Hundreds of people gathered at a vigil for the victims of the Aurora, Colo., movie theater massacre, which left at least 12 dead and over 58 injured. Candlelight vigils and memorial masses were being held by community leaders and friends and relatives of the victims in the Aurora area.
Around 200 people, including clergy members, gathered near the Century Aurora 16 theater complex, where the alleged killer, identified as James Eagan Holmes, 24, had opened fire at a midnight showing of the latest Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises."
Candles were seen lit at the entrance to theater's parking lot and in other places where several mourners gathered and comforted each other. Some mourners left flowers and letters on the lawn.
"One good friend of ours in the church has a 20-year-old son who is missing, and his best friend hasn't answered, either. They're in disarray," a non-denominational Christian pastor, Thomas Mayes, told the AFP before the evening vigil.
More than a 1,000 people attended a Friday evening memorial mass at the Queen of Peace Roman Catholic church in Aurora.
People were seen holding hands together and praying for the victims and their families with tears in eyes. They hugged each other and lit candles.
"We live 10 minutes away. We come to this theater all the time. This is our family. This is our community. It could have been me. My mom. my sister. That's why I came. To show my support," Angelika Bravo, 20, who attended the vigil, told the LA Times.
"I knew some of the boys over there. They're all friends; my son goes to school with them. Some of their friends are OK, we just knew one of them is not, he did not make it, we are praying for him insanely," Patty Almond, a 38-year-old, who described herself as "just a mother," told the AFP.
Several other churches in Aurora also held mass prayer services for victims on Saturday.
The Archdiocese of Denver has offered counseling to the victims and their relatives and friends.
Millions of people shared their grief on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter and expressed solidarity with the victims and others affected by the massacre. Along with praying for the victims, many raised concerns about gun laws and spoke out for more stringent regulations for firearm sales.
Christine Scotney, a Facebook user, commented in a post: "So sad, My heart and thoughts go out to all the victims' families and friends at this sorrowful time."
Maureen Roche, another user, wrote, "May the dead rest in peace & the injured heal & may we learn how to omit guns from the most violent country on Earth."
Genny Lim: "I do think we as a country need to reexamine our priorities around the gun legislation. When deranged mass murderers can simply buy ammunition online and arm themselves with assault rifles to mow down innocent people, it's time to take away the gun aimed at our own heads. Such tragedies will continue to happen, unless we as a country regulate arms sales."
Walter Sedriks: "My heart goes out to the families of the victims and to the family of the shooter. Gun control is what we need, not prayers."