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A year after movie shooting, Colorado seeks healing

By Thomas Peipert

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, July 20 2013 8:15 p.m. MDT

"I'm all too familiar to losing someone to gun violence," Fields said.

On Friday and Saturday, Fields and other volunteers read the names of more than 2,500 people killed in gun-related violence in the U.S. since the Newtown, Conn., massacre in December. The last volunteer to read names was Stephen Barton, who was wounded last year in the theater shooting.

Immediately after Barton was finished, about 40 volunteers held a moment of silence at 12:38 a.m. Saturday, the time the theater shooting began. The silence lasted 82 seconds to represent the 12 people killed and the 70 wounded.

The ceremony at Cherry Creek State Park in Aurora was sponsored by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, not the city of Aurora. A gun rights group, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, contended the event wrongly politicized a tragedy to promote gun control, so it staged a counter-rally nearby.

Hoping to capitalize on the anniversary, the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Action Fund began running a TV ad Saturday in eight cities featuring Barton. In it, Barton describes his confusion during the attack and says he wondered afterward, "Why it had to happen to us at all? And who'll be next?" The spot is running in Denver, Washington, D.C., and six cities in states represented by U.S. senators who in April voted against a failed bill to expand background checks for gun purchases: Las Vegas; Manchester, N.H.; Phoenix; Missoula and Billings, Mont.; and Little Rock, Ark.

After Saturday's Aurora ceremony, some residents had their photo taken with police Chief Dan Oates, whose department won praise for its response a year ago.

"It was a searing event for the police department as well as the whole community," Oates said. But he insisted many officers have recovered from the trauma and want to move on.

"I think we're at that point," Oates said.

Follow Dan Elliott at http://twitter.com/DanElliottAP . Associated Press photographer Brennan Linsley in Aurora and AP writer Alan Fram in Washington also contributed to this report.

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