Colorado congressman: Shooting a 'shock' to Aurora community

"It is just such a shock to the mayor, such a shock to me, and to the whole community. I've lived in Aurora almost all my life and nothing like this has ever happened here," said Coffman on CBS "This Morning."

"I served in Iraq with the United States Marine Corps and I certainly expected incidents to occur, this level of violence, in Iraq, but never at home in Aurora, Colorado."

The Colorado congressman described Aurora as a suburb on the east side of Denver that is a "great community" that grew from a military community.

"It has a significant military presence, with an Air Force base. It’s very much middle-class, working-class community. Solid folks with good, basic American values," he said.

Authorities have arrested a lone gunman identified in news reports as James Holmes, 24, in the shootings in Aurora. Sometime after midnight, the shooter entered the movie theater through an emergency exit at a showing of “The Dark Knight Rises,” the latest movie in the Batman franchise.

Early reports estimate at least 12 dead and another 50 hospitalized with injuries after the shootings.

"I think they're just gathering the facts right now. As we know and we understand this situation we need to learn what to do to prevent this from occurring ever again," Coffman said.

Lawmakers have expressed their support and sympathy to the victims and people of Aurora, while both President Obama and Mitt Romney limited campaign events Friday to focus on the tragedy.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D), whose 7th district includes most of Aurora, said he was "stunned and furious" at the news. 

"Colorado is not a violent place, but we have some violent people. We are a strong and resilient community, and we will lean on each other in the days, weeks and months to come," he said.

—Jonathan Easley contributed.