THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. Please have a seat. Before I begin, let me say a few words about the tragedy that's unfolding not far away from here at the Washington Navy Yard. That's part of why our event today was delayed.
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.
Now, in recent weeks, much of our attention has been focused on the events in Syria -- the horrible use of chemical weapons on innocent people, including children, the need for a firm response from the international community. And over the weekend, we took an important step in that direction towards moving Syria's chemical weapons under international control so that they can be destroyed. And we're not there yet, but if properly implemented, this agreement could end the threat these weapons pose not only to the Syrian people but to the world.
I want to be clear, though, that even as we've dealt with the situation in Syria, we've continued to focus on my number-one priority since the day I took office -- making sure we recover from the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes and rebuilding our economy so it works for everybody who is willing to work hard; so that everybody who is willing to take responsibility for their lives has a chance to get ahead.
It was five years ago this week that the financial crisis rocked Wall Street and sent an economy already into recession into a tailspin. And it's hard sometimes to remember everything that happened during those months, but in a matter of a frightening few days and weeks, some of the largest investment banks in the world failed; stock markets plunged; banks stopped lending to families and small businesses. Our auto industry -- the heartbeat of American manufacturing -- was flat-lining.
By the time I took the oath of office, the economy was shrinking by an annual rate of more than 8 percent. Our businesses were shedding 800,000 jobs each month. It was a perfect storm that would rob millions of Americans of jobs and homes and savings that they had worked a lifetime to build. And it also laid bare the long erosion of a middle class that, for more than a decade, has had to work harder and harder just to keep up.
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