As details continue to emerge about a fatal shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., President Barack Obama expressed his shock and horror at the events and abruptly cut short what was due to be a day of campaigning in the key swing state of Florida.
According to news reports as many as 12 people have been killed after a gunman, reportedly heavily armed and dressed in black, opened fire in a movie theater showing the newly released Batman film, "The Dark Knight Rises."
Some reports have said the gunman, allegedly a white man in his mid-twenties, was wearing a gas mask and a protective vest and witness reports say he released a tear-gas-like canister in the theater before opening fire.
Obama was notified about the shooting before 5:30 a.m., according to press pool reports.
In a written statement issued before the President departed Palm Beach, Fla., for a previously scheduled campaign event in Ft. Meyers, Fla., Obama said he and First Lady Michelle Obama were "shocked and saddened" by the "horrific and tragic" events.
"Federal and local law enforcement are still responding, and my Administration will do everything that we can to support the people of Aurora in this extraordinarily difficult time," Obama said. "We are committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice, ensuring the safety of our people, and caring for those who have been wounded."
Obama said it was a time for the nation to come together in mutual support.
"As we do when confronted by moments of darkness and challenge, we must now come together as one American family," he said. "All of us must have the people of Aurora in our thoughts and prayers as they confront the loss of family, friends, and neighbors, and we must stand together with them in the challenging hours and days to come."
Obama will address the shooting in more detail later Friday morning in Ft. Meyers, according to the campaign.
The appearance, which had originally been billed as a campaign rally, will be cut short, the White House said.
Additionally, Obama also canceled a second campaign event scheduled for later Friday in Winter Park, Fla., and will return to the White House following the event in Ft. Meyers.
Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Vice President Joe Biden and First Lady Michelle Obama have also canceled their events today.
Psaki also said that the campaign has asked affiliates in Colorado to take down Obama's negative ads in light of the shooting.
by RTT Staff Writer
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