President Barack Obama on Friday morning publicly addressed the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting that killed at least 12 people, calling Americans to prayer and suspending his day of campaigning in Fort Myers, Fla., in an act of mourning.
- (Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)
- (Photo: NBC News video)
"There are going to be other days for politics. This is a day for prayer and for reflection," Obama told the crowd, who appeared confused minutes before.
Obama had abruptly turned to the tragedy during the middle of his campaign speech, after being made aware of the case. At the end of his remarks, the president asked for a moment of silence for the 12 victims killed and estimated 34 others injured in the shooting that occurred after midnight Friday morning.
Obama told the Florida crowd how "heartbroken we are" that one could "terrorize their fellow human beings like this," and called the early morning shooting a "senseless" and "heinous crime."
The gunman, suspected to be 24-year-old James Holmes, opened fire on a crowded movie theater during the late night premiere showing of Batman's "The Dark Night Rises" at the Century 16 Theaters.
About 20 minutes in to the midnight premiere, Holmes allegedly kicked open the emergency exit of the theater and began shooting randomly as he walked up the steps of the theater toward the main exit.
He allegedly opened tear gas canisters, and some victims reported feeling shrapnel hitting their face.
Several weapons were found in the theater, and Holmes reportedly wore a gas mask, a bullet proof vest, and a riot helmet. He was arrested near his car, parked in the back of the theater.
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Police are currently searching Holmes' apartment in North Aurora, and reportedly found several explosives and chemicals.
President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and first lady Michelle Obama have all canceled their events for today. GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has also paused his campaigning, withdrawing ads he had issued in Colorado.
"The federal government is ready to do whatever is necessary to bring whoever is responsible for this heinous crime to justice," Obama told those in attendance at his campaign speech, which was broadcast nationwide.