As the political campaigns of President Obama and Mitt Romney take a weekend pause from their acrimony to let the nation mourn the massacre in Colorado, the Aurora police chief said the president’s visit to Aurora scheduled for today “will be very powerful and will help” the victims of the Friday shooting.
“I can’t tell you how important this visit is,” Police Chief Daniel Oates told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
It took the deaths of 12 people and more than 50 people wounded from gunshots to temporarily stop the presidential candidates from hammering away at each other over the economy and Romney’s taxes. In his weekly address yesterday, Obama asked the country to turn to “prayer and reflection” and vowed that the federal government would do “everything necessary to bring whoever’s responsible for this heinous crime to justice.”
Chief Oates—who was a longtime member of the New York Police Department and reportedly is a good friend of NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly—said he hoped the visit from the president would offer families comfort that local government may not have been able to extend in the chaotic aftermath of the shooting.
“I spent 90 minutes with the families on Friday afternoon, and this was during the period the 10 deceased, the bodies were still in the theater, and they were so desperate for confirmation that I couldn’t give to them, and they were hurting so much,” Oates said. “We were so pleased to be able to tell them through our victim advocates contacting the families yesterday that the president is coming here. These families need that kind of contact by our elected leader and it will be very powerful and it will help them. As awful as what they’ve been through, and what they’re going through has been, having the president there is very, very powerful and it means a great deal to them and all of Aurora.”
During his visit to Colorado, the president “visit with families of victims of the shooting as well as local officials,” according to the White House. Oates confirmed he would be among the local officials to meet with the president.
Obama spoke with Oates on Friday afternoon and told the chief that he could count on the “full support” of the federal government in his investigation.