President Barack Obama, on a campaign trip in Palm Beach, Fla., was informed of the deadly shooting spree in Aurora, Colo., by Homeland Security Adviser John Brennan at 5:26 ET this morning, according to White House press secretary Jay Carney.
The White House released the following statement from the president at about 7:30 a.m.: “Michelle and I are shocked and saddened by the horrific and tragic shooting in Colorado. “Federal and local law enforcement are still responding, and my administration will do everything that we can to support the people of Aurora in this extraordinarily difficult time.”
He said police and FBI are “committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice, ensuring the safety of our people, and caring for those who have been wounded.”
“As we do when confronted by moments of darkness and challenge, we must now come together as one American family,” Obama said. “All of us must have the people of Aurora in our thoughts and prayers as they confront the loss of family, friends, and neighbors, and we must stand together with them in the challenging hours and days to come.”
Obama was originally scheduled to attend campaign rallies in Ft. Myers and Orlando on Friday before returning to Washington this evening.
According to a Washington Post report, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney issued a statement that he and wife Ann are “deeply saddened” by the shooting, which he described as “senseless violence.”
“We are praying for the families and loved ones of the victims during this time of deep shock and immense grief,” Romney said in a statement. “We expect that the person responsible for this terrible crime will be quickly brought to justice.”
Obama canceled his second campaign stop Friday, originally scheduled to be held in Winter Park, Fla., in light of the shooting. Obama addressed the shooting during the Friday morning event in Ft. Myers, Fla.
Here is the full text of the president's speech:
"Let me, first of all, say how grateful I am for all of you being here and how much we appreciate everything that you’ve done. I know that they’re a lot of people here who have been so engaged in the campaign, have sacrificed so much, people who have been involved back since 2007. And so I want all of you to know how appreciative I am.
"And I know many of you came here today for a campaign event. I was looking forward to having a fun conversation with you about some really important matters that we face as a country and the difference between myself and my opponent in this election.
"But, this morning, we woke up to news of a tragedy that reminds us of all the ways that we are united as one American family. By now, many of you know, many of you have heard that few miles outside of Denver, in a town called Aurora, at least 12 people were killed when a gunman opened fire in a movie theater. And dozens more are being treated for injuries at a local hospital. Some of the victims are being treated at a children’s hospital.
"Now, we’re still gathering all the facts about what happened in Aurora, but what we do know is that the police have one suspect in custody and the federal government stands ready to do whatever’s necessary to bring whoever’s responsible for this heinous crime to justice. And we will take every step possible to ensure the safety of all of our people. We’re going to stand by our neighbors in Colorado during this extraordinarily difficult time. And I had a chance to speak with the mayor of Aurora as well as the governor of Colorado to express not just on behalf of Michelle and myself, but the entire American family how heartbroken we are.
"Even as we learn how this happened and who’s responsible, 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.
"The people we lost in Aurora loved and they were loved. They were mothers and fathers. They were 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. And 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. And what matters at the end of the day is not the small thing. It’s not the trivial things, which so often consume us and our daily lives. Ultimately, it’s how we choose to treat one another and how we 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. At the end of the day, what we’ll remember will be those we loved and what we did for others. That’s why we’re here.
"I’m sure that many of you who are parents here had the same reaction that I did when I heard this news. My daughters go to the movies. What if Malia and Sasha had been at 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, and I’m sure you will do the same with your children. But, for those parents who may not be so lucky, we have to embrace them and let them know we’ll be there for them as a nation. So, again, I am so grateful that all of you are here. I am so moved by your support. But there are going to be other days for politics. This, I think, is a day for prayer and reflection.
"I hope all of you will keep the people of Aurora in your hearts and minds today. May the Lord bring them comfort and healing in hard days to come. I’m grateful to all of you and I hope that, as a consequence of today’s events, as you leave here, you spend a little time thinking about the incredible blessings that God has given us. Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. God bless the United States of America."
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