(inset) of Cary was in a midnight showing of "Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colo. when a gunman entered the theater and began shooting, killing 12 and injuring more than 50. (LinkedIn, AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)
While the former Cary man, 27-year-old Steve Ostergaard
, escaped uninjured, a Crystal Lake native who also was in the theater is missing.
As the Larimers wait for news, the Ostergaard family is relieved that Steven Ostergaard
, 27, who now lives in Lake Bluff, was chaperoning 11 14- to 21-year-olds to the movie that night.
and the group settled into their seats in Theater 8 and never imagined that next door, a gas-masked gunman soon would open fire on other moviegoers.
Ostergaard, a special education teacher in Waukegan, is in Colorado for a national conference "Friends: Association of Young People Who Stutter."
As a fight scene danced on the movie screen in front of him, Ostergaard saw smoke and thought an unruly movie patron had set off fireworks.
Things got serious when a piece of shrapnel struck an 18-year-old boy in his
rushed the teen to the lobby to get medical attention, but still didn't realize the magnitude of what was happening around him.
"I thought, man, this is really good special effects," Ostergaard
said in a phone interview from Aurora, Colo. "At first I thought the smoke was special effects, then I heard a banging and thought someone was throwing fireworks."
It wasn't fireworks.
Rounds of bullets were being fired, and when the shooter was done, 12 people were dead.
and the teen were the first out of Theater 8.
In the lobby, Ostergaard
heard gunshots and realized that it was time to get his
group as far away as possible.
ushered the children to the car, the lobby area of the theater began filling with smoke, and he
saw bloodied moviegoers running out of the theater doors.
"It was complete pandemonium," he
"People were crying, people were bloody.
Police were in complete defense mode, they had shotguns in hand.
I think that really scared the kids."
was unsure of where the shrapnel came from that struck the teen in his
couldn't say whether it was from stray bullets in the neighboring movie theater or if it was from what he
described as an "explosion" in a nearby stairwell.
The injured teen was recovering at a nearby hospital, where he
had surgery to remove the shrapnel from his
The group returned to the hotel, where Ostergaard
immediately called each child's parents, then watched Twitter
for constant updates as the grisly scene unfolded.
Ostergaard remained calm throughout his phone interview with the Northwest Herald.
"I never really felt scared," he