Recently, we reported on a moving photograph snapped over the the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colorado where a vigil was being held to remember those who lost their lives at the hands of madman James Holmes.
See the photo and accompanying article here: Did an ‘Angel’ Appear in the Clouds Over Colorado Theater Vigil?
The photo depicts a strange cloud formation over the theater, and some see the form of an angel in the sky. Many have been moved and comforted by the image. Of course, as soon as anything of this nature comes to light, the skeptics come out with their debunking hats on.
Debunking is healthy. When people try to manipulate the emotions of those who are hurting by falsifying a photo, a document, or creating any fake item, they should be taken to task and proven to be the hoaxters that they are.
In the case of the Aurora Angel, there have been several determined debunkers around the internet that have been earnestly attempting to prove that Photoshop was used to create the ethereal image. I decided to investigate.
I reached out to the original photographer, Crystal Fuller. Crystal is a resident of Aurora and lives relatively close to the theater where the grisly murders took place. She is 33 years old and considers herself a spiritual person who has a strong personal relationship with God, but is not a regular churchgoer.
Living in such close proximity to the site of the shootings, Crystal was very disturbed by the violent crime. She told me in detail how the event affected her.
“I live close to Century 16. When this tragedy occurred it affected me…my friends of friends, neighbors and my community just felt unsafe and violated,” she said. “I have three children, my son of fifteen months. If he would have been older and a big Batman fan….There would have been a good chance I would have taken him. That would have been the theater of choice due to location. It made me upset and in a daze for the days to follow.”
Initially, she thought that attending the vigil might be too emotionally difficult. Her two daughters, age 12 and 9 had many questions about what had happened and why, and Fuller decided that taking her girls to the vigil might be a cathartic experience for everyone.
When they got to the theater, she snapped a few photos of the scene where mourners had begun to gather. At that time she didn’t see anything unusual about the clouds. Later, during prayer, she noticed that the clouds had changed. At that moment she didn’t associate it with an angel form but she certainly noted that there was something striking about the sky. She says, “At the prayer part of the vigil we made our way over to the theater and as we drew near I noticed a cloud immediately, in person it looked like a huge funnel over the movie theater. I kept saying…”look at that cloud” to my girls.”
She took out her Sprint HTC phone and took some more pictures. She then says that she uploaded the photos to her Facebook while at the site of the vigil. As soon as friends and family members noticed the photo, people began to point out that the strange cloud had the shape of an angel. Local news stations picked up the photo and before Fuller knew it, her picture became big news online. Many people took comfort in the picture while others were less impressed. Crystal doesn’t care what people think.
“If it is a cloud to some, that is fine…if it looks like an angel to others…then let it be an Angel to them. If some don’t believe in God…this is not something I can even become to know,” says Fuller of people’s reactions. “My intention was not to begin a religious battle. It was simply to share a photo….and that photo went viral.”
I asked Crystal Fuller some very pointed questions. I asked her if she has any knowledge of photoshop or photo manipulation. Her knowledge of that kind of technology is apparently pretty limited. She said, “I am not familiar with Photoshop or manipulation…I don’t even know where to go to have my SD card downloaded.”
She offered to let me be her friend on Facebook so that I could verify some of the timestamps on the photos, and her story checks out. I saw her images in the Mobile Uploads folder and the images were all uploaded within the timeframe of the vigil. Knowing a bit about photoshop myself, I cannot imagine this being enough time to hoax a photo. From a personal standpoint, I found Crystal Fuller to be a very honest person and did not get any impression that there was an attempt to con people with her images.
Further, I was able to see in her mobile uploads folder that there were several other photos that were taken from different angles but share the same angelic cloud formation. One of them can be seen here:
I personally believe that Crystal Fuller’s images are genuine. I see no evidence of tampering or manipulation. I believe that the fact that there are multiple photos containing the same cloud formation is compelling. Do I think that it really was an “angel” or a sign from God almighty? I have no idea. But there is no evidence that I have been able to gather to indicate that there wasn’t a genuinely odd looking cloud over the Aurora vigil.
The Lord’s ways are mysterious, and what we do know is that while all of those people were gathered to pray for the victims and their families, God was there. Whether He manifested his presence in the clouds or simply in the hearts of those in attendance, He was there.
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20
I welcome any discussion, but I request that it be kept civil.