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Mourning, recovery continues after mass Colorado theater shooting

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Story highlights

  • 12 victims remain hospitalized, 4 are released, officials at 5 hospitals say
  • A suspect shot them, and killed 12, during a midnight showing of the latest Batman movie
  • Authorities say the alleged shooter rigged his apartment with explosives
  • Tenants of the complex are finally being allowed back in, while victims are mourned

Coloradans continued to put their lives back together Thursday after last week's deadly shooting rampage at a crowded movie theater -- some mourning, others returning to homes from which they had been barred for days.

More of the scores wounded in last Friday morning's shooting left hospitals in and around metropolitan Denver, though 12 remained.

The last two patients of six that were at Children's Hospital Colorado were released on Thursday, according to the hospital. The final person being treated at Denver Health Hospital also went home Thursday, said spokesman Tony Encinias.

One patient was discharged Thursday from the University of Colorado Hospital; four of the five who remain there are in critical condition, officials said. Five more shooting victims are being cared for at Aurora Medical Center, and two are in fair condition at Swedish Medical Center in Denver, the hospital said.

For others, Thursday was time to mourn. That included scores who packed New Hope Baptist Church in Denver to remember Micayla Medek, a 23-year-old woman who had been working toward her college degree.

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Speakers at the service reflected on Medek's love of the color pink and Hello Kitty, her vibrant and positive spirit, and her belief that life and people, in fact, are a "little weird."

"I will push myself forward, and I will carry her with me every step of the way," said Thomas Luong, her roommate and friend since high school.

Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan told Medek's parents, brother and sister that they had the support of thousands, if not millions. He said he had gotten messages from people on all seven continents, expressing their sympathy and solidarity.

"The world knows. The world will remember," said Hogan. "We are all part of your family today. We will stay part of your family."

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The man who authorities say opened fire in the theater during the midnight premiere of the Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises," killing Medek and 11 others, is in custody after being ordered held without bond.

James Holmes, who identified himself to police as "the Joker," made his first court appearance on Monday and will be formally charged July 30.

Two court orders, signed by Arapahoe County District Judge William Sylvester, were posted on a court website Thursday noting restrictions on information the University of Colorado could release about Holmes. The 24-year-old had recently dropped out of a Ph.D program in neuroscience out of the school's campus in Aurora.

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The orders, in addition to a previous one issued Wednesday aimed at "limiting pre-trial publicity" at the defendant's request, endeavor to restrict the amount of publicly available information in order to assure "the fairness of a trial."

Meanwhile, Holmes' former neighbors are being allowed back home for the first time since the shooting, Sgt. Cassidee Carlson of the Aurora Police Department said Wednesday evening.

The tenants of the apartment building where Holmes had lived were rousted out of their apartments by police in the early hours of Friday shortly after the shooting.

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Holmes had booby-trapped his sparsely furnished third-floor, one-bedroom unit apartment with more than 30 homemade grenades and 10 gallons of gasoline, a law enforcement official who viewed video showing the apartment's interior has told CNN.

The sophisticated setup was meant to harm, or possibly kill, anyone who entered -- and tested the skills of bomb squad members charged with clearing it, the official said.

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Authorities on Monday also discovered a package in a mailroom at the University of Colorado -- Anschutz Medical Campus apparently sent by Holmes, a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation said Wednesday.

CBS News reported that the package was addressed to a psychologist at the university, which Holmes had attended.

"Sources say the letter was from a pent-up Holmes to one of his professors," the news organization reported. "In it, he talked about shooting people and even included crude drawings of a gunman and his victims."

Some of his victims, both in and out of hospitals, faced a difficult recovery process and the prospect of daunting medical bills.

How to help victims

They include Caleb Medley, who lost an eye and suffered brain damage. His wife gave birth to their son Hugo Jackson Medley on Tuesday morning, and the University of Colorado Hospital said both baby and mother are doing well.

Medley, who had been doing standup comedy routines in Denver and was working full-time at Target, had no health insurance, his brother Seth said.

"The surgeon came and talked to us and said he'd be in ICU at least a week," said Medley's friend, Michael West, who set up a website to help take care of medical bills and the needs of Medley's family. By Thursday evening, it had raised more than $313,000.

Chloe Anderson has set up a similar fund for her sister, Petra Anderson, an aspiring musician who was also shot in the head. In a video posted Sunday asking for funds, Chloe Anderson notes that her mother was preparing to undergo cancer treatment later this month when Friday's shooting occurred.

"My sister's hospital bills on top of that are making the financial reality look pretty daunting," she says. "So that's why we are reaching out to you -- the people who have already asked us what they can do to help."

By Wednesday evening, that fund had received more than $184,000 with a goal of $250,000.

Money is also streaming in to GivingFirst.org, which is accepting donations for the shooting victims and their relatives. By Tuesday, the amount had reached almost $2 million, Gov. John Hickenlooper said.

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"The needs will be great and we look forward to seeing the fund grow exponentially," he said. "This money will help those impacted by this tragedy begin to recover and rebuild their lives."

Hickenlooper said donors include Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, co-producers of "The Dark Knight Rises." Sources at Warner Bros. studios told CNN the company made a "substantial" donation. Warner Bros., a subsidiary of CNN's parent company Time Warner, would not divulge how much money it was giving out of respect for the victims, the sources said.

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Several hospitals were also making efforts to minimize the financial burden. Children's Hospital Colorado said in a statement it will use its charity program and donations to cover medical expenses for victims who don't have insurance, as well as waive co-pays and deductible-related expenses for those with insurance.

HealthOne, the health care system that includes the Medical Center of Aurora and Swedish Medical Center, pledged to "eliminate personal financial responsibility for hospital charges as appropriate."

And Denver Health said it will evaluate each patient "on a case-by-case basis" and discount bills by 70% for those unable to pay.

Focusing on the victims, not the shooter