Bicyclist Shot At Theater To Continue Cross-Country Ride

Man Expected To Be Released

A Connecticut man traveling across the country by bike and shot in the neck during Friday's theater rampage said he's determined to finish his trip.

Stephen Barton and his travel partner, Ethan, have been riding their bicycles west from Virginia Beach since June 6. They've been planning the trip for nearly three years.

While pedaling toward San Francisco, they stopped in Aurora to meet up with one of Ethan's friends and decided to go to the midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises."

A little more than 20 minutes into the movie, a gunman opened fire from the front-right corner of the theater where they were sitting. Barton was hit and fell to the ground. He described the gunman as being deliberate in his actions.

"It was cold and calculated, definitely. It seemed very methodical -- just the rate at which he was firing and how he wasn't really moving position," said Barton. "He was just unloading into the crowd. It seemed to me to be very purposeful and methodical."

The gunman stayed perched in the corner, according to Barton.

"He was just shooting from the same position. And then once I got up to leave, I didn't look the other way," said Barton.

Barton found a police officer who drove him to the hospital.

Doctors told him he was shot in the neck, struck by shrapnel on his right arm and chest, and his face was cut up. Debris was removed during surgery, and he was put on a breathing tube.

Barton can barely move his left arm and hasn't yet asked the doctor if he'll be able to continue his trip.

"I'm probably afraid of the answer. My attitude now is to just to wait and see. See how I recover," said Barton.

Determination to keep going, though, is strong.

"In some sense, I'd feel like if we can't complete it, it's like the terrorists have really won."

7NEWS asked Barton what he'd say to the suspected gunman, 24-year-old James Holmes, if given the chance.

"I'm sorry that he had to cope with whatever was going on in his life by doing this," said Barton. "My attitude has been like these things are tragic and they sometimes happen, and I don't think I could say anything to him that would really make me feel better or make him feel worse. It's just that I hope he regrets it. I hope he's able to come to terms with what happened."

Barton maintains he'll move on from this tragic event.

"I have some scars, but I'll be fine," said Barton. "I really want to ride."

Barton could be released from the hospital as soon as Saturday.

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