Obama meets victims of Colorado shooting
AURORA (COLORADO) US PRESIDENT Barack Obama travels to Colorado on Sunday to meet victims of the cinema shooting massacre, as Aurora residents flock to church services in memory of the 12 slain moviegoers.
Another 58 people were injured, nearly all of them shot, when the gunman, dressed in black and wearing body armour and a gas mask, burst into the packed Batman premiere “The Dark Knight Rises” shortly after midnight on Friday.
The gunman, allegedly 24- year-old James Holmes, emerged from the fire exit, threw two canisters of noxious gas, stood in front of the screen, fired one shot up in the air, and then began shooting randomly into the panicked crowd.
Calls for another look at America’s gun laws mount are mounting in the aftermath of the tragedy as it emerged that the alleged shooter bought his four weapons legally, as well as thousands of rounds of ammunition on the Internet.
Police on Saturday entered the gunman’s booby-trapped apartment and revealed the names of the 12 fatalities, including a six-year-old girl whose mother was among those seriously injured.
Aurora, a town outside Denver, Colorado, is 20 miles (32 kilometres) from the scene of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, in which two students shot dead 13 people before committing suicide.
Obama was at first reluctant to visit, worried that he could be a distraction, Colorado state governor John Hickenlooper told CNN on Sunday.
“But as we talked to individuals in the hospital, and we talked to Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan, it was unanimous that the president could come, it would be a very, very positive thing for this community.” The president will meet with families and victims, and is planning to go to the hospital, Hickenlooper said, though it is unlikely that he will stay for a community vigil scheduled in Aurora for the early evening.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg — one of the few high-ranking US politicians that openly favours gun control — demanded on Sunday that both Obama and his Republican presidential rival, Mitt Romney, take action on gun control.
“This really is an enormous problem for the country, and it’s up to these two presidential candidates. They want to lead this country, and they’ve said things before that they’re in favour of banning things like assault weapons,” Bloomberg said on the CBS show “Face the Nation.” “Where are they now and why don’t they stand up?” asked Bloomberg. “If they want our votes they better.” The actor who plays the caped crusader in the film, the last in a Batman trilogy, voiced sorrow at the shooting, and the studio behind the movie said it was withholding box office data out of respect for the victims.
“Words cannot express the horror that I feel,” British actor Christian Bale said in a statement. “I cannot begin to truly understand the pain and grief of the victims and their loved ones, but my heart goes out to them.” Bomb experts spent on Saturday inching their way into Holmes’s apartment. A small boom from a controlled detonation blew out a few pieces of debris, and a short time later police announced they had defused all major threats.
Aurora police chief Dan Oates did nothing to hide his anger at what the authorities found inside the apartment.
“Make no mistake, this apartment was designed to kill whoever entered it. And who was most likely to enter that location after he planned and executed this horrific crime? It was going to be a police officer,” he said.
Early Sunday police dismissed media reports that another person, a fellow medical PhD student, had helped Holmes in his killing spree, and had called the police and threatened more violence if Holmes was not released.