RENO — About 500 people paid their respects Friday at a funeral for a 26-year-old Navy veteran who was among the victims of the Colorado movie theater shooting.
Jonathan Blunk, who served three tours in the Middle East from 2004 to 2009, died after shielding a friend and telling her to stay down when a heavily armed gunman burst into the midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colo., killing 12 people and wounding or injuring 58 others.
“He was a hero, and I salute him,” said Roland Lackey, who officiated the full military service that was attended by Blunk’s wife, Chantel, daughter, Hailey, 4, son, Maximus, 2, and dozens of service members.
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.
Blunk, a 2004 graduate of Hug High School in Reno, lived in Aurora and worked for a small flooring company.
Chantel Blunk said she and her husband 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.”
Jonathan Blunk was an avid outdoorsman and gun owner.
He had planned to re-enlist in the Navy in hopes of becoming a SEAL after shrinking agency budgets stalled his goal of becoming a police officer, said James Gill of Brighton, Colo., his roommate in the Navy.
Blunk was a certified firefighter and emergency medical technician who spent the bulk of his time in the Navy aboard the USS Nimitz.
“Asking why this happened to Jonny, of all people, has absolutely no answer,” Gill said at Friday’s funeral. “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.”
Contributions from a variety of sources, including the Reno Aces baseball team and the USS Nimitz, will go toward support of Blunk’s wife and children, said Amy DeGuzman, of Bremerton, Wash., his supervisor in the Navy and a pallbearer.
“These kids will not want,” she said before the funeral. “We want to make sure the family has enough so Chantel can provide for them. She’s still in shock, and she’s trying to raise kids and they’re young.”
Blunk’s wife and children are temporarily staying with her parents in Reno. She has worked as a model to help make ends meet and hopes to return to school in the future, DeGuzman said.