AZ Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords Shot, Six Killed in Shooting Includes Judge and Child

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Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, 40, was shot in the head at close range earlier today at a public event outside a Safeway in Tuscon. The three-term Democratic Congresswoman was participating in “Congress on Your Corner,” an open event meant for her constituents, when a gunman raced up and began shooting a semi-automatic weapon. Possibly up to 12 others, including members of her staff, were injured, and KOLD reports five people have died. The shooter, described in reports as a white male in his early 20s, was tackled by a bystander, and is now reportedly in custody, though the motive is unclear. According to a witness, the shooter allegedly approached her from behind and shot her in the head from about a foot away. Giffords was airlifted to University Medical Center. Her condition is currently unknown, butaccording to a CNN bystander, her injuries are “pretty serious.”

In 2006, Giffords was the youngest woman elected to Congress. She was known for being incredibly involved in the community, going home every weekend to keep in touch with her constituents. In 2007, she married astronaut and Navy pilot Mark Kelly, in a ceremony that was profiled by the New York Times' Vows section. Giffords is the only member of Congress whose spouse is on active duty.

Stream live local coverage of the shooting here.

8:30 PM. Sheriff Dupnik on rhetoric and people who “make their living” off it: “That may be free speech, but it's not without consequences.” Remember this man's name.

8:12 PM. Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik confirms that Giffords was the target of the shooting... and calls Arizona the “mecca for prejudice and bigotry.” Of Loughner: “There's evidence this individual had a mental illness... and these individuals are particularly susceptible to” this type of rhetoric, which he condemns. Interesting... does that mean Loughner said something about the rhetoric in police questioning? “There have been law enforcement contacts with the individual where he made threats.” The suspect also tried to enlist in the military, but was rejected for undisclosed reasons. The number of victims who died in the shootings is now up to six.

8:09 PM. Tuscon sheriff on Loughner: “We're not convinced that he acted alone.” Loughner apparently arrived at the site of the shooting with someone else. Authorities have his photograph and are currently looking for him.

8:01 PM. Keith Olbermann is reporting that a “suspicious package” was found outside Giffords' office, and that the Tuscon bomb squad is investigating. Eric Cantor is postponing all Congressional business for the following week.

7:40 PM. “I wish every house of worship tomorrow would pray for our climate of violence,” says the Rev. Al Sharpton on MSNBC, and says he knew Judge Roll from his work on immigration issues. “We must always keep a climate of discourse, even if we disagree.”

7:38 PM. Keith Olbermann's Countdown will air at 8 PM EST, as another brief comes in from law enforcement and hospital officials. Olbermann tweets that they will air it live and that the Special Comment will focus on toning down the insane rhetoric and the “urgency of all sides repudiating & apologizing for past invocations of violence.”

7:35 PM. Loughner is being “somewhat cooperative” with Tuscon police, according to MSNBC, though no insight into motive has been revealed.

7:22 PM. Rebecca Traister has written a paean to Giffords and what she represents for the future of women in politics: she “represents much that is revolutionary and hopeful about the changing face of American politics, as well as about the new and varied paths and possibilities available to women.”

7:01 PM. NY Rep. Eliot Engel, interviewed on The Ed Show: “the dialogue has got to be turned down.” In a Spring 2010 interview, after the front door to her office was smashed right after the health care vote, Giffords herself said essentially the same thing. Watch:

 

 

7:01 PM. Tuscon-based AZ State Rep. Daniel Patterson, interviewed in the Tuscon Weekly, points out that while we do not know the alleged shooter's motive, the insane, inflammatory rhetoric needs to stop immediately.

"... We don’t know what the shooter's motive was, but people, especially elected officials, need to pay attention to what they say.

"'Second amendment remedies,' Sharon Angle—that is reckless and irresponsible to even suggest that it would be OK to use violence about any concern with any elected official.

"It’s a concern to a lot of us. ... I’ve had eight different town hall events myself. Think about that: You can be at an event, trying to be available, and someone is going to attack you. It could have a chilling effect on the willingness (of) elected officials. ... I don’t intend to run and hide, but I’ll have to be a lot more careful about how we put ourselves out there."

6:56 PM. In San Francisco, Nancy Pelosi called for a moment of silence for a planned charitable event.

6:54 PM. Vice President Joe Biden has released a statement on today's events.

We do not yet know the motivation behind these shootings. But what we do know is that there is simply no justification, no rationale for such senseless and appalling violence in our society...

