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President Obama touched down on Sunday in a town in mourning, and spoke to a nation in shock, as he worked to provide leadership in the wake of Thursday night’s deadly movie theater mass shooting.
Obama’s stay in Aurora, Colorado, where 12 moviegoers were killed and 58 more injured during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, was split between efforts private and public. The president met with the families of each of the victims, and recalled his encounters during a nationally televised, ten minute speech.
“I had a chance to visit with each family, and most of the conversation was filled with memory,” Obama said. “It was an opportunity for families to describe how wonderful their brother, or their son, or daughter was, and the lives that they have touched, and the dreams that they held for the future. I confessed to them that words are always inadequate in these kinds of situations, but that my main task was to serve as a representative of 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, and that the awareness that not only all of America but much of the world is thinking about them might serve as some comfort.”
STORY: Colorado ‘Dark Knight Rises’ Shooting Witnesses Describe the Attacks
He also recounted a meeting with 19-year old Allie Young and 21-year old Stephanie Davies, best friends who survived the assault thanks to fast thinking and selfless acts.
“When the gunman initially came in and threw the canisters, he threw them only a few feet away from Allie and Stephanie, who were sitting there watching the film,” he recounted. “Allie stood up, seeing that she might need to do something or at least warn the other people who were there. And she was immediately shot. And she was shot in the neck, and it punctured a vein, and immediately she started spurting blood.
“And apparently, as she dropped down on the floor, Stephanie — 21 years old — had the presence of mind to drop down on the ground with her, pull her out of the aisle, place her fingers over where she — where Allie had been wounded, and applied pressure the entire time while the gunman was still shooting,” Obama continued. “Allie told Stephanie she needed to run. Stephanie refused to go — instead, actually, with her other hand, called 911 on her cell phone.”
This is the third reaction Obama has given about the shootings; he gave an early, brief statement shortly after the news broke early Friday morning, and then addressed the nation later that day. He suspended his campaign ads through the weekend, and ordered flags be flown at half-mast until July 25.
James Holmes, the alleged gunman responsible for the massacre, is due in court on Monday.
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