On July 20, 2012, a gunman shot and killed 12 people in a packed movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. One of the victims was Alex Sullivan. He was celebrating his birthday at the movies that night — something he had done since he was a small child. Alex and a group of friends planned to see a midnight showing of the latest Batman film, just as he turned 27.

Five years later, his parents, Tom and Terry Sullivan, sat down at StoryCorps to remember him.

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After their son was killed, Tom and Terry Sullivan turned to a close network of friends and family for support. Tom’s longtime friend, Dan Van Minnen, was one of those people.

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Originally aired July 14, 2017, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Top photo: Terry Sullivan holds a photo of her son, Alex.
Middle photo: Tom and Terry Sullivan hold a photograph of their son, Alex.
Bottom photo: Tom and his friend Dan Van Minnen.