After issuing a written statement earlier in the day, President Barack Obama spoke further on the "Dark Knight" shooting in Colorado during a televised speech in Ft. Meyers, Florida, where he was scheduled to make a stop on behalf of his reelection campaign. Obama has since canceled his planned campaign appearances in light of the tragedy, and is flying back to Washington, D.C., Friday (July 20).
"We're still gathering all the facts about what happened in Aurora, but what we do know is police have one suspect in custody and the federal government stands ready to do whatever is necessary to bring whoever is responsible for this heinous crime to justice," Obama said early in his speech. "We will take every step possible to ensure the safety of all of our people. We're standing by our neighbors in Colorado during this extraordinarily difficult time."
The president addressed questions surrounding the suspect, James Holmes, saying that "we may never understand what leads anybody to terrorize their fellow human beings like this. Such violence, such evil, is senseless. It's beyond reason."
"But while we will never know fully what causes somebody to take the life of another, we do know what makes life worth living," he continued. "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 they had dreams that were not yet fulfilled. If there's anything to take away from this tragedy, it's the reminder that life is very fragile. Our time here is limited and it is precious. What matters at the end of the day is not the small things, not the trivial things that so often consume us and our daily lives. Ultimately, it's how we choose to treat one another, and how we love one another."
Obama said that his thoughts turned to his own children when he first heard the news of the shooting in Colorado. "My daughters go to movies," he said. "What if Malia and Sasha had been in the theater as so many of our kids do every day? Michelle and I will be fortunate enough to hug our girls a little tighter tonight, as I'm sure you'll do with your children. But for those parents who may not be so lucky, we have to embrace them and let them know we will be there for them as a nation."
Though his Florida appearance was originally intended as part of his election campaign, Obama informed audience members that "there are going to be other days for politics. This, I think, is a day for prayer and reflection," a comment that only drew further applause. When the room quieted down, Obama led a moment of silence "for the victims of this terrible tragedy, for the people who know them and loved them, for those who are still struggling to recover, and for all the victims of less publicized acts of violence that plague our community every single day."
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