INTERVIEW: ‘I do forgive him,’ says teen with knee blown apart by Aurora theater shooter
AURORA, Colorado, 13 August, 12 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In the midst of the darkness and chaos of the Aurora theatre shooting last month, one eighteen-year-old woman lay on the ground, her knee completely shattered by a stray bullet from the gun of the shooting’s sole suspect, James Holmes. While bullets continued to fall around her, Bonnie Kate Pourciau prayed desperately for her life to be spared. Ultimately the young woman’s prayer was heard, and she escaped with her life. However, she has since undergone numerous reconstructive surgeries that have left her bedridden, in excruciating pain.
But despite the hell that Bonnie Kate has been through, she told LifeSiteNews.com in an telephone interview last week that she has made the choice to forgive the man that the world has condemned as a heartless, psychopathic monster, and wishes simply that she could embrace him, and tell him that hope and forgiveness are still available to him.
“When I was shot, in the midst of all the chaos, I didn’t really think of the shooter as a person, as someone who was trying to kill me,” said Bonnie Kate from her hospital bed last week. “But later, as I saw him on TV, I just wanted to cry. I felt so much for this man who is so broken, who doesn’t know the hope that we Christians have, who doesn’t understand the mercy of God, and who doesn’t know Jesus.”
To that “broken” man, Bonnie Kate says: “Yeah, I do forgive him. I do. I am in a lot of pain, and it’s hard, but I do forgive him.”
Bonnie Kate told LifeSiteNews that on the night of the shooting, she and her friend Elizabeth Sumrall were returning home to Baton Rouge, Louisiana from a 10-day vacation in Seattle, Washington, when they stopped at a hotel in Aurora. The lady at the front desk suggested that they go see “The Dark Knight Rises” in the theater close by.
“I’m not a huge Batman fan, but I thought, oh, it will be fun,” she recounted.
About 15 or 20 minutes into the film, Bonnie Kate remembers “something like a missile flying across the screen and exploding on the side of the screen.”
“I first I thought it was someone messing around, but I didn’t really know what it was. Then a guy started shooting a whole bunch. People were screaming. It was dark and evil.”
Police say that the alleged gunman, James Holmes, entered the theater wearing tactical body armor, a gas mask, and wielding three firearms. He opened fire on the crowd, injuring dozens and killing 13, including one woman’s unborn child.
During the hail of bullets, Bonnie Kate remembers pulling her friend Elizabeth down to the ground and crouching behind the theater chairs.
“At that point I was just praying inside my head: ‘Father, please protect us, please keep us safe. I don’t know what’s going on, but please keep us safe if that be your will. Please preserve our lives.’”
Suddenly the young woman felt what she described as a “big smack” on her leg. “I didn’t know how bad it was and hoped that, whatever it was, had just grazed my skin.”
After getting hit, Bonnie Kate grabbed for Elizabeth and began praying out loud, saying “Father, please, come to the rescue. Preserve our lives. Please keep us safe.”
Bonnie Kate remembers that even though she had been shot, she was not scared.
“I don’t know how to explain it, but God filled me with a peace. I felt him so near, and he just sort of wrapped us up. And even though I was in a lot of pain in the midst of that darkness, chaos, and presence of evil, I felt that God was near. He filled me with peace, and I wasn’t afraid.”
At one point Elizabeth, not knowing of Bonnie Kate’s injury, shouted out: “Run! We’ve got to get out of here.”
“I got up, tried to run, and even managed to take a few steps. But my knee was busted completely — into all kinds of pieces — just mush inside there. My knee was popped all out and didn’t seem like a part of my body anymore, but something flailing to the side.”
The girls tried to head for the building’s exit. Bonnie Kate remembers falling down and trying to get up again, but only to fall down once again. A stranger suddenly offered her support and helped her stagger out of the theater. The wounded woman was laid on the concrete outside. Policemen wrapped her leg, put her in a cruiser, and rushed her to the ER, where she waited more than three hours before receiving any pain medication.
“Even in the middle of pain that was so violent that it made my whole body shake, I felt God there, holding me, comforting me,” she said.
Bonnie Kate’s first surgery was seven hours long. When she got out of surgery, her parents, Trace and Kathleen, having flown in on an emergency flight, were there to greet her. They rejoiced that their daughter had survived and prayed that she would be able to “accept with joy” the trials that lay before her.
Speaking from her hospital bed, Bonnie Kate says that the various reconstructive surgeries on her knee have left her in more pain than the initial shooting.
“It has been very hard, but God has been so good to give me brothers and sisters, and a mommy and a daddy and friends who love me and who are here for me, who are praying for me, and who are supportive of me. I am just super grateful.”
The young woman is receiving physical therapy so that she might one day regain the use of her leg. Any leg movement is “excruciatingly painful” she says. Doctors have told her that she will not be able to put weight on the leg for at least three months.
Bonnie Kate says that the shooting has allowed her to “come to understand a level of suffering that I did not understand before.” But it is a suffering that has given her a heart to understand the pain and suffering in other people’s lives. As she lies in her hospital bed, thinking about all the people who lost family members, she prays that she will not be made bitter or jaded by the shootings and that she will not harbor hatred for the man who so brutally ended so many lives, and harmed others.
“It just breaks my heart to see how the darkness and the woundedness just took over this man. He just looks so hollow, empty, and filled with darkness. My heart breaks for him and has compassion for him.”
“When I really think about this matter, I wish I could tell him — and I wish that he could understand and know and feel — that there is forgiveness. I wish he could repent and see how broken he is, so that he could see what he has done and how he has hurt these people.”
Bonnie Kate says that her choice to forgive the gunman is not always easy to live by.
“Sometimes I will get angry when I am hurting and think, ‘Oh! Why did he do that?’ But then I think about where he is at, and my heart breaks for him and I just wish I could hug him and even tell him that there is forgiveness. I wish he could understand his sin and understand what he has done, but not so that he would dwell on it, but so that he would be able to turn and understand that there is forgiveness from God who sent his son Jesus to die for evil broken people like him.”
“When people say to me ‘Oh, Bonnie Kate, you’re so strong and amazing’, I say ‘I am not strong and amazing but I have a strong and amazing God whose grace I rely upon.’”
The young woman says that her relationship with God is what makes all the difference.
“I do, I do forgive him. I do. That’s God’s mercy right there. Because I know that on my own strength, Bonnie Kate would just hate him. Yeah, I do forgive him. I do. I am in a lot of pain, and it’s hard, but I do forgive him.”