Not 30 minutes into the premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises,” Colorado State football recruit Zack Golditch was hit in the neck by a stray bullet that came through the wall from theater 9.
Goldtich was lucky to survive the shooting rampage by alleged gunman James Holmes. But at first he did not even know he was shot.
“In this scene [of the movie], there is actually gunfire and stuff, and it sounded like some guy took Black Cats or little dynamite sticks and was tossing them up, and I think there was three pops,” Golditch to the Rocky Mountain Collegian. “Everyone looked up and was like ‘What are you doing, lighting fireworks in the theater? I get you’re trying to get into it but don’t do that, you know?’”
The sound was actually shots fired from the suspect, Holmes, in theater 9 next door.
“Next thing I know I hear a BANG! right beside my ear,” Golditch said. “My ears are ringing, I just kind of like fall into my friend’s lap and let out like a yell or something cause it was hurting a lot.”
He was attending the premiere with many of his friends and teammates, some of which were in theater 9 with the gunman. They all made it out safely.
When Golditch’s football coach Justin Hoffman got the flood of texts from his 10 to 15 players who were at the same premiere, his mind started running.
“It first starts off as, ‘Did this really happen?’ because it’s so early in the morning, and then ‘How did this happen?’ and ‘Thank God everyone is OK that I know of,’” Hoffman said.
With so many members of his team involved in the incident, Hoffman says it’s going to take the player’s strong bond to make it through.
“It’s a great family, and we’ve really tried to build that and instill that into our program, and it is going to take some time,” Hoffman said. “Just like any family there’s some ups and downs and there’s trials and tribulations, and we’ve got to make sure that we handle this appropriately.”
After Golditch fled the theater, he headed toward the mall parking lot where he bumped into a few men working construction. One of them had been an army doctor for more than 10 years.
“He got a towel and put it on my cut and kept me until the police officer came and took me over to the police car, and we got there and it was just crazy, people with just blood all over just yelling and screaming,” Golditch said.
He was taken to the hospital, where the reality of being struck with a bullet set in.
“I can’t believe I got shot, because after they put me through the CAT scan or whatever they were like, ‘Hey man, you got shot with a bullet,’ and I was like ‘What? I heard firecrackers! I thought my ear was blown off!’” Golditch said.
The bullet entered the left-front side of his neck and exited in pieces out the back. Nothing critical was hit and Golditch’s wound is expected to heal in the next three to four weeks.
“I try not to think about it because it’s a lot to deal with, you know, so I just try not to think about it and just appreciate it right now,” Golditch said.