Woman killed in Colo. escaped Eaton Centre shooting
Published Friday, July 20, 2012 1:55PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, July 20, 2012 4:56PM EDT
A woman who was killed during a mass shooting at a Colorado movie theatre early Friday morning narrowly escaped another mass shooting a month ago in Toronto.
Jessica Ghawi, also known as Jessica Redfield, was at the Eaton Centre food court minutes before a gunman opened fire on June 2. She later blogged about standing outside the mall and watching as victims were rolled away in stretchers.
On Friday, Ghawi became one of those victims when a man walked into a crowded screening of the latest Batman movie and opened fire.
According to a blog post by her brother Jordan, Ghawi was attending the movie with her friend Brent and was seated in the “middle section” of the theatre when shots rang out.
The aspiring sportscaster was shot in the leg and then was shot in the head as she tried to escape.
Authorities confirmed her death to her brother Friday afternoon.
“She was such an uplifting happy person. She never hurt anybody,” Ghawi’s boyfriend Jay Meloff told CTV News from outside his Markham home. “She would ask me how I knew I loved her and I would tell her that she made me want to be better every single day. She made everything better.”
Meloff, a minor league hockey player, told CTV News that he first met Ghawi when she interviewed him for a story on concussions about a year ago.
It was Meloff who she was visiting when she narrowly escaped the shots at the Eaton Centre.
“I was shown how fragile life was on Saturday,” she wrote on her blog June 5, three days after the Eaton Centre shooting. “I saw the terror on bystanders’ faces. I saw the victims of a senseless crime. I saw lives change,” she said. “I was reminded that we don’t know when or where our time on earth will end. For one man, it was in the middle of a busy food court on a Saturday evening.”
On her blog she said she had travelled to the Eaton Centre in search of sushi but instead grabbed a “greasy burger and poutine,” something she speculated may have saved her life.
“I found out after seeing a map of the scene that minutes later a man was standing in the same spot I just ate at and opened fire in the food court full of people,” she said. “Had I had sushi, I would’ve been in the same place where one of the victims was found.”
She left the Eaton Centre minutes before shots rang out. Ghawi, a San Antonio native living in Colorado, spoke fondly of the city while in Toronto, tweeting about attending Blue Jays and Toronto Marlies games and developing a Tim Horton’s habit.
On June 13 she tweeted “I’m not ok with this whole "leaving Toronto" thing tomorrow. Not one bit.”
Colleagues react to death
Ghawi was a freelance contributor to a sports and pop culture blog called Busted Coverage, a spokesperson for the site confirmed to CP24 Friday morning.
She also had worked as an intern for the You Can Play Project, the support group for LGBTQ athletes run by Toronto Maple Leaf General Manager Brian Burke’s son Patrick.
“All of my thoughts are with the Redfield family today,” Patrick Burke tweeted Friday. “Jessica was a joy to work with. Such a terrible, tragic loss.”
Ghawi seemed to be well versed in the world of hockey, waxing extensively about the subject on her Twitter account.
Her favorite topics seemed to be minor league hockey and the potential NHL lockout.
On Twitter, two well-known Vancouver Canucks fans popularly known as the Green Men tweeted that they knew Ghawi and attached a picture showing them planting a kiss on her cheek.
Matt Duchene, a centre for the Colorado Avalanche, also tweeted his sympathy.
“Thoughts and prayers going to @JessicaRedfield 's family,” he said. “Only spoke with her a few times but she was a sweet girl. Thinking about you guys.”