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Survivors From Previous Mass Shootings Ready To Help Victims' Families In Boulder, Colorado

Sandy Phillips, whose daughter Jessica Redfield Ghawi was one of 12 killed in the mass theater shooting in Aurora in 2012, told Oxygen.com that she is organizing resources and support in the wake of the deadly attack at a Boulder, Colorado grocery store.

By Gina Tron
Boulder Co G

Survivors and relatives from other mass shootings are preparing to assist and support victims’ families and survivors of Monday’s deadly attack at a Colorado grocery store.

A gunman armed with an AR-15 assault rifle entered a crowded King Soopers supermarket in Boulder on Tuesday afternoon and began shooting, resulting in shoppers and workers alike both freezing and fleeing for their lives. Ten people were killed, including Boulder police officer Eric Talley, who was the first officer to arrive on the scene.

A 21-year-old suspect was escorted out of the store by police; blood was visible dripping down his right leg.

As officials worked to notify the next of kin for the victims, survivors from previous mass shootings began preparing to help those affected by the massacre.

Sandy Phillips, whose daughter Jessica Redfield Ghawi was one of 12 killed in the 2012 movie theater shooting in nearby Aurora, Colorado, told Oxygen.com on Tuesday morning that she is currently organizing resources and support to help. She and her husband Lonnie Phillips run Survivors Empowered, an organization of mass shooting survivors that provide support and referrals for services to other survivors of violence.

“After a mass casualty event, local governments and law enforcement are overwhelmed,” their site states. “Victims are in total shock or fighting for their lives. No one understands what the victims need better than those of us who have gone through it.”

Phillips told Oxygen.com that Survivors Empowered’s Rapid Response Team is made up of "veteran survivors" from previous mass shootings, including ones that have occurred in state, including the Aurora attack, the 1999 Columbine High School shooting and the 2019 shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch. Additionally, at least one survivor from the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Connecticut is also part of that team.

Phillips said she's contacting survivors from Boulder and organizing support for them.

"We already have trauma therapists for them, we already have people on the ground that can reach out to them and console them as best as possible but also let them know what's ahead,” she told CNN.

She said that it can be helpful for people affected by a mass shooting to be in touch with someone who knows what it feels like.

"Even for myself, I mean we've been doing this for almost nine years now and here we are going through the same pain because we know what they're going through," she told CNN, adding that she herself feels like she relives the trauma of losing her daughter every time there's a new mass shooting. "It is never, ever an easy process."

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