Gabby is one of the finest members of Congress I know. She is a principled leader and a consensus-builder. She has spent her time in office working her heart out to improve the lives of the people she represents. And she loves her husband and family above all else. On this tragic day, Jill and I are praying for Gabby's recovery, and we hold her family in our hearts.

6:24 PM. According to MSNBC, Loughner's neighbors describe him as “anti-social” and “a loner.”

5:44 PM. There will be a candlelight vigil on the steps of the AZ state capital for the shooting victims at 6 PM MST. Also, Keith Olbermann tweeted that he is broadcasting a special Special Comment tonight.

5:19 PM. MSNBC reports that doctors say Giffords is awake and now responding to some of their commands, and that Mark Kelly, her husband, has arrived at the hospital.

5:04 PM. Jared Loughner was arrested in 2008 for a “local charge.”

4:59 PM. Giffords' appeal is broad and bipartisan -- AZ Governor Jan Brewer is singing her praises in a press conference. She, too, calls her “a friend.”

4:54 PM. Caitie Parker claims to have known the alleged shooter and is tweeting with Reuters' Anthony De Rosa. He was a political radical & met Giffords once before in '07, asked her a question & he told me she was "stupid & unintelligent."

4:46 PM. President Obama is speaking from the White House. He says he has spoken to AZ Gov. Jan Brewer and has offered full federal assistance. “Gabbie Giffords is a friend of mine,” he says, and praises her efforts in Congress, saying she was “well-liked” by her cohorts and constituents. “It's a tragedy for Arizona and a tragedy for our country.” He says “I know Gabbie is as tough as they come.”

4:43 PM. MSNBC reports that Giffords' husband, Mark Kelly, has just landed in Tuscon on a NASA jet. His brother, who is currently on a space shuttle, has been notified of the shooting. President Obama is expected to make a statement from the White House shortly.

4:30 PM. Jared Lee Loughner's YouTube page is still up here. His MySpace page was taken down, but images of it are viewable here. In one of his videos, he typed, “You could call me a terrorist.”

4:00 PM. The University Medical Center is now having a press conference. Of ten patients brought in to the hospital from the scene, one died -- a nine-year-old girl. Five are in critical condition and five are currently undergoing surgery. Neurosurgeons have finished operating on Giffords, but the reporting surgeon is “about as optimistic as I can be in this situation.” She was shot “through and through,” which means the bullet went through her brain.

3:49 PM.The Pima County Arizona Sheriff's Office is having a press conference. The shooter, Jared Loughner, 22, is in custody, and has had “very limited” run-ins with the police. He was using a “pistol with an extended magazine,” and the local police as well as the FBI is looking into whether he'd made any threats to Giffords previously, and whether he acted alone. Eighteen people were injured, including a child. Deputy Rich Kastigar says they do not know how he traveled to the scene, and that the first 911 call came in eleven minutes after 10 AM, after which “many, many” more calls came in. He said there were many federal employees present at the event.

3:47 PM. The hospital has said Giffords is now in critical condition, but according to the deputy city manager, doctors say she is expected to pull through.

3:36 PM. KVOA reports that John M. Roll, chief judge of Arizona courts, was one of the shooting victims.

3:20 PM. Nancy Pelosi calls Giffords “courageous” and the shooting “a national tragedy.”

3:18 PM. President Obama has released a statement.

This morning, in an unspeakable tragedy, a number of Americans were shot in Tuscon, Arizona, at a constituent meeting with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.  And while we are continuing to receive information, we know that some have passed away, and that Representative Giffords is gravely wounded.

We do not yet have all the answers.  What we do know is that such a senseless and terrible act of violence has no place in a free society.  I ask all Americans to join me and Michelle in keeping Representative Giffords, the victims of this tragedy, and their families in our prayers.

3:17 PM. MSNBC reports that when Giffords was being rolled into surgery, she was talking.

2:51 PM. According to a hospital spokesperson, Giffords is alive and in surgery.

2:49 PM. There are many conflicting reports as to whether Giffords has died. CNN, NPR and Reuters initially said she had died, but retracted their reports. MSNBC says she is currently undergoing surgery for her wounds.

2:36 PM. Rep. Giffords was one of 20 members of Congress published on Sarah Palin's “hit list,” demarcated by an actual gun target. Moments ago the image was on her site, but it's since been taken down. The graphic is republished here, however. Palin was opposed to the Congress members because of their support of the health care bill. Further, during the November election, her opponent also ran with the 'target' rhetoric, advertising a rally with the phrase, “Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office/Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly.”

AlterNet / By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Posted at January 8, 2011, 7:44am