President Barack Obama on Sunday comforted the families of the 12 people killed and 58 wounded in Thursday's mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.
In the city traumatized by a tragedy that has also shaken the nation, Obama visited the University of Colorado Hospital, where he met privately with families and some of the wounded still in intensive care.
A little more than three hours after he arrived, the president said he told those he met that he came not so much as a president, but as a father and a husband.
"I confessed to them that words are always inadequate in these situations, but that my main task was to serve as a representative of the entire country and let them know that we are thinking about them at this moment and we will continue to think about them each and every day, and that the awareness that not only all of America, but much of the world is thinking about them might serve as some comfort," he said.
Obama said he tried to assure those he met that although the alleged gunmen has received a lot of attention, it will fade and what will be remembered will be "the good people impacted by this tragedy."
The suspect, James Holmes, is in police custody as authorities continue their investigation. He is due to make his first court appearance on Monday.
As people mourn the loss of loved ones, President Obama and likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney are keeping political ads off television in Colorado.
The tragedy was the second mass shooting in the state in 13 years. A shooting spree in 1999 at Columbine High School in Littleton, only 27 kilometers away, left 12 students and one teacher dead.
Last week's shooting in Aurora has renewed the national debate over gun control, and could be a major focus of attention leading into the November presidential election.
Before flying to California for campaign events there and in other western states this week, Obama referred to a prayer vigil held Sunday night in Aurora. He said he hopes that during the coming days and months, Americans can reflect not only on "how we can do something about some of the senseless violence that ends up marring this country," but also on its wonderful people.