President Barack Obama arrives alongside Colorado officials to speak at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, Colorado, July 22, 2012. (Saul Loeb/Getty Images)
AURORA, Colo. (USA TODAY) - President Obama visited Sunday with families of the victims of the movie-theater massacre and some of the survivors as the suburban community mourned its losses and investigators tried to find a motive for one of the worst cases of gun violence in U.S. history.
"Words are always inadequate in these kinds of situations, but my main task is to serve as a representative of the entire country and let them know we are thinking about them and will continue to think about them each and every day," Obama said. "The awareness that not only all of America but much of the world is thinking of them might serve as some comfort.''
Obama went to the University of Colorado hospital here, where 23 of the 70 victims were treated. He praised a "magnificent'' effort by local police and singled out the story of one young woman's heroic action to stop a wounded friend's bleeding as the gunman continued firing.
Twelve people were killed and 58 more were injured in the attack inside a crowded movie theater. Police Chief Dan Oates said the man being held in the shooting, James Holmes, 24, was not cooperating with authorities. "He lawyered up. He's not talking to us," Oates said.
A recent dropout from a neuroscience graduate program, Holmes has been assigned a public defender. He is scheduled to make an initial court appearance today.
Holmes, taken into custody outside the theater early Friday morning, is being held without bond in solitary confinement on suspicion of multiple counts of first-degree murder.
Oates said it may take months for police, FBI and behavioral analysts to determine a motive for the bloody rampage in a theater filled for a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises.
In San Diego, where Holmes graduated from high school, Jerry Borgie, pastor at Peñasquitos Lutheran Church, recalled Holmes as "a little on the shy side."
"I don't think that he had a lot of friends,'' Borgie said.
"It's sickening that somebody could just do that," said Brian Pettee, 35, who attended an evening vigil for the victims with his son Austin, 14. It was held at Aurora Municipal Center, within sight of the theater.