Obama to visit with shooting victims and families in Colorado

President Obama is preparing to go to Aurora, Colo., on Sunday to visit with victims and families after Friday’s mass shooting in a suburban Denver movie theater, the White House announced.

Obama plans to fly west a day before a previously scheduled three-day campaign swing that will take him to Reno, San Francisco, Portland, Ore., Seattle and New Orleans. The president intends to continue on that trip after the Aurora visit, spending Sunday night in San Francisco, according the White House.

His visit to Aurora would come two days after the largest mass shooting in American history. Police said James Holmes, 24, entered a midnight premiere of the new Batman movie and opened fire on the audience, leaving 12 dead and 58 wounded.

Authorities arrested Holmes in the parking lot, and they are trying to determine the motive. They said they have found no evidence of links to organized terrorist groups.

Obama expressed condolences during remarks Friday in Fort Myers, Fla., shortly after he learned about the shooting.

“We may never understand what leads anybody to terrorize their fellow human beings like this,” Obama said at the Harborside Events Center, where he cut short a campaign event to speak about the shooting. “Such violence, such evil is senseless. It’s beyond reason. But while we will never know fully what causes somebody to take the life of another, we do know what makes life worth living. The people we lost in Aurora loved, and they were loved.”

This would mark the third time that Obama has visited a city after a mass shooting.

In November 2009, he delivered an address at Fort Hood, Tex., at the memorial service for 13 service members who were killed by a fellow soldier.

In January 2011, he spoke in Tucson after Jared Loughner killed six people and wounded 13 others, including then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), outside a grocery store. In that address, Obama called on the nation to “usher in more civility in our public discourse” as a way to honor the victims.

But there have been few signs of progress on that front in Washington, especially during a bruising election season in which Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have traded insults on a daily basis. After the Aurora massacre, both campaigns said they were removing negative TV advertising in Colorado, a swing state that Obama carried four years ago.

Sari Horwitz covers the Justice Department and criminal justice issues nationwide for The Washington Post, where she has been a reporter for 30 years.

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