Aunt: Sailor was close with his family

John Larimer, a Crystal Lake native and Petty Officer 3rd Class, was one of 12 people killed in the massacre at a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colo.
John Larimer, a Crystal Lake native and Petty Officer 3rd Class, was one of 12 people killed in the massacre at a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colo.

CRYSTAL LAKE – Even though he was many miles away, John Larimer always stayed close to his family.

As family members continued to ask for privacy, Larimer’s aunt, Karen Lavin, released a statement to the Northwest Herald to share her memories of her nephew.

Larimer, 27, was the youngest of five children.

“John’s core values were rock solid, due to his two loving, dedicated parents, and his four older siblings. They are a very close family,” Lavin said. “Even when circumstances moved them hundreds of miles away from each other, they were in frequent contact by texting, email and the old-fashioned phone call.”

Larimer was one of 12 people killed in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater when police say 24-year-old James Holmes started shooting during a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Larimer was shot as he protected his girlfriend, Juleah Vojtsek of Algonquin.

“While we are overwhelmed by pain by this terrible loss, we are mindful of the other 11 families mourning the loss of another promising, wonderful young person, and the dozens of other families at the bedside of their injured loved one, hoping, praying they recover fully,” Lavin said. “None of us will ever fully recover from such a terrible loss, the senseless, brutal actions that in just seconds took so many, so much away from us.”

In addition to being active in high school theater, Larimer was a member of Crystal Lake South’s marching band and the school’s academic team. Lavin said he was a caring friend and brother who always made time to talk to someone who needed a shoulder to cry on.

Lavin said Larimer enjoyed his work in the Navy, and she was relieved that he went into Naval Intelligence and was stationed at Buckley Air Force Base in Colorado, far from a battlefield.

Larimer was a cryptologic technician whose work was classified, Lavin said.

“Talking to him about his job was like playing 20 questions,” Lavin wrote. “Naturally, we were curious about his work. So we would ask questions and John would always reply with an amusing non-answer. Despite our efforts, we still have no idea just what it was he was doing for the Navy. He took ‘classified’ very seriously, but always deflected our questions in good humor.”

Larimer’s first job was at a movie theater, and he was a “popcorn junkie.” Midnight showings were a part of Larimer’s life.

“He was first in line at the midnight showings of Harry Potter, Spider-Man and other superhero movies,” Lavin said.

Lavin said Larimer was an avid reader and always read the book before a movie came out.

Larimer was on leave in June and spent time with his family in a lake house in Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. The week included time with nieces and nephews who ranged from 8 months to 6 years old.

“He was always able to get in touch with his ‘inner kid’ and get on the floor to play with the little ones,” Lavin wrote.

Larimer also was lauded Monday by Gov. Pat Quinn for his heroism during the shooting.

“It’s important that we not forget, ever, the special life of John Larimer,” Quinn said. “We thank God for giving him to us, and we ask God to give him eternal rest.”

Quinn spoke at a bill-signing event where he also reiterated his support for an assault weapons ban in Illinois. He said he favors a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines such as the one allegedly used in the Colorado shootings.

The governor said he opposes making it legal for gun owners to carry concealed firearms. Illinois is the only state without a concealed carry law.

• The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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