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Colorado movie theater shooting: President Obama, Mitt Romney respond

2:55 PM, Jul 20, 2012   |    comments
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(Thomas Cooper/Getty Images)

AURORA, Co. -- President Barack Obama and presidential candidate Mitt Romney have both released statements expressing their condolences for those affected by Friday's deadly movie theater shooting in a Denver suburb.

PHOTOS | Movie theater shooting

President Obama's statement was read on NBC's "Today" a few hours after news of the shooting broke:

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. We 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. 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.

Romney's camp released a statement Friday morning as well:

Ann and I are deeply saddened by the news of the senseless violence that took the lives of [12] people in Colorado and injured dozens more. We are praying for the families and loved ones of the victims during this time of deep shock and immense grief. We expect that the person responsible for this terrible crime will be quickly brought to justice.

Chris Walker, a spokesman for Romney, said the presidential candidate will address the shooting when he attends an event in New Hampshire Friday afternoon.

President Obama cut short a planned campaign stop in Florida to return to Washington, USA TODAY reported

Later in the day, the president signed a proclamation lowering the US flag to half-staff across the nation in honor of the shooting victims, which said, in part:

"As a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence perpetrated on July 20, 2012, in Aurora, Colorado, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government and in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, July 25, 2012."

The shooting occurred shortly after 2 a.m. EST, when a masked gunman burst into an Aurora, Colo., movie theater, released a can of tear gas and then began shooting. Twelve people were confirmed dead and about 50 were wounded.

The suspect was identified as 24-year-old James Holmes of North Aurora, Colo. He was arrested at the scene.

The theater was playing a midnight showing of the new summer blockbuster The Dark Knight Rises.

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