“As president of the United States — but also as a father — I’m spending a lot of time just thinking about the families and reaching out to them,” President Obama told reporters in the Oval Office, where he was meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
The president’s youngest daughter, Sasha, is 9 years old, the same age as Christina-Taylor Green, killed in the attack.
“Obviously all of us are still grieving and shocked from the tragedy that took place” in Tucson Saturday, he said. “Gabby Giffords and others are still fighting to recover. Families are still absorbing the enormity of their losses.”
The president said that “we have a criminal investigation that is ongoing. Charges no doubt will be brought against the perpetrator of this heinous crime.”
Mr. Obama said that he believes it “important to also focus on the extraordinary courage shown” during the shooting.
“A 20 year old college student who ran into line of fire to rescue his boss,” he said. “A wounded woman that helped secure the ammunition that might have caused more damage. The citizens who wrestled down the gunman. Part of that, I think, speaks to the best of America even in the face of such mindless violence.”
The president was referring to University of Arizona student and brand new Giffords intern Daniel Hernandez, 20, who helped his boss immediately after she was shot; Tucson resident Patricia Maisch, 61, who grabbed the shooter’s magazine; and 74-year-old retired army colonel Bill D. Badger, Roger Salzgeber, and Jospeh Zamudio who according to the sheriff’s department, helped tackle and restrain the shooter.
The president said that “in the coming days we’re going to have a lot of time to reflect,” but now’s the time to “offer thoughts and prayers” and to “make sure we’re coming together and pulling together as a country.”
Speaking in French, President Sarkozy said the French people were “deeply moved and upset” about the tragedy.
Asked if he would travel to Arizona, the president said, “we’re in close consultations with the families who have suffered these losses as well as Governor Brewer and the congressional leadership. There is no doubt we will establish some mechanism, memorial, during the course of the next several days. When we have that, we will announce it. But I think it’s going to be important, I think, for the country as a whole as well as the people of Arizona to feel as if we are speaking directly to our sense of loss but also speaking to our hopes for the future, and how out of this tragedy we can come together as a stronger nation.”
-Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller