Families mourn loss in Aurora, Colo. theater shooting; those wounded struggle to recover

AURORA, Okla. (CNN) -- Still grappling with the inexplicable tragedy at a Colorado movie theater last week, families of the massacre victims must now embark on the mournful task of laying their loved ones to rest.

On Wednesday, a memorial service will take place for 51-year-old Gordon Cowden, who took his two teenage children to see the midnight premiere of the new Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises." Cowden's children survived the shooting at the Aurora theater.

Nine miles away, visitation will take place for Micayla Medek, a 23-year-old woman who was working toward her college degree.

Those who were wounded still face the specter of permanent injury and long recovery periods.

One woman, who was shot in the knee, endured her third surgery Monday and has plans to travel to Baton Rouge Wednesday for further reconstructive operations.

The mother of Bonnie Kate Pourciau said her daughter was struck by a bullet after pulling a friend to the floor in an effort to escape the hail of gunfire.

"Mom, I've been shot," recalled Kathleen Pourciau of her daughter's phone call, made just before 2 a.m. Friday.

Meanwhile, actor Christian Bale, star of "The Dark Knight Rises," surprised residents in Aurora Tuesday when he visited a memorial for the victims and met with survivors of the shooting spree, CNN affiliate KDVR reported.

One of the victims, Carey Rottman, posted a picture of Bale visiting him in his hospital room on Facebook.

"Wow!!! Thank you so much for the visit Christian!! What a great guy! Still in shock!" Rottman wrote, according to KDVR.

Amid the tragedy, other survivors also had reasons to celebrate.

Petra Anderson suffered four shotgun wounds, including one in her head. But thanks in part to a brain abnormality, she survived, her pastor said.

"The doctor explains that Petra's brain has had from birth a small 'defect' in it. It is a tiny channel of fluid running through her skull, like a tiny vein through marble, or a small hole in an oak board, winding from front to rear," Brad Strait of Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church in Englewood, Colorado, wrote on his blog.

"Like a marble through a small tube, the defect channels the bullet from Petra's nose through her brain. It turns slightly several times, and comes to rest at the rear of her brain. And in the process, the bullet misses all the vital areas of the brain. In many ways, it almost misses the brain itself," he said.

Anderson has started physical and speech therapy and is able to walk, talk and laugh, said Andrew Roblyer, a family friend.

Shooting victim Caleb Medley's wife, Katie, gave birth to their son, Hugo Jackson Medley, Tuesday morning. Both the mother and baby were doing well, the University of Colorado Hospital said.

But Caleb Medley, who was shot in the head, lost an eye and suffered brain damage.

"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.

"I knew it was going to rack up in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions," West said of his friend's medical expenses.

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.

Money is also streaming into 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.

"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.

Meanwhile, the suspect in last week's shooting rampage is scheduled to be formally charged July 30.

James E. Holmes, 24, made his first court appearance Monday. Looking dazed at times, the man who identified himself to police as "the Joker" gave little indication that he was paying attention in court. He will continue to be held without bond.

Holmes had booby-trapped his Aurora 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 at the sparsely furnished third-floor, one-bedroom apartment was meant to harm, or possibly kill, anyone who entered -- and tested the skills of bomb squad members charged with clearing it.

"Imagine that fireball ... you would have an explosion that would knock down the wall of (nearby) apartments," the official said Monday. "That flame

would have consumed the entire third floor."

The Holmes family issued a statement Friday saying, "Our hearts go out to those who were involved in this tragedy and to the families and friends of those involved." It added, "We are still trying to process this information."

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