Obama consoles US massacre victims, survivors
AFP and APAURORA, Colorado -- President Barack Obama paid emotional tribute Sunday to the victims and survivors of the Aurora cinema massacre, as the shaken U.S. town held a tearful vigil for the 12 dead filmgoers.
July 24, 2012, 11:21 am TWN
Obama, making a visit to the stricken Colorado town, said he shed tears with relatives of those who died as the community struggles to recover from Friday's shooting at a screening of the latest Batman movie, which also left 58 injured.
“I confessed to them that words are always inadequate in these types of situations,” he said as thousands gathered for a vigil outside the municipal center in Aurora, just outside Denver.
Speaking after visiting with families in hospital, he said he “had the chance to give folks some hugs, and to shed some tears, but also to share some laughs” as families remembered the “wonderful” lives of their loved ones.
The alleged gunman, 24-year-old James Holmes, is accused of bursting into a packed midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” early Friday, throwing two canisters of noxious gas into the crowd, and then shooting at random.
Shortly after Obama's speech, thousands of locals offered loud rounds of spontaneous applause as police officers, army and other officials came towards a stage for the start of the vigil.
“While our hearts are broken, our community is not,” Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan told the crowds, which included many people in tears.
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper drew applause when he refused to mention Holmes by name, referring to him only as “suspect A” and insisting that the priority should be to remember the 12 victims.
He then read out their names, after which the crowd said, “We will remember.”
Obama's stop in Colorado — by chance a key state in the state-by-state election — came as he was about to shift into a mix of campaign fundraisers and official travel across the West starting Monday. Republican challenger Mitt Romney resumed political activities Sunday in California, where he courted Republican donors in three fundraisers in the San Francisco area.
“I know the president is in Colorado today,” Romney told supporters while keeping a subdued tone. “He's visiting with families and friends of the victims, which is the right thing for the president to be doing on this day — appreciate that.”
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