Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Early Friday morning, a man wearing a gas mask entered the Century 16 Theater in Aurora, Colorado armed with a an assault rifle and two handguns and killed 12 people and injured 58.
News19's Nate Stewart is in Colorado and has found out that one of the survivors of the shooting is from right here in Columbia. Kevin Jones of Shandon moved to Aurora last year. He says he is going to have a hard time forgetting what he saw.
"I remember for a moment, looking through that smoke, and all I could see was little flashes, you could tell was just something firing," Jones says.
The USC grad and Carolina native says he was sitting 15 rows up on the left side of the Colorado Theater as the shooter enters near the bottom exit.
"Basically as soon as he kicked open the door all I heard was a hissing sound."
It was a canister, leaking smoke or some kind of chemical, and it landed two rows in front of Jones.
"Right after that all you heard was pop-pop-pop."
The 2001 Cardinal Newman High School graduate admits to thinking it was fireworks, a prank--until he heard the screams.
"So I began to crawl army style on my elbows to get to an exit that I saw that had been swung open that was right near the projector at the back top of where the stadium seating ends."
Jones fought with dozens to escape through the narrow exit; some people, he says, were trampled.
"I actually saw a girl who I was running beside when we finally evacuated covered in blood. None of it was her own. She was screaming, 'my boyfriend, my boyfriend.'"
Once outside Jones says while you could still hear gunshots, he was thankful to still be alive.
"There is nothing that I have ever experienced that can come close to what I experienced last night."
Jones considers himself and his roommate made it out with only minor cuts and bruises. He says his heart goes out to the victims' families of those who did not make it out, and has a message for those back home in Carolina.
"If there is anything you can take away from this, is to focus on life. Every day is precious."
Jones says he hopes to make it to many of victims' memorial services.