Sunday, January 09, 2011

This shouldn't happen in our country.

By PAULINE ARRILLAGA, Associated Press Pauline Arrillaga, Associated Press – 11 mins ago
TUCSON, Ariz. – The "shady individual" showed up at a public gathering for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords asking to see the lawmaker, according to event volunteer Alex Villec. Told he would have to wait his turn, the man left but returned minutes later and gunfire erupted.

The man, wearing a black cap and baggy pants and shirt, rushed by a table separating him and Giffords, raised an arm, and then came shots, Villec, 19, told The Associated Press.

Firing a semiautomatic weapon, the gunman targeted Giffords as she met with constituents around 10 a.m. Saturday outside a busy Tucson supermarket. Authorities said Arizona's chief federal judge and five others were killed and 13 people were wounded, including the Democrat lawmaker.

He also fired at her district director and shot indiscriminately at staffers and others standing in line to talk to the congresswoman, said Mark Kimble, a communications staffer for Giffords.
"He was not more than three or four feet from the congresswoman and the district director," Kimble said, describing the scene as "just complete chaos, people screaming, crying."

Click image to see scenes from the shooting in Arizona
AFP/Getty Images/John Moore

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said the rampage ended only after two people tackled the gunman.

"He was definitely on a mission," said Villec, a former Giffords intern.

Police say the shooter was in custody, and was identified by people familiar with the investigation as Jared Loughner, 22. U.S. officials who provided his name to the AP spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release it publicly.

His motivation was not immediately known, but Dupnik described him as mentally unstable and possibly acting with an accomplice. His office said a man possibly associated with the suspect who was near the scene was being sought. The man, who was photographed by a security camera, was described as white with dark hair and 40-45 years old.

The assassination attempt left the three-term congresswoman in critical condition after a bullet passed through her head.

It also left Americans questioning whether divisive politics had pushed the suspect over the edge.

A shaken President Barack Obama called the attack "a tragedy for our entire country."
Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement Sunday that FBI Director Robert Mueller was traveling to Arizona to help coordