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US chef Billapando survived theater shooting

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 12, 2014 at 1:47 pm •  Published: June 12, 2014

SAO PAULO (AP) — These days, Bryson Billapando hears about threats of violence in Brazil and beyond and flashes back to a gruesome night two years ago in Colorado.

He has done his best to move on since the deadly theater shooting he witnessed at a midnight Batman movie in Aurora, and is now cooking up fresh and healthy meals for the U.S. World Cup team in a gig he couldn't have imagined even just a year ago.

"I just happened to be on the left side of the theater," Billapando recalled Wednesday, taking a quick break a few minutes after preparing the Americans' post-practice lunch. "Then all craziness broke loose."

A gunman opened fire in the theater on July 20, 2012, killing 12 people and wounding 70, including Billapando's then-wife. James Holmes pleaded not guilty because of insanity.

Being part of the U.S. support operation has provided Billapando with a support system of his own, and at a perfect time in his life when he needed a new direction.

Billapando, who celebrates his 31st birthday Thursday, can't provide specifics of the chaos. The trial is scheduled for later this year.

Billapando's then-wife Toni was pregnant with their second child at the time, and she was sitting to his left and got struck by fragments. They also have an older daughter.

The two-year anniversary next month will bring mixed feelings, Billapando expects, following such highs of the World Cup experience.

Since the attack, he has jumped into his work, saying the timing of the World Cup "couldn't have been any better."

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