US President Barack Obama said he hugged and "shed tears" today with survivors of the Colorado shooting and relatives of the dead, saying the entire country is "thinking about them."
"You see young people who have come in and just two days ago or 36 hours ago or even 24 hours ago, it wasn't certain whether they would make it and now suddenly their eyes are open, they are alert, and they are talking and it reminds you that even in the darkest of days... life continues," he told reporters after meeting victims at a hospital in Aurora.
"I come to them not so much as president as I do as a father and as a husband," Obama said, visibly holding back the tears even as he addressed reporters after consoling the survivors and the relatives of those killed.
The president described the shooting incident, which left 12 people dead and 58 injured at a local movie theater on Friday, as an "evil act."
But he said the attention surrounding the shooter "will fade away and in the end, after he has felt the full force of our justice system, what will be remembered are the good people who were impacted by this tragedy."
Despite welling up, the president fought back his tears and tried to give an upbeat message in a press conference televised live across America.
Obama ended his remarks by recounting one particular tale of heroism he was told by 19-year-old Allie Young and her friend Stephanie Davies.
"When the gunman initially came in and threw the canisters, he threw them only a few feet away from Allie and Stephanie who were sitting there watching the film," he said.
"Allie stood up seeing that she might need to do something or at least warn the other people who were there... and she was shot in the neck and it punctured a vein and immediately she started squirting blood.
"Apparently as she dropped down on the floor, Stephanie, 21 years old, had the presence of mind to drop down on the ground with her, pull her out of the aisle, place her fingers over where Allie had been wounded and applied pressure the entire time while the gunman was still shooting."
Obama said that although Allie told Stephanie she needed to run, Stephanie refused to go and instead called 911 with her one remaining hand on her cell phone.
Once the SWAT team arrived and the shooter had been apprehended, Stephanie then helped others to carry Allie across two parking lots to the ambulance.
"And because of Stephanie's timely actions, I just had a conversation with Allie downstairs and she is going to be fine," Obama said.
"I don't know how many people at any age would have the presence of mind that Stephanie did or the courage that Allie showed.
"And so as tragic the circumstances of what we've seen today are, as heartbreaking as it is for the families, it's worth us spending most of our time reflecting on young Americans like Allie and Stephanie," he said.
"Because they represent what's best in us and they assure us that out of this darkness, a brighter day is going to come."