President Barack Obama met with friends and family of the Colorado shooting victims on Sunday as churches around Aurora reflected on the tragic incident that left 12 killed and at least 58 wounded.
- (Photo: Reuters/Larry Downing)
- (Photo: Reuters/Jeremy Papasso)
"Although the perpetrator of this evil act has received a lot of attention over the last couple of days, that attention will fade away," Obama said in a televised address after meeting with families at the University of Colorado Hospital on Sunday.
Obama added that after the suspect in the Aurora movie theater shooting "has felt the full force of our justice system, what will be remembered are the good people who were impacted by this tragedy."
Choosing not to even utter the name of the suspect, James Eagen Holmes, the president spoke about the bravery of Stephanie Davies who saved the life of her friend Allie Young by putting pressure on her neck wound with one hand and calling for help on her cellphone with the other. "They assure us that out of this darkness a brighter day is going to come," Obama said.
"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," CNN quoted Obama as telling reporters after the meeting with families of the victims.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper addressed a community memorial service at the municipal center in Aurora, a Denver suburb. "I refuse to say his (suspect's) name," Reuters quoted him as saying. "In my house we're just going to call him Suspect A."
Pastor Robin Holland led a prayer for comfort at the memorial. "City of Aurora, the healing has begun. Your presence here is the step of healing that this nation needs to see. And I am so proud to be a citizen of Aurora, Colorado," he was quoted as saying.
Churches in Aurora also rose to the occasion as they held Sunday worship services.
At Colorado Community Church in Aurora, where shooting victim Gordon Cowden, 51, regularly attended services, it was a tearful worship service. "All the victims had moms and dads, brothers and sisters. We need to lift them all up," lead pastor Robert Gelinas told the more than 600 congregants of the church, which is less than 3 miles from the theater. As the choir sang the hymn "Lord Have Mercy," many worshipers leaned on one another and dabbed at damp faces with tissues. Hugs were plentiful.
Gelinas noted that the 24-year-old suspect also has a mom and dad. "We must pray for them," he said.
At Aurora's Queen of Peace Catholic Church, less than 2 miles from the theater, the Rev. Mauricio Bermudez told the members, "The tears you are crying now are the tears of Jesus, because when those people were murdered, he was with them." He added, "When those people were hurt, Jesus was hurt."
Bermudez had planned to attend the premiere along with his youth ministry at the theater. But the shows sold out before he was able to buy tickets. "I think the Lord has protected us because we didn't get a ticket to that place, but many others weren't that lucky," he said.
At Restoration Christian Fellowship, about 2 miles from the shooting site, Magnification Pastor Tracy Herrera prayed, saying, "In spite of the circumstances and tragedy, God, you are good all the time. We pray for the families, Father, that you send them comfort, peace and love." Among the roughly 300 congregants were three friends, Sierra Graves, Derrick Poage and Naya Thompson, who went together Friday to see "The Dark Knight Rises" at the Century Aurora 16 theater.
Church elder Derrick Washington continued the prayer, saying "[the devil] will not have the victory over our community. So we pray for our city, and pray for those who are hurting this morning. We pray for those who are in fear, and those who are questioning their faith."
Holmes, who was being kept in solitary confinement in Arapahoe County Jail, is scheduled for his first court appearance on Monday.