President Barack Obama on Sunday told the families of the victims of Friday’s movie theater massacre that “all of America and much of the world is thinking about them.”
Obama met with the family members Sunday at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, Colo., which treated 23 of the people injured in the mass shooting; 10 remain there, seven hurt critically.
Speaking to reporters afterwards, the president quoted Scripture and and said that through the families he found hope in the heartbreak.
Obama relayed a story that he said spoke to the courage of young Americans. Pressing two fingers to his own neck, the president told how one 21-year-old woman saved the life of a friend who had been shot by keeping pressure on a vein that had "started spurting blood" and later helping carry her to safety.
He told reporters after the meeting that he came “not as president but as a father and a husband.” He said “we can all understand what it would be to have someone taken from us in this fashion.”
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A prayer vigil began soon after the president spoke, with thousands of citizens gathering in front of Aurora city hall to hear family members of the victims, public officials amd church leaders speak.
Several people in the crowd gathering for the vigil were wearing Batman t-shirts, and one told CNN that her intent was to not let the gunman take what was good away from them.
"There was one act of incredible evil, but that act has been covered by millions of acts of kindness," Marie Isom, a woman in the crowd with her 16-year-old daughter, said. "We don't have the anger and hatred. We don't understand, but we can't let the anger and hatred take over our lives."
Twelve people died and dozens were injured in Friday's shooting at a cineplex during a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises." Police are expected to charge 24-year-old James Holmes, the only suspect in the crime, with multiple counts of first-degree murder.
Holmes was being held in solitary confinement at a Denver-area county detention facility and was not cooperating to authorities, Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said.
"He lawyered up. He's not talking to us," the chief said of Holmes, who has been assigned a public defender.
Earlier Sunday, the owner of a gun range told the Associated Press that Holmes applied to join the club last month but never became a member because of his behavior and a "bizarre" message on his voice mail.
Holmes emailed an application to join the Lead Valley Range in Byers on June 25 in which he said he was not a user of illegal drugs or a convicted felon, owner Glenn Rotkovich told the AP. When Rotkovich called to invite him to a mandatory orientation the following week, he said he heard a message on Holmes' voice mail that was "bizarre -- guttural, freakish at best."
He left two other messages but eventually told his staff to watch out for Holmes at the July 1 orientation and not to accept him into the club, Rotkovich said.
Earlier in Aurora, which is not far from the scene of the 1999 Columbine High School student massacre, the victims were remembered at church services throughout the city.
"Our culture needs to change," Father Mauricio Bermudez told a packed mass at the Queen of Peace Catholic Church, according to Reuters.
"What kind of people are we becoming? Today, we must change. Today is the day."
(Photos by Getty Images)
Here's a video of President Obama's remarks after meeting with the victims: