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Woman who died in Colo. movie rampage narrowly escaped being shot last month

Jordan Ghawi, whose sister, Jessica, was killed in the shooting at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater recounts how he learned of his sister's death through a phone call from his mother at 2 a.m. and describes her as "tenacious" and "vivacious."

A woman who died in the movie theater shooting in Denver escaped a shooting at a mall in Toronto last month, saying an “odd feeling” compelled her to leave the shopping center.

Jessica Ghawi, 24, had recently moved from San Antonio to Denver, kens5.com reported. An aspiring sportscaster, she had gone to see the movie “Batman: The Dark Knight Rises,” with a friend from Texas who was injured in the shooting, the television station reported.

Ghawi, who wrote under the name Jessica Redfield, said on her blog that she was visiting Toronto in June and stopped by a popular shopping mall to get something to eat when she got an “odd feeling” in her chest.

“This empty, almost sickening feeling won’t go away. I noticed this feeling when I was in the Eaton Center in Toronto just seconds before someone opened fire in the food court,” she wrote in her blog. “An odd feeling which led me to go outside and unknowingly out of harm‘s way. It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around how a weird feeling saved me from being in the middle of a deadly shooting.”

“My receipt shows my purchase was made at 6:20 pm. After that purchase I said I felt funny. It wasn’t the kind of funny you feel after spending money you know you shouldn’t have spent. It was almost a panicky feeling that left my chest feeling like something was missing. A feeling that was overwhelming enough to lead me to head outside in the rain to get fresh air instead of continuing back into the food court to go shopping at SportChek. The gunshots rung out at 6:23. Had I not gone outside, I would’ve been in the midst of gunfire.”

Two men were killed in that shooting. Ghawi described seeing emergency responders arrive to the scene. 

“I feel like I am overreacting about what I experienced. But I can’t help but be thankful for whatever caused me to make the choices that I made that day. My mind keeps replaying what I saw over in my head. I hope the victims make a full recovery. I wish I could shake this odd feeling from my chest. The feeling that’s reminding me how blessed I am. The same feeling that made me leave the Eaton Center. The feeling that may have potentially saved my life.”

NBC News confirmed Friday from Ghawi's family that she had died of injuries sustained in the overnight rampage. Her brother was flying to Denver Friday morning, her father, Nick Ghawi, told NBC.

Ghawi's brother Jordan described his sister "tenacious, vivacious," to NBC's TODAY show. "You could add almost any moniker to my sister and she would fit it."

"She was sharp, funny, enthusiastic and had the kind of passion for sports and journalism that makes people succeed," sportswriter Jesse Spector wrote on the Sporting News  website.

Spector said he exchanged tweets with Ghawi just minutes before the movie started.

Sports radio station 104.3 tweeted "We're sad to report @JessicaRedfield, an intern for The Fan, was 1 of those killed in the theater shooting. Our prayers are w/her family."

On his blog, Jessica's brother Jordan wrote about the moment he heard the news.

"At approximately 0215 CST, I received an hysterical, and almost unintelligible, phone call from my mother stating that my sister, Jessica Ghawi, had been shot while attending the midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Denver, CO. I was able to contact the man that was with my sister, mutual friend Brent Lowak, who stated that they were in the theatre when an incendiary device was fired into the crowd and that shots rang out immediately afterwards. Brent further stated that he took two rounds and that my sister took one round followed by an additional round which appeared to strike her in the head. At this time, I do not have confirmation that she is alive or dead."

Around 12:30 p.m., Jordan posted a grim update. "Have received word from the coroner's office that Jessica has indeed died of injuries sustained in the shooting." 

He also said he had visited Lowak, the friend Jessica had been with, in the hospital. Lowak was "medically stable," he tweeted.

Jessica Ghawi had exchanged tweets with friends before the midnight showing of the new Batman movie began, teasing one friend for not going to the early screening like she was.

"Of course we're seeing Dark Knight. Redheaded Texan spitfire, people should never argue with me. Maybe I should get in on those NHL talks..." she tweeted from her Twitter handle, @JessicaRedfield.

A friend of Ghawi's, Mike Lavender, told MSNBC-TV that she "moved to Denver to pursue her dream. One of the things that she had been working on with all the fires in Colorado was she had asked everybody to donate sports equipment for people because she knows how sports brings such joy."

After hearing the news Lavender had spoken with Ghawi's mother, who was planning on visiting her daughter in Colorado next week. 

"It was surreal," he said. "When somebody you know is involved, when somebody you know is murdered, it hits you in a place that I wish on nobody. It's devastating." 

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