Around the Nation
2:30 pm
Sun July 22, 2012

After Shooting Rampage, A Community Looks To Heal

Originally published on Sun July 22, 2012 3:33 pm

President Obama is in Aurora, Colo., on Sunday, meeting with the families of the victims of the deadly theater shootings that killed 12 people and injured 58 more. He'll also attend a memorial service and meet briefly with local officials.

Outside the movie theater where Friday's rampage occurred, there's a makeshift memorial at the edge of a hot and dusty lot. There are hundreds of candles and flowers, American flags and signs memorializing the victims.

"It's a sad time, very sad time," said William Cloud, a local professor, who came by to pay his respects.

He called the shootings a black eye on his home state.

"To see this kind of thing happen just runs counter to the appeal of Colorado, the free spirit, the friendliness," he said.

It's hard to find someone here who doesn't have even a small connection to the tragedy. Some friends of Cloud's daughters were in the theater that night but got out. The theater itself plans to reopen later this week.

A few miles away, glass still litters the alley around suspect James Holmes' apartment building on Paris Street. Bomb squads had to break through windows to defuse the explosives inside. But there are some signs that life is starting to return to normal.

Carolyn Young was getting help from her family unloading groceries and a suitcase of clothes from the back of her station wagon. She was finally able to return to her apartment across the street Sunday after being evacuated early Friday.

"It's been hell," she said. "I have medical needs that I couldn't meet because they made us get out quick, then they let us come back in and only have five minutes to get our stuff."

Authorities say they have defused all the explosives in Holmes' building. Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates says investigators are now focusing on the evidence against the 24-year-old suspect.

"We're building a case to show this was a deliberative process by a very intelligent man who wanted to do this," he said.

Police arrested Holmes shortly after the shooting. He's a former graduate student in the University of Colorado-Denver's neurosciences program. He will be prosecuted by the state of Colorado.

Speaking Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press, Gov. John Hickenlooper said many Coloradans are still trying to process the tragedy.

"It's a human issue in some way," he said. "How are we not able to identify someone like this who's so deeply, deeply disturbed?"

Holmes has his first scheduled court appearance Monday.

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