For one survivor, the tragedy of the Aurora shooting that left 12 dead and 70 injured that night turned into something unexpectedly beautiful.
A woman who lost her fiancé that night ended up falling in love with and marrying one of the officers who responded to the scene after the two shared an unbreakable bond.
Lasamoa Lanier, then known as Lasamoa Cross, was attending the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises with her fiancé at the time — 18-year-old AJ Boik.
The couple sat near the front of the theater when the shooting began. Lasamoa remembers the gunman entering through the emergency exit shortly after the opening scene.
“I could see this black silhouette of a guy standing there, and I could see a gun strapped,” she said.
Suddenly a canister flies several rows behind her and AJ. She hears a hissing noise, and people start screaming.
“I turned around and looked, and there were people just jumping out of the rows to get out of the theatre. It was insane,” Lasamoa described.
AJ grabbed her hand and told her they needed to leave, but he was shot twice right then and fell backward.
“I think that is what is hard, too. I didn’t even get to say bye, you know,” Lasamoa recalled.
Three years later, during the trial, Lasamoa saw how police officers testifying felt the same pain and trauma she did.
She then decided to write letters to several Aurora police officers and thank them. It was through her writing that she met Officer Cody Lanier, who happened to be an SRO at her former high school.
Lasamoa said she saw him the night of the shooting helping families find loved ones and asked him to help her find her boyfriend.
“I had this person in front of me, approaching me, ‘where is my boyfriend?’” Cody recalled. Cody said he felt like he failed the families that day, but Lasamoa’s letter changed that.
“I have always thought of you as a headstrong, determined and courageous person for having the amount of strive to serve and protect Gateway, Aurora and your family. Every single day. And that alone has changed my life altogether,” Lasamoa wrote in her letter.
“I don’t think I made it through three sentences in that thing, and I’m tearing up,” Cody said.
Years later, the two met at a Chipotle to talk, and from there, quickly formed a bond and began dating.
The couple eventually married nine years later in Colorado in October 2021.
“Some tragic beginnings have very beautiful outcomes,” Lasamoa wrote on her wedding page. The website’s “our story” page is titled “The most unconventional love story ever told.”
The story went on to say that no matter how many people tried to connect with her and after countless dates, she still felt alone.
It wasn’t until meeting someone who understood her pain that she could move on and find love.
Although it took her three separate attempts to finally meet Cody in person, the meeting changed both of their lives forever.
“He knew what a huge loss that early in life felt like, and from there, I felt he understood me differently than anyone else,” she wrote.
Cody said their meeting also helped him heal from the tragedy.
“In a way, La kind of filled this gap,” Cody said. “Beyond that, it was just this connection. Every day since, she turned into my best friend. Beauty from ashes, man. I don’t know what I would do without her.”