteren and other news outlets to spread the word about victims like Ghawi. Jordan Ghawi also launched an Internet campaign via Twitter, Facebook and various personal blogs to encourage people to stop paying attention to Holmes.
“Let us remember the names of the victims and not the name of the coward who committed this act,” Jordan Ghawi tweeted on the day of Ghawi’s death.
By Saturday, Ghawi’s death had garnered so much media attention that her family began to direct media campaign efforts onto the other 11 victims killed to ensure that their stories were told as well.
Mike Lavender, a friend of both Ghawi and her family, said he admires the efforts by Ghawi’s family to share her memory with the world.
“She was one of the people that was always outgoing, the more the merrier,” he said. “She wasn’t ever afraid to stick her hand out and say, ‘Hi, I’m Jessica.’ She loved everybody, and everyone got a fair shake with her, no matter what.”
Lavender said Ghawi had moved to the Denver area from San Antonio last July to pursue her passion to become a sportscaster. She transferred from UT-San Antonio to Metropolitian State University of Denver for its broadcast journalism program and began to pursue professional opportunities in the Denver area. She worked as an intern in the sports department of Fox31 Denver and as a National Hockey League blogger for the sports website Busted Coverage.
Lavender said Ghawi had an astounding interest in sports.
“She just had this passion for it,” he said. “She truly loved sports, and that’s what she wanted to do her whole life, just to be involved in sports in some way — hopefully as a sportscaster as she had already started doing — but she was exploring every aspect of it. She wanted to be an announcer at a game, she wanted to be a broadcaster, she wanted to play.”
Ghawi narrowly escaped another shooting last month in Toronto. Lavender said the incident seriously affected her and caused her to live every day to its fullest, one of the many lessons he hopes people will take from the memories of Ghawi’s life.