Six People including an US Federal Court Judge and19 injured including US Representative Gabrielle Giffords(D-AZ) at an informal meet and greet with her constituents at a Northwest Tucson Safeway store on Saturday by a disturbed 22-year-old man from Tucson. Rep. Giffords is in critical condition at University of Arizona Medical Center in Tucson. The suspect was shot at and then taken down by some in the crowd. The assailant was arrested by Tucson Police and taken to Pima County Jail. From NPR:
Law enforcement officials continue to piece together the facts in Saturday’s shooting rampage that left a federal judge dead and a congresswoman critically injured in Arizona, and some are questioning whether divisive political rhetoric may have played a role.
At least six people died and at least a dozen were injured in the Saturday morning shooting at a Tucson, Ariz., grocery store parking lot, in which the gunman specifically targeted Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Pima County, Ariz. Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said. Giffords was shot in the head, and the shooting continued until citizens tackled the suspected gunman, he said.
The dead included John Roll, chief judge of the U.S. District Court of Arizona. Also killed was Gabe Zimmerman, 30, the congresswoman’s director of community outreach, and a 9-year-old girl. Two other Giffords staffers were injured.
Comments and well wishes came from Across the country including President Barack Obama who was angered about the shooting:
Gabby Giffords was a friend of mine,” President Obama said Saturday afternoon in a nationally televised statement from the White House. “It’s not surprising that today Gabby was doing what she always does: listening to the hopes and concerns of her neighbors.”
“This is more than a tragedy for those involved,” he said. “It is a tragedy for Arizona and a tragedy for our entire country.”
Giffords, a moderate “Blue Dog” Democrat and gun rights advocate who in November eked out a win for a third term over Tea Party-backed Republican Jesse Kelly, underwent surgery at University Medical Center in Tucson. Hospital Director Pete Rhee said that a bullet had entered and exited the congresswoman’s head, but that he was as “optimistic” as he could be in the situation.
According to Reuters Rep. Giffords is recovering:
“The surgeons I spoke to are cautiously optimistic (that Giffords will survive),” Richard Carmona, a former U.S. surgeon general and family friend, told the Tucson news conference. “With guarded optimism I hope she will survive.”
Rep. Giffords was hosting an event “Congress on Your Corner” where she would meet her constituents:
A series public gatherings to give her constituents a chance to talk directly with her — when the gunman attacked from about 4 feet away, National Public Radio said.
He approached Giffords from behind, firing at least 20 shots at her and others in the crowd, MSNBC said, citing law enforcement officials and witnesses.
The shooting has led to the delay the vote on Repeal of Health Care Law:
The shooting prompted lawmakers in Washington to postpone their agenda for next week, including a vote on the repeal of Obama’s healthcare overhaul. The new Congress convened this week after November 2 elections in which the Republican Party gained control of the House.
In addition according to Politico Congress has ordered security increase on Capitol Hill:
U.S. Capitol Police have urged members of Congress and their staffs to “take reasonable and prudent precautions regarding their personal security,” in light of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).
The Capitol Police, who are involved in the investigation, confirmed that the congresswoman was rushed to the hospital with “serious injuries” and “multiple others were shot as well.” No more details were available.
The Sargent-At-Arms request members of congress to contact their police agencies register their whereabouts says CNN:
The House Sergeant at Arms also said “it is essential” that lawmakers contact local police to register their home and office addresses.
Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villasenor said his department had secured the homes and offices of some unnamed federal officials as a “precautionary measure.”
Newly elected Speaker of the House John Boehner released a statement:
Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) issued the following statement condemning the attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and members of her staff today in Tucson, AZ:“I am horrified by the senseless attack on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and members of her staff. An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve. Acts and threats of violence against public officials have no place in our society. Our prayers are with Congresswoman Giffords, her staff, all who were injured, and their families. This is a sad day for our country.”
Here’s a staement released by Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano:
“I am deeply saddened by reports that Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Chief Judge John Roll and others were attacked this afternoon in Tucson, Arizona. There is no place in our society or discourse for such senseless and unconscionable acts of violence. Gabby is a steadfast representative for southern Arizona and both she and John are dedicated public servants. The Department of Homeland Security has offered all possible assistance to the FBI and the Pima County Sheriff’s Office, who are leading the investigation. My thoughts and prayers are with Congresswoman Giffords, her family and staff, and all those who were injured in this difficult time.”
Politicians and Judges at the State and Federal Level received death threats constantly. Both Rep. Giffords and US Federal District Court Judge for the Southern District of Arizona John M. Roll who was killed by the sniper at the event had threats against their lives. Arizona Republic:
The killing of U.S. District Judge John M. Roll comes two years after he received death threats while he presided over a $32 million civil-rights lawsuit filed by illegal immigrants against an Arizona rancher.
When Roll ruled the case could go forward, U.S. Marshal David Gonzales said in 2009 that talk-radio shows cranked up the controversy and spurred audiences into making threats.
In one afternoon, Roll logged more than 200 phone calls. Callers threatened the judge and his family. They posted personal information about Roll online.
“They said, ‘We should kill him. He should be dead,'” Gonzales said.
In an interview with The Arizona Republic in mid-2009, Roll, who was the chief federal judge in Arizona, said both he and his wife were given a protection detail for about a month.
“It was unnerving and invasive. … By its nature it has to be,” Roll said, adding that they were encouraged to live their lives as normally as possible. “It was handled very professionally by the Marshals Service.”
Washington Post has received the identities of some of the victims of the shooting from Local authorities :
Law enforcement and medical officials in Arizona said that at least 18 people were shot in the melee and that six of them had died, including John M. Roll, the chief U.S. District judge in Arizona, and Gabe Zimmerman, Giffords’s local director of community outreach. Also killed was Christina Taylor Green, 9, who was born on Sept. 11, 2001, and had gone to the event with a neighbor. Two other Giffords staffers, district director Ron Barber and community outreach aide Pam Simon, were wounded.
Our prayers goes out the victim and their families in the tragic event in Arizona.