Jamie Rohrs, of Aurora, Colorado, took his girlfriend Patricia Legarreta to a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises,” as you might expect many boyfriends did as a date. In fact, in a mildly kind gesture, he also brought both Legarreta and her two young children.
But then the shooting which has rocked the nation happened, and Mr. Rohrs demonstrated that, far from being kind, he actually might be exactly the wrong person for someone to date. According to reports, Mr. Rohrs not only didn’t try to protect his girlfriend or her children, but he actually rushed for the exit and got into his car, leaving them behind.
Fortunately for Leggareta, there was someone in the theater who was willing to try and help them – a 19-year-old college student named Jarell Brooks who escorted her and her children to the exit, where miraculously enough, the Leggaretas escaped the shooting virtually unharmed. Brooks, however, took a bullet to the leg.
Which brings us back to Mr. Rohrs. Despite his earlier show of cowardice, or perhaps because of it, Rohrs found his girlfriend and her kids at the hospital, and once there, he made the rather counterintuitive move of proposing marriage to Leggareta. And rather than slapping him for leaving her there, she apparently said, “Yes.”
Not that this was the story that initially came out regarding this unlikely coupling. Indeed, Rohrs’ apparent cowardice is barely mentioned in this interview with Piers Morgan explaining Rohrs’ “harrowing” experience escaping from the theater. Perhaps understandably, Morgan didn’t push him on the full details, though readers might find Rohrs’ narrative more than a little self-serving in retrospect:
However, when more information emerged, showing that Rohrs had actually managed to escape from the theater without either of his children, and that his girlfriend and both those children were actually saved by the heroic Jarell Brooks, questions started to be asked. And since then, several internet sites have begun publicly pleading with Leggareta not to marry the man who left her for dead. From one such site:
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.[...]
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”?
The fascination of the internet with what amounts to the private decision of two people would probably be considered creepy under other circumstances. It may well be here. But one has to wonder whether these armchair relationship counselors have a point. Granted, the man may have decided, in the aftermath of his poor decision, that life without Legaretta wasn’t worth living (since he was facing that prospect rather squarely), but in the absence of evidence that such a decision was made, people have room for suspicion about his worth.
Moreover, if you watch the interviews with Legarreta and her actual rescuer like the one below, and compare the rescuer’s behavior with Rohrs’, you may come away with a bad taste in your mouth:
What do you think? Should Patricia Legarreta give Jamie Rohrs a second chance?
Editor’s note: Frequent Beck guest host Joe Pags has written a provocative column on Rohrs — read it here.