Victim of Colorado Theater Shooter James Holmes Says He Forgives His Attacker, Hopes to Someday Talk to Him about Jesus

( [email protected] ) Apr 24, 2015 03:15 PM EDT
Peter Farrill
(Photo : AP Photo)
Aurora movie theater shooting survivor Pierce O’Farrill speaks while at the Denver Rescue Mission's vehicle donation program, which he runs, in Denver, CO.

Pierce O'Farrill, who was severely wounded nearly three years ago when James Holmes opened fire at a packed Colorado movie theater, has said he forgives his attacker and hopes to someday talk to him about Jesus.

In 2012, Holmes, a 24 year old former neuroscience graduate student, killed 12 people and wounded 70 others at a midnight screening of the Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises." He has since pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, but faces a possible death sentence.

Just ahead of Holmes' trial, which is set to begin Monday, O'Farrill revealed in an interview with the St. Louis Post Dispatch that despite being severely injured, he has since found closure through faith and forgiveness.

O'Farrill recalled how, the morning after the shooting, he flipped through TV channels from a hospital bed. When he saw a photo of Holmes, he remembered moments in his own teens and early 20s when he had been depressed and suicidal. "I felt forgiveness," he said.

After several years of counseling, O'Farrill eventually overcame the feelings of hatred and of guilt at surviving when others died.

"I never have to ask the question, 'Why did this happen to me?'" he said, saying he has seen how his story has inspired others. "I love Jesus and I get to share Christ with a lot of people and share forgiveness."

Today, Farrill is happily married and runs the Denver Rescue Mission's vehicle donation program. He says that whatever the outcome of Holmes' trial may be, he plans to visit his attacker to share the Gospel with him.

"I want to tell him about Jesus," O'Farrill said.

Meanwhile, Holmes' mother, Arlene, has said she is praying for her son's victims and the millions of people who, like him, are engulfed in mental illness.

"The first time I prayed for them by name and by wound, I was shaking, overcome," Arlene Holmes writes in her new book, "When the Focus Shifts: The Prayer Book of Arlene Holmes."

"Kept praying; made it through the list. Please, victims, please, feel my prayers. I pray for you by name."

Holmes says she is also praying her son does not receive the death penalty.

"I do not know what you have been through in life," she writes, addressing the prosecution. "I do not know why you want to pursue execution of a mentally ill man. But I pray for you, so that you will find peace in your life. I pray you will change your mind. Please stop this quest for death so you may focus on those who are alive."

However, prosecutors since have argued that only Holmes' death can bring justice for the victims and their loved ones.

"In this case, for James Egan Holmes, justice is death," District Attorney George Brauchler said in April 2013.

According to USA Today, Holmes' trial is expected to last as long as four months, as prosecutors call potentially hundreds of witnesses from police officers to first responders in their efforts to prove the more than 150 charges Holmes faces. The charges include one count of murder with deliberation and one count of murder with extreme indifference for each person killed.