U.S. President Barack Obama called the shootings at a movie theatre in Colorado on Friday a reminder that life is fragile and promised that the federal government stood ready to do all it could to seek justice for the “heinous crime.”
Obama cut short a campaign trip in Florida on Friday to return to Washington after a gunman killed 12 people and wounded 59 at a midnight screening of the new Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colo., a Denver suburb.
“Even as we come to learn how this happened and who’s responsible, we may never understand what leads anyone to terrorize their fellow human beings,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address, which was broadcast on Saturday.
“Such evil is senseless — beyond reason,” he said.
Police took James Eagan Holmes, 24, into custody on Friday in a parking lot behind the cinema. He is expected to make his first court appearance on Monday.
The shooting evoked memories of the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, also a Denver suburb.
Obama said “the federal government stands ready to do everything necessary to bring whoever’s responsible for this heinous crime to justice.”
“And if there’s anything to take away from this tragedy, it’s a reminder that life is fragile. Our time here is limited and it is precious,” the president said in his address.
The massacre stunned Aurora and much of the nation, evoking memories of the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, 27 kilometres from Aurora, where two students opened fire and killed 12 students and a teacher.
Text of President Barack Obama’s weekly address:
As many of you know, early on Friday, at least twelve people were killed when a gunman opened fire at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Dozens more are being treated for injuries at local hospitals. Some of the victims are being treated at a children’s hospital.
We are still gathering all the facts about what happened, but we do know that the police have one suspect in custody. And the federal government stands ready to do everything necessary to bring whoever’s responsible for this heinous crime to justice. We will take every step possible to ensure the safety of all our people. And we will stand by our neighbors in Colorado during this extraordinarily difficult time.
Even as we come to learn how this happened and who’s responsible, we may never understand what leads anyone to terrorize their fellow human beings. Such evil is senseless – beyond reason. But while we will never know fully what causes someone to take the life of another, we do know what makes that life worth living.
The people we lost in Aurora loved, and were loved. They were mothers and fathers; husbands and wives; sisters and brothers; sons and daughters; friends and neighbors. They had hopes for the future and dreams that were not yet fulfilled. And if there’s anything to take away from this tragedy, it’s a reminder that life is fragile. Our time here is limited and it is precious. And what matters in the end are not the small and trivial things which often consume our lives. It’s how we choose to treat one another, and love one another. It’s what we do on a daily basis to give our lives meaning and to give our lives purpose. That’s what matters. That’s why we’re here.
I’m sure many of you who are parents had the same reaction I did when you first heard this news: what if it had been my daughters at the theater, doing what young children enjoy doing every day? Michelle and I will be fortunate enough to hug our girls a little tighter this weekend, as I’m sure you will do with your children. But for those parents who may not be so fortunate, we need to embrace them and let them know we will be there for them as a nation.
This weekend I hope everyone takes some time for prayer and reflection – for the victims of this terrible tragedy, for the people who knew them and loved them, for those who are still struggling to recover, and for all the victims of the less publicized acts of violence that plague our communities on a daily basis. Let us keep all these Americans in our prayers. And to the people of Aurora, may the Lord bring you comfort and healing in the hard days to come.