It is usually not my style to meddle in other people’s relationships, but I’ve got to join the chorus of those advising — in internet comment sections, duh — Patricia Lagarreta not to marry Jamie Rohrs. Legarreta, Rohrs, and their two kids were among those at the midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colorado last week (don’t even get me started on bringing kids to a late-night showing of an ultra-violent movie); when James Holmes entered the theater, set off tear gas bombs and began shooting people in the crowd, Rohrs and Legarreta became separated. They were later reunited at the hospital, where Rohrs dropped to one knee and asked Legarreta to marry him. Normally I would be like, “Aww, after facing death, they decided to make the most of life!” but no. See, after Rohrs was separated from Legarreta, her four-year-old daughter, and their four-month-old son, he managed to get out the theater. And then he went to his car. And then he drove off. Legarreta and her kids, meanwhile, barely escaped harm thanks to the heroic actions of a total stranger, Jarell Brooks, 19, who shielded her and took a bullet in the leg in the process. Legarretta’s leg was hit with schrapnel but she and the children were otherwise unharmed. No thanks to Rohrs, mind you.
Look, it’s not that I expect a dude, simply by virtue of being a man, to play hero in what is an insane situation. The theater was smoky, there was chaos, everyone is just trying to get out alive. I imagine the details of what exactly happened in that theater are blurry to many who were there; Rohrs apparently initially had his infant son in his arms but set him down in one of the rows to keep him shielded from bullets flying overhead. Then, somehow, he got separated from the baby, which I take to mean Rohr left him because a baby who can’t walk can’t do the leaving. Hell, maybe Rohrs thought that tucking his son under a seat was his best chance for survival. Who knows what the logic is in this situation, shit is illogical. People went to see a goddamn superhero movie and ended up fighting for their lives.
But what in the hell was Rohrs thinking when he left the theater and got in his car and drove off?! I cannot comprehend this. He knew his infant son was in there, not to mention his girlfriend and her young daughter. How is he going to help them from behind the wheel of his car, speeding in the other direction? The thing is, I suspect he wasn’t thinking and was operating under some sense of self-preservation. Meanwhile, Legarretta was shielding her four-year-old daughter from gunfire and finding her infant son on the floor of the theater so she could get him out safely too. Legerratta was operating under her own instinct — to protect her children — and while Rohrs’ confusion and actions can certainly be explained by the utter insanity of the situation, it stands in stark contrast to her actions and that, I’m afraid, is just something I imagine these two can’t get over just like that. I mean, can you imagine their next fight? “Babe, stop nagging me to do the dishes!” “Do I need to remind you about the time you left me and the kids in a theater with a mad man?” Or what about their vows? “In sickness and in health, but not when our lives are on the line”?
It’s not that Rohrs is a bad guy. That is not what I’m arguing. But this situation did illuminate something about his instincts that both he and his fiancee should take a hard look at before they walk down the aisle. Maybe they will be able to get through this awful situation together and she won’t hold this against him and he won’t hold it against himself. But that, let’s face it, is going to take some time. A proposal of marriage born out of guilt is not going to do it.