President Barack Obama Sunday met with surviving victims of the deadly shooting in Aurora, Colorado, last Friday.
A gunman, who is expected to make his first court appearance Monday, allegedly walked into a crowded theater during a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" and opened fire, killing 12 and wounding dozens more.
Obama, who canceled several campaign appearances in the wake of the shooting, traveled to Colorado on Sunday to meet with surviving victims at the University of Colorado Hospital as well as with families of those killed.
The president sought to offer some measure of comfort to those affected by the tragedy in remarks following roughly three hours of closed-door meetings at the hospital.
"I had a chance to visit with each family, and most of the conversation was filled with memory," Obama said. "It was an opportunity for families to describe how wonderful their brother, or their son, or daughter was, and the lives that they have touched, and the dreams that they held for the future."
He added, "I confessed to them that words are always inadequate in these kinds of situations, but that my main task was to serve as a representative of the entire country and let them know that we are thinking about them at this moment and will continue to think about them each and every day, and that the awareness that not only all of America but much of the world is thinking about them might serve as some comfort."
Obama also pledged to the victims that the perpetrator, who police have identified as James Holmes, 24, would face justice.
"I also tried to assure them that although the perpetrator of this evil act has received a lot of attention over the last couple of days, that attention will fade away," he said. "In the end, after he has felt the full force of our justice system, what will be remembered are the good people who were impacted by this tragedy."
Obama said the stories emerging from the shooting were remarkable, both of the lives of those who perished and of those who survived.
"There's one particular story I want to tell because this was the last visit that I had and I think it's representative of everything that I saw and heard today," he said, going on to speak of Allie Young, 19, and her friend Stephanie Davies, 21. "When the gunman initially came in and threw the canisters, he threw them only a few feet away from Allie and Stephanie, who were sitting there watching the film. Allie stood up, seeing that she might need to do something or at least warn the other people who were there. And she was immediately shot."
He added, "As [Young] dropped down on the floor, Stephanie -- 21 years old -- had the presence of mind to drop down on the ground with her, pull her out of the aisle, place her fingers over where she -- where Allie had been wounded, and applied pressure the entire time while the gunman was still shooting. Allie told Stephanie she needed to run. Stephanie refused to go -- instead, actually, with her other hand, called 911 on her cell phone."
Obama said he had been pleased to hear that Young would recover and expressed his amazement at the courage the two young women had shown.
"As tragic as the circumstances of what we've seen today are, as heartbreaking as it is for the families, it's worth us spending most of our time reflecting on young Americans like Allie and Stephanie," he said. "They represent what's best in us, and they assure us that out of this darkness a brighter day is going to come."
He added, "God bless all who helped to respond to this tragedy. And I hope that over the next several days, next several weeks, and next several months, we all reflect on how we can do something about some of the senseless violence that ends up marring this country, but also reflect on all the wonderful people who make this the greatest country on Earth."
by RTT Staff Writer
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