DENVER—President Obama offered words of consolation and hope at University of Colorado Hospital Sunday in the wake of the midnight movie massacre in Aurora that left 12 dead and 58 wounded.
The president, accompanied by Gov. John Hickenlooper and Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates, spent over two hours with victims and their families at the hospital before giving a brief statement.
“I confessed to them that words are always inadequate for these kinds of situations,” Obama said. “My main task was to serve as a representative for 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.”
The president echoed a widely shared sentiment to focus on remembering the victims in the tragedy, rather than give attention to the perpetrator.
“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,” Obama 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.”
Likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney called the president’s visit Sunday “the right thing” to do. Both campaigns have suspended their political advertising in Colorado until further notice.
The president’s visit preceded a memorial vigil at the Aurora Municipal Center. Thousands of people came to pay homage to the victims and heroes, and to hear words of encouragement from state and local leaders.
“July 20 should never be about remembering this event with a killer, it should be about remembering those individuals, those victims,” Hickenlooper said. “We will remember you, we will honor you by celebrating life, we will honor you by living our lives a little bit better.”
Over the weekend, state and federal authorities emptied the apartment of suspect James Eagen Holmes, which was booby-trapped with homemade bombs rigged to trip-wires and flammable liquids. The explosives were taken by dump truck to a bomb-disposal range roughly 50 miles away, where they were detonated and burned.
Holmes is scheduled to appear early Monday at Arapahoe County District Court. He has been assigned an attorney and is currently being held in solitary confinement at the Arapahoe County Justice Center.
A gunman wearing a gas mask and black tactical gear stormed the Century 16 theater at a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” early Friday, setting off two canisters of gas and opening fire on the panicked crowd.
Police arrived less than two minutes after receiving the first 911 call at 12:39 a.m., taking Holmes into custody after he was found standing by his car in the parking lot behind the theater.
The president quoted Revelation 21:4 during his remarks to give solace to those grieving.
“Scripture says that He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more. Neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”