Image: Family members at Jonathan Blunk's grave
Cathleen Allison  /  AP
Standing by his brother's grave, Dillon Blunk hugs family member Lorraine Boone following the funeral service, in Reno, Nev., on Friday.
By
updated 8/3/2012 7:25:18 PM ET 2012-08-03T23:25:18

A Navy veteran who died after throwing himself in front of a friend during the Colorado movie theater shooting was remembered Friday for his fearlessness and optimism.

Some mourners at the funeral for 26-year-old Jonathan Blunk also said they've been told by officials that there are indications he may have tried to stand up to the heavily armed gunman and stop him during the July 20 attack in Aurora, Colo.

"Law enforcement is leaning toward he was trying to get the (suspect's) gun to save people's lives," said Roland Lackey, an Air Force veteran who officiated the service. "He was a hero, and I salute him."

FBI spokesman Dave Joly in Denver said Friday that a court gag-order prevented him from commenting on the case. Officials have not yet indicated publicly whether anyone inside the Aurora theater confronted suspected gunman James Holmes during the shooting spree that left 12 people dead and dozens wounded.

Among the 500 mourners who packed a mortuary in the Nevada city where Blunk was raised were his wife, Chantel; daughter, Hailey, 4; son, Maximus, 2; and dozens of service members.

Blunk, who served three tours in the Middle East from 2004 to 2009, was credited for saving his friend's life when the heavily armed gunman burst into the midnight showing of the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises."

Kyle Dawson, his shipmate in the Navy, said authorities told Blunk's widow that her husband also matched the description of a man who went after the suspect.

Based on where Blunk's body was found in the theater, Dawson said, "he was trying to get the guy ... Jonny had no fear in any situation. You could count on him in any circumstance. He was a once-in-a-lifetime friend."

FBI spokesman Dave Joly in Denver said Friday that a court gag-order prevented him from commenting on the case.

James Holmes, 24, a former doctoral student in neuroscience, was charged with dozens of counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder in the July 20 attack, one of the deadliest mass shootings in recent U.S. history.

Defense: Theater shooting suspect was seeing psychiatrist

Blunk, a 2004 graduate of Hug High School in Reno, lived in Aurora and worked for a small flooring company. He planned to re-enlist in the Navy with a goal of becoming a Navy SEAL.

James Gill, his roommate in the Navy, spoke of the senselessness of the shooting spree at the suburban Denver theater.

"Asking why this happened to Jonny, of all people, has absolutely no answer," Gill said. "He made it a point to befriend everyone, and the guy didn't know what negativity was. Throw into that a little testosterone ... and you have one beautiful man."

Chantel Blunk said she and her husband often used humor to deal with life's difficulties.

"Everybody knows Jonny would say 'suck it up,'" she said. "I'm going to miss him, but don't come at me with tears. I'll shoo you away from me if you do."

Funerals held for 3 Colorado shooting victims
Image: Jonathan Blunk
Ho  /  AFP - Getty Images
Jonathan Blunk was 26.

Blunk was a certified firefighter and emergency medical technician who spent the bulk of his time in the Navy aboard the USS Nimitz. He received a full military burial, including a gun salute and the playing of taps, at a hilltop cemetery overlooking Reno.

Amy DeGuzman, of Bremerton, Wash., his supervisor in the Navy and a pallbearer, conducted a ceremonial roll call of shipmates that included Blunk's name. When there was no answer, a shipmate responded, "Jonathan Blunk gave his life saving another."

About 30 current and former sailors who served with Blunk attended the funeral, with some serving as pallbearers.

"Be strong," Dawson advised family and friends, "and let's do what we can to get through it and be there for Chantel and the kids."

Contributions from a variety of sources, including the Reno Aces baseball team and the USS Nimitz, will go toward support of Blunk's widow and children, DeGuzman said.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Involuntary mental health confinement: a ‘gray area’

  1. Closed captioning of: Involuntary mental health confinement: a ‘gray area’

    >>> from london now we focus on colorado . new information and new questions tonight about how much the people around the accused colorado gunman james holmes knew about his mental state . holmes dropped out of a ph.d program at the university of colorado just weeks before the shooting rampage that killed 12 and injured 58. our report from nbc 's mike taibbi .

    >> reporter: before james holmes quit his neuro science ph.d program he was being treated by dr. lynn fenton a university of colorado psychiatrist. by then, mid june, police say he had already begun assembling an arsenal of four guns like these, full tactical gear, and 6,000 rounds of ammunition. were there warning signs he was unraveling? there have been unconfirmed reports that dr. holmes spoke to about him then to the campus's blafrl evaluation and threat assessment team that handles concerns about individuals who may be threatening, disruptive, or otherwise problematic. even though campus police are part of the beta team no apparent move was made to impose a 72-hour mental health evaluation on holmes as is available under colorado law.

    >> when an individual is deemed to be of imminent danger to others, they can be involuntarily committed against their will and frequently against their wishes.

    >> reporter: a campus police source told nbc news that enforcing an involuntary mental health hold is a gray area and psychiatrists who hear lots of disturbing talk from patients agree.

    >> they tend to err on the side of personal rights so if the person is able to convince them they're not being dangerous at that moment they typically don't hospitalize them.

    >> the university of colorado chancellor's reaction, i believe until it's been demonstrated otherwise, that our people did what they should have done. no comment from dr. fenton. and judge william sylvester has ordered a hearing next week into how much if anything about her contacts with james holmes five weeks and more before the massacre will ever be made public. mike taibbi , nbc news, los

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