AJ Billapando's brother Bryson and his wife Tony were one of countless fans who had waited for months to see the much-anticipated Batman blockbuster The Dark Knight Rises.
AJ Billapando's brother Bryson and his wife Tony were one of countless fans who had waited for months to see the much-anticipated Batman blockbuster – “The Dark Knight Rises.”
"They were really excited, my brother is a big movie buff he goes to all the movies,” Billapando said.
They were joined by four friends in theater number nine in Aurora, Colorado when the unthinkable happened.
“My mom said your brother and Tony were in the movie theater and they've been hit,” Billapando said. “My heart dropped.”
Billapando’s brother, Bryson, survived. His expecting wife, Tony, was struck in the mouth but is doing OK. Sadly, not all of their mutual friends were so lucky.
"I started crying, I was angry, I was sad, it’s a feeling you can't describe,” he said.
He said Bryson was sitting next to his good friend Alex Sullivan who was celebrating his 27th birthday at the midnight showing.
Following the massacre, Billapando said Sullivan's father showed up at the theater frantically asking for help finding his son. One tweet by @kurtisalee read, “Alex Sullivan-27. His dad can't get hold of him. Has anyone seen him?”
Alex was one of 12 that died after police say 24-year-old James Holmes opened fire into the audience, shooting 70 people.
Billapando’s two other friends are listed in critical condition. He is now asking others to donate blood and to help the families whose lives were forever changed and has set up a fundraiser.
"It's the Billapando fundraiser - that's our last name - it's basically to help pay for medical bill hopeful - for everyone,” he said.
Billapando knows that when he flies into Colorado Saturday night, he'll do one thing first.
"Give my brother and sister-in-law a hug,” he said.
To donate to the Billapando Fundraiser, click here.