Trying to keep his wits about him after being shot during a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises," Mequon native Carey Rottman reached out to his sleeping Facebook friends from a hospital emergency room to ask where Batman was when he needed him.
Rottman and a friend were among 59 people injured by a gunman who hurled a gas canister in a crowded Denver-area movie theater and then opened fire during the early Friday morning showing of the new Batman movie. Twelve other moviegoers died.
"Shot in the leg at Batman. Where is he when you need him. Please pray for everyone here," Rottman, 27, typed from his cellphone to his Facebook page around 3 a.m. Mountain time.
An ambulance had whisked Rottman from the Aurora movie theater to a nearby hospital with a single gunshot wound to the left thigh.
Rottman's friend was shot in the arm and foot. He was taken to a different hospital, where he was recovering Friday. The friend, who plans to become a pastor, officiated at Rottman's outdoor wedding in Minnesota last month, when Rottman married his college sweetheart.
Comments began flooding Rottman's Facebook page hours after his early morning post as friends awoke to the news.
"Crazy man, I'm glad you're all right!" one friend wrote. "Good thing you have tree trunks for legs."
The second friend to respond to Rottman's Facebook post was Andrew Moriarty, Rottman's friend since second grade and a teammate on the Mequon Homestead High School football team. The two graduated from Homestead in 2003.
"Glad you made it out. Recover quickly," Moriarty wrote.
Rottman called his parents' cellphones from the hospital about 2 a.m. Milwaukee time, said his dad, Thiensville dentist Dale Rottman.
"It's the phone call you don't want to get," Dale Rottman said hours later from his son's hospital room.
Carey's stepmom, Colleen Crane, was the one who answered the phone. Rottman told her he was in the emergency room triage because he had been shot. He wanted his parents to know he was OK, but asked them to fly to Denver as soon as possible, Dale Rottman said.
Reception was poor, and it was hard to hear because of the background noise in the emergency room.
Carey's stepmom had been at the family's lake house at Fox Lake when Carey called. She had to drive an hour to get home in the middle of the night and deliver the news to Dale Rottman, whose cellphone was turned off.
The Mequon couple caught the first flight they could get to Denver. They landed after Carey had already gone into surgery.
"It was a long night," Dale Rottman said.
Carey Rottman was groggy after surgery to clean and pack the gunshot wound, his dad said Friday afternoon.
Damage to Rottman's thigh was confined to muscle; the bullet didn't hit a tendon or artery, his dad said.
He'll have a second surgery early next week to repair damaged muscle and do a skin graft.
"His doctor said he'll have a long road ahead of him," Dale Rottman said. "It may be a full year of rehab. But he's doing pretty good."
They haven't discussed the shooting, including where Rottman and his friend were in the theater at the time the gunman opened fire.
Rottman had seen the two previous Batman films at midnight premieres. "The Dark Knight Rises" is intended to be the conclusion of the Batman series.
Rottman's family is relieved that his bride didn't go to the movie with him early Friday.
Rottman married Jessica Thron on June 23. They met at Winona State University in Minnesota, where Rottman studied business and was a running back and kick returner for the Warriors football team. She's from Stillwater, Minn.
In high school, Rottman was part of Homestead's potent wing-T attack as a speedy 5-foot, 8-inch 180-pounder, according to a MequonNow story.
As a junior, Rottman ran for 1,500 yards and was a first-team all-North Shore Conference selection.
Rottman graduated from college with a bachelor's degree in business administration and moved to Denver.
He was a manager at Fastenal, an international company that makes fasteners, before taking a sales job at Coors Distributing Co. five months ago, his dad said.
His boss came to visit him in the hospital Friday afternoon, along with many of his friends.
His dad was still shaky.
"How can these things happen anywhere?" Dale Rottman asked. "You hear it happen to other people and you feel bad, but when it hits your own family, it's quite a shock."
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