Obama, in Colorado, comforts victims of theater shootings

Aurora begins to heal as details emerge

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DENVER — President Obama met Sunday in a Colorado hospital with victims of the movie-theater shooting rampage and their families, saying he offered them comfort that “much of the world is thinking about them.”

“As I described to them, I come to them not so much as president as I do as a father and as a husband,” Mr. Obama told reporters at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora. “I confessed to them that words are always inadequate in these kinds of situations, but that my main task … was to let them know that we are thinking about them at this moment and will continue to think about them each and every day.”

The president’s visit came two days after a lone gunman killed 12 people and wounded 58 when he opened fire on an audience watching a midnight premiere of the new Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Suspect James Holmes, 24, is in custody and is said not to be cooperating with investigators. His first court appearance is set for Monday.

The investigation, meanwhile, continued Sunday as police were finally able to gain access to reams of evidence in the booby-trapped apartment of Mr. Holmes.

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Travis Hirko pauses Sunday at a cross across the street from the ... more >

Authorities finished removing boxes of items, including a computer, from Mr. Holmes’ dwelling in north Aurora after dismantling and removing at least 30 homemade bombs rigged to explode with trip wires. If detonated, police said, the explosives likely would have killed anyone who entered the apartment and engulfed the building in flames.

The explosives were taken by a dump truck to a bomb-disposal range about 50 miles east of Aurora, where they were detonated and burned.

The apartment building remained closed Sunday to residents, although those living in the four surrounding buildings were allowed to return to their homes.

“Security of the building is still being maintained because of chemical hazards from the suspect’s apartment,” the Aurora Police Department said in a statement. “Residents are being allowed to get personal items. When it is deemed safe, they will be allowed to return home. It is not known when this will occur for certain.”

The booby-trapped apartment was another indication of what police described as months of planning behind the suspect’s deadly outburst. Mr. Holmes is thought to have stormed the Century 16 theater wielding two canisters of tear gas and three firearms.

The president praised the community’s first responders and recounted an individual act of heroism that he said he learned of personally — he even said the media hadn’t reported it yet — while speaking to the families of the victims. Mr. Obama said shooting victim Allie Young, 19, was saved by her friend Stephanie Davis, 21, after Ms. Young was shot in the neck.

Mr. Obama said Ms. Davis “had the presence of mind to drop down on the ground with her, pull her out of the aisle, place her fingers over where Allie had been wounded and apply pressure the entire time, while the gunman was still shooting.”

Allie told Stephanie  she needed to run; Stephanie refused to go,” the president said. “Instead [she] actually with her other hand called 911 on her cellphone. I don’t know how many people at any age would have the presence of mind that Stephanie did, or the courage that Allie showed.”

He praised both young women, saying as “heartbreaking as it is for the families” of the tragedy, “it’s worth us spending most of our time reflecting on young Americans like Allie and Stephanie, because they represent what’s best in us.”

Referring to the families who lost loved ones in the attack, Mr. Obama said, “I also had a chance to give folks some hugs, and to shed some tears, but also to share some laughs as they remembered the wonderful lives that these wonderful people represented.”

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