Sailor from Crystal Lake killed in Colo. mass shooting

July 21, 2012 (CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill.)

Petty Officer Third Class John Thomas Larimier, 27, was in the Navy and stationed in Aurora, Colorado.

His parents live in northwest suburban Crystal Lake and while they are not talking, his neighbors and others who know him are.

The family says Larimer was a proud sailor, and put out this statement about the tragedy Saturday:

"We send our thoughts and prayers out to the families of the other victims and those still recovering in the hospital. We love you John and we will miss you always."

It's heartbreaking news for the family and others that live in this community.

"Words cannot describe the grief I felt," said neighbor Victoria Trull. "I have a son 24 years old who went to see the Batman movie locally. I can't imagine how a family would feel if their son was killed in a movie theater by a maniac."

A lowered flag at Crystal Lake South High School honors the 2003 graduate.

Brittney Venetucci was a high school friend of Larimer's. She also went to Northern Illinois University and knew one of the victims of the 2008 shooting there.

"(Larimer) was very smart but still very down to Earth," said Brittney Venetucci. "Friends with almost everybody. He was a very loveable guy."

"He was a smart kid. He could have done, I mean, he was going places."

At Crystal Lake South High, Larimer competed in academic tournaments and was active in plays.

His theater director Ben Stoner spoke of his senseless death.

"It seems that it always happens to someone like John, that was so smart, that was here to do such good things," he said.

In fact, ABC News reports he leapt over his seat to protect his girlfriend.

When Larimer was killed, three fellow sailors also stationed at nearby Buckley Air Force Base dragged his body out of the theatre.

McHenry County State's Attorney Louis Bianchi jogs past the Larimer home twice a week and couldn't believe the massacre in Colorado hit so close to home.

"Here we have a veteran that's doing his tour of duty and goes in with friends to try and enjoy his evening and loses his life not in combat, but in another kind of combat," Bianchi said. "It's really sad to see."

Larimer's father said his son followed in the footsteps of him and his father, generations of sailors when he joined in June of last year.

The 27-year-old Navy petty officer who analyzed communications signals was among a group of sailors at the movie.

His commanding officer said he'd felt like he'd lost a son.

"It's hard," said Cmdr. Jeffrey Jakuboski. "It's tough. You know, we're not bullet proof."

Saturday night, Larimer's relatives were working with the Navy to bring their loved-one home.

The Navy said another sailor was treated and released for injuries sustained at the theater. Both were from a unit that belongs to U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. Tenth Fleet at Buckley Air Force.

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