Baton Rouge women’s peaceful reststop in Aurora turns into setting of horror

This story was published as a sidebar to the A1 story on July 24 which covered President Obama’s visit to one of the shooting victims from Baton Rouge. 

As Elizabeth Sumrall pored over a map a month ago in Seattle, planning her cross-country road trip home to Baton Rouge, she decided Aurora, Colo., would be a more peaceful place than nearby Denver for her and her best friend to spend the night.

“I heard the parking was terrible in Denver,” Sumrall said Sunday.

So last week, Sumrall, 23, and her best friend, Bonnie Kate Pourciau, 18, embarked on their road trip to Yellowstone National Park and Mount Rushmore.

After arriving at their Aurora hotel Thursday, their plans took a fateful turn when the women decided to go see the midnight screening of the latest Batman movie. Read more of this post

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President Obama visits Baton Rouge shooting victim in Colorado

This story was published on page A1 of The Advocate on July 24, 2012.  Here is the sidebar that details how the two Baton Rouge women ended up in Aurora on that fateful night. 

After a long day of surgery followed by visits from doctors, detectives and journalists, shooting victim Bonnie Kate Pourciau, of Baton Rouge, was recovering Sunday in her Colorado hospital bed when an unexpected visitor popped his head around her door.

It was President Barack Obama.

“Can I come in?” he asked her.

“I was like, ‘Whoa, there’s the president!’ ” Pourciau said. “It was really cool. I felt so honored. I got to shake his hand and give him a hug. He was very friendly.”

While standing next to Pourciau’s hospital bed, Obama told her the hardest part of his job is visiting Americans who have been wounded, both in wars and in tragedies.

The president had just come from visiting others who were in worse shape than Pourciau, she said.

“It has been traumatic. I still haven’t begun to process all that happened,” Pourciau said of the shooting. “And thinking about everything, it’s a terrible, terrible, awful thing, but God is holding us and he has us in control and we’re gonna be okay.”

Obama told Pourciau she was an inspiration to him and he loved seeing her smile. He told her she was going to bounce back.

“It was so special to be encouraged by him like that,” she said.

Pourciau, 18, was shot in the knee early Friday during one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history. Read more of this post