To his closest friends and family, he was loving, generous, funny, always willing to help others, and had a bright future ahead of him.

But that bright future was cut short after Alex Teves died last week protecting his girlfriend in the mass, movie-theater shooting in Aurora, Colo.

Teves, 24, was one of 12 victims killed in the shooting that injured 58 others.

“All of the people in the theater that night went to see a movie about a superhero,” said Ty Carlson, one of Teves’ best friends.

“What they did not know was that there already was one sitting among them,” Carlson added.

When alleged suspect James Holmes began to open fire, Teves pushed Amanda Lindgren onto the ground and under the seat. He kept her head low and used his own body as a shield to protect her, Carlson said.

Lindgren said the ordeal was confusing at first, but Teves didn’t hesitate one second in protecting her. She stayed there on the ground while Teves told her “shh, stay down. It’ll be OK, stay down.”

“I know he shielded me afterward, too,” said Lindgren, who then ran out of the theater while gunshots continued. “I just wish I could have done the same for him.”

Teves and Lindgren met nearly three years ago while in their master’s program at the University of Denver in Colorado.

Lindgren said they were inseparable friends from the start, and their friendship turned into a deep, loving relationship. The couple had dreams of being an old, married couple someday, still being silly together.

“He was everything to me, literally my other half,” Lindgren explained.

Ryan Cooper, 25, said his friends’ witty humor drew him and others to Teves’ charm.

Cooper, who grew up in Ahwatukee, knew Teves for 10 years.

“Not one single moment did I feel a negative thing toward him,” said Cooper, who lived with Teves during college.

Mentioning Teves’ heroic effort in shielding Lindgren during the shooting, Cooper wasn’t surprised at his best friends’ instinct to protect.

“Your first instinct (in those situations) shines a light on who you really are,” Cooper said. “And that was Alex, never doing the easy thing, but the right thing.”

Teves’ parents, Tom and Caren, and two younger brothers moved to Ahwatukee from New Jersey when Teves was in middle school. He graduated from Desert Vista High School in 2006 and then from the University of Arizona in 2010. In June, Teves graduated from his mater’s program at the University of Denver in Colorado.

Teves was planning on applying for a program in the fall tied into his future career in physical therapy, Caren said.

“He was a hero to me,” said Caren, of her eldest son. “It’s in true Teves fashion that he died a hero just as he lived.”

One of Teves’ younger brothers, Tommy, who will be a senior at Desert Vista High School, said Teves was devoted to helping youth in the Phoenix area.

Teves would regularly spend time with kids who came from rough neighborhoods, taking them out to eat, and mentoring them as a positive role model.

“He helped anybody, and it didn’t matter who, he just wanted to do good,” Lindgren added.

Because of his son’s courage and lifetime of helping others, Tom, Teves’ father, said the family isn’t going to let this tragedy keep them down.

“We’re not going to let the cowards win,” said Tom, with a brave tone. “To honor his life, we have to live like he did.”

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