A President Too Practiced In Tragic Words To The Nation
Go to the White House website and search for "Obama," "shooting" and "statement," and you'll be faced with an unrelentingly grim list.
Newtown. Aurora. Oak Creek. Tucson. Fort Hood. And now, Navy Yard.
Since Obama took office in January 2009, his presidency has been shadowed by at least 19 mass shootings — those in which four or more people were killed.
Five of those shootings, now including the one Monday at the Navy Yard, are among the top 10 most deadly massacres in the United States over the past three-plus decades.
The president addressed the shootings Monday, before the full deadly extent of the Navy Yard violence emerged and made reference to the nation "confronting yet another mass shooting."
His words, offering comfort and support to families of the victims and promising a thorough investigation, had become all too familiar.
Here is a sample of recent presidential statements:
April 3, 2009: Jiverly Wong shot and killed 13 people, and then himself, in a Binghamton, N.Y., immigration center. Police said Wong, a naturalized citizen said to be unhappy about unemployment benefits, fired 98 shots from two handguns in a little more than a minute.
Michelle and I were shocked and deeply saddened to learn about the act of senseless violence in Binghamton, N.Y., today. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, their families and the people of Binghamton. We don't yet know all the facts, but my administration is actively monitoring the situation and the Vice President is in touch with Governor Paterson and local officials to track developments.
Nov. 5, 2009: Nidal Malik Hasan, a U.S. Army major and psychiatrist who later described himself as a "soldier of Allah," shot and killed 13 people at the Fort Hood, Texas, military base.
It was the most deadly shooting on a military base in American history. Hasan, who used a semiautomatic pistol in the attack, was convicted last month on 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder and sentenced to death.
My immediate thoughts and prayers are with the wounded and with the families of the fallen and with those who live and serve at Fort Hood.
These are men and women who have made the selfless and courageous decision to risk and at times give their lives to protect the rest of us on a daily basis.
It's difficult enough when we lose these brave Americans in battles overseas. It is horrifying that they should come under fire at an army base on American soil.
I've spoken to Secretary Gates, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, and I will continue to receive a constant stream of updates as new information comes in.
We are working with the Pentagon, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security all to ensure that Fort Hood is secure, and we will continue to support the community with the full resources of the federal government.
In the meantime, I would ask all Americans to keep the men and women of Fort Hood in your thoughts and prayers.
We will make sure that we get answers to every single question about this horrible incident and I want all of you to know that as Commander in Chief, there's no greater honor but also no greater responsibility for me than to make sure that the extraordinary men and women in uniform are properly cared for and that their safety and security when they're at home is provided for."
Aug. 2, 2010: Omar Thornton, an employee of the Hartford Beer Distributors in Manchester, Conn., shot and killed eight co-workers, before taking his own life. Thornton, who was being disciplined for alleged theft of beer, had armed himself with two semiautomatic pistols.
It was classified as the deadliest workplace massacre in Connecticut, and, before the Sandy Hook School massacre last year, had been the state's deadliest mass shooting.
July 20, 2012: James Holmes entered an Aurora, Colo., shopping mall movie theater during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises and shot and killed 12 people. He had armed himself with a 12-gauge shotgun, a semiautomatic rifle and a 40-caliber handgun.
Holmes has pleaded not guilty of murder and attempted murder charges by reason of insanity. A state psychiatrist's opinion on Holmes' mental state is expected this week.
Michelle and I are shocked and saddened by the horrific and tragic shooting in Colorado. Federal and local law enforcement are still responding, and my Administration will do everything that we can to support the people of Aurora in this extraordinarily difficult time. We are committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice, ensuring the safety of our people, and caring for those who have been wounded. As we do when confronted by moments of darkness and challenge, we must now come together as one American family. All of us must have the people of Aurora in our thoughts and prayers as they confront the loss of family, friends, and neighbors, and we must stand together with them in the challenging hours and days to come.
Dec. 14, 2012: Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 children and six adult staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. He also killed his mother and himself. Lanza was armed with three semiautomatic firearms. Police have said that the school massacre played out in less than five minutes, during which time Lanza fired 155 shots.
This afternoon, I spoke with Governor Malloy and FBI Director Mueller. I offered Governor Malloy my condolences on behalf of the nation, and made it clear he will have every single resource that he needs to investigate this heinous crime, care for the victims, counsel their families.
We've endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years. And each time I learn the news I react not as a President, but as anybody else would — as a parent. And that was especially true today. I know there's not a parent in America who doesn't feel the same overwhelming grief that I do.
The majority of those who died today were children — beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them — birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. Among the fallen were also teachers — men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams.
So our hearts are broken today — for the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children, and for the families of the adults who were lost. Our hearts are broken for the parents of the survivors as well, for as blessed as they are to have their children home tonight, they know that their children's innocence has been torn away from them too early, and there are no words that will ease their pain.
As a country, we have been through this too many times. Whether it's an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago — these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children. And we're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.
This evening, Michelle and I will do what I know every parent in America will do, which is hug our children a little tighter and we'll tell them that we love them, and we'll remind each other how deeply we love one another. But there are families in Connecticut who cannot do that tonight. And they need all of us right now. In the hard days to come, that community needs us to be at our best as Americans. And I will do everything in my power as President to help.
Because while nothing can fill the space of a lost child or loved one, all of us can extend a hand to those in need — to remind them that we are there for them, that we are praying for them, that the love they felt for those they lost endures not just in their memories but also in ours.
May God bless the memory of the victims and, in the words of Scripture, heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds.
Sept. 16, 2013: A gunman or gunmen killed at least a dozen people at the Navy Yard, the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the Naval Sea Systems Command.
I've been briefed by my team on the situation. We still don't know all the facts, but we do know that several people have been shot, and some have been killed. So we are confronting yet another mass shooting — and today, it happened on a military installation in our nation's capital.
It's a shooting that targeted our military and civilian personnel. These are men and women who were going to work, doing their job, protecting all of us. They're patriots, and they know the dangers of serving abroad — but today, they faced unimaginable violence that they wouldn't have expected here at home.
So we offer our gratitude to the Navy and local law enforcement, federal authorities, and the doctors who've responded with skill and bravery. I've made it clear to my team that I want the investigation to be seamless, so that federal and local authorities are working together. And as this investigation moves forward, we will do everything in our power to make sure whoever carried out this cowardly act is held responsible.
In the meantime, we send our thoughts and prayers to all at the Navy Yard who've been touched by this tragedy. We thank them for their service. We stand with the families of those who've been harmed. They're going to need our love and support. And as we learn more about the courageous Americans who died today — their lives, their families, their patriotism — we will honor their service to the nation they helped to make great. And obviously, we're going to be investigating thoroughly what happened, as we do so many of these shootings, sadly, that have happened, and do everything that we can to try to prevent them.