To many, John Larimer became a hero when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. To his girlfriend, he was the hero who saved her life early Friday morning.
Juleah Vojtsek of Algonquin told WBBM Newsradio that Larimer had sheltered her from bullets as 24-year-old James Holmes opened fire in a crowded suburban Denver movie theater.
“My boyfriend saved my life,” Vojtsek told the radio station.
She said Larimer held her head and protected her body with his. Vojtsek was unhurt.
Larimer, a 2003 Crystal Lake South High School graduate, was one of 12 killed during a midnight showing of the latest Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises.” Fifty-nine others were injured.
Vojtsek and Larimer had known each other for years, but had been dating for only several weeks, she told the radio station.
Tarah Thorne is a close friend of Vojtsek. She emailed the Northwest Herald late Friday offering a few clues as to what happened in those chaotic moments.
“My best friend from Algonquin was in the theater [Friday] morning during the massacre,” Thorne wrote. “The Navy sailor covered her up and took bullets for her. He is truly a hero.”
Larimer, a fourth generation seaman, was stationed in Aurora, Colo.
“It’s part of our family heritage,” his father, Scott Larimer, has said. “You expect to be in harm’s way in a combat zone, not in a theater in Denver.”
Flags in Crystal Lake on Sunday flew at half-staff, symbolizing a community wrapped in grief. But Larimer’s death was felt far beyond city and county limits. Condolences and promises to pray for the Larimer family were rolling in from all over the world.
A Facebook page set up in Larimer’s honor, “Remembering John Larimer,” had 516 likes early Sunday evening. The page had followers from Decatur, Ala., to Calgary, Canada.
On a Legacy.com obituary guest book set up in honor of the victims, condolences for Larimer stretched from Macon, Ga., to Melbourne, Australia.
“As an Army Veteran, I look at John Larimer as a hero. A man who made the decision to join the Armed forces to help protect our land,” New Jersey Legacy.com poster John Gianvito wrote. “God Bless and keep you, my prayers go out to your family.”