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President Barack Obama on Friday met with the loved ones of victims and survivors of last week’s mass shooting at a community college in Oregon.
Protesters gathered in Roseburg ahead of the visit, some outraged over Obama's call for gun control reform following the shooting that killed nine people. Obama emerged from the private meeting Friday and said, "Today it's about the families."
In brief remarks, Obama thanked the town of about 22,000 for rallying around the victims' families, and said he pledged to the mayor that the government would provide any assistance it could.
"I want to thank the entire community and the entire state of Oregon for coming together at this terrible time to support the families," Obama said.
"Obviously, in moments like these, words aren't going to bring their loved ones back," Obama said. "But the one thing that they shared is how much they appreciate the entire UCC community coming together, how much they appreciate all their neighbors, all their friends and people all across the country who offered to help, who sent their thoughts and their prayers."
Nine people were killed and nine others were wounded in the Oct. 1 shooting spree at Umpqua Community College. The gunman killed himself after being wounded by police, officials said.
Some protesters who turned out ahead of the president's visit were armed, and said they objected to what they called Obama’s politicized comments on firearms regulations after the tragedy. Some said Obama was not welcome.
"He’s here for a gun grabbing agenda," said one protester, who only gave her first name, Cindy. "Our town is in mourning. They need to heal before he comes here with his agenda."
Obama didn't refer to gun control reform Friday, but he did say the country needs to find a way to stop more mass shootings from occurring.
"I've got some very strong feelings about this, because when you talk to these families you’re reminded that this could be happening to your child, or your mom, or your dad, or your relative or your friend," Obama said.
"We’re going to have to come together as a country to see how we can prevent these issues from taking place, but today it’s about the families and their grief and the love we feel for them," Obama said.
Obama's motorcade arrived at Roseburg High School at 12:41 p.m. local time (3:41 p.m. ET).
The route was lined with people holding signs and waving flags. Protesters held signs that read "Obama Go Home" and "Prayers Not Politics," while others welcomed the president.
Obama has called for gun control reform in the wake of the tragedy. The White House said Obama would not push the issue while visiting Roseburg.
A Facebook page for the protest, titled "Defend Roseburg — Deny Barack Obama," called for attendees to "show the world that American gun owners are responsible patriots."
Others showed up to support Obama's visit, and also said they support stricter gun laws.
"I have guns. I intend to keep my guns. If I have to get a smaller clip for my pistol, I’ll do it," John Poole said. "What we have now is worse than irrational — it’s immoral."