FOREST, OH (Toledo News Now) - A northwest Ohio teenager, who was injured in a Colorado movie theater shooting, is back home and recovering.
Gage Hankins, 18, was shot in the arm but is expected to heal within three to four weeks.
The family was in Denver for a national conference of a group called "Friends," an organization for young people who stutter.
Hankins, his 14-year-old brother, Jackson, and a group of friends went to the midnight premiere for the movie Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, CO. Hankins said it was during a shooting scene about 20 minutes into the movie that they heard hissing, saw smoke, and heard a loud bang. He said at first they thought it was special effects until he felt pressure in his right arm. He was hit with a bullet that actually traveled through the wall from the next room during another premiere of the movie.
At that point, Hankins and his friend ran out of the room to the lobby and learned what was happening. He said his friend came up beside him and was saying he was shot in the neck.
"As soon as I saw that I was like, ‘It's not just me,'" recalled Hankins.
Hankins remembers most of that day in detail.
"This is a dream. This isn't real. And it was just crazy to think that this could actually happen," said Hankins.
A friend who was quick to react got Hankins out of the theater and to a hospital.
"I didn't know how serious it was until I started to watch the news, and saw that there were 12 people killed," said Hankins.
It took hours before he met his family there.
"He was so strong and totally set the tone for the rest of us," said mother Sarah Hankins.
Doctors performed surgery on Hankins' right forearm to remove three pieces of shrapnel. Otherwise, Hankins would have risked losing his arm.
The Hankins family said they do not want the death penalty for shooter James Holmes. They think he needs help instead.
"I just want to pray for him so that he can help see what he did was wrong," explained Gage Hankins.
Hankins said he will return to movie theaters in the future. He will be getting a tattoo with the Batman symbol and a white ribbon with the words "Remember the fallen."
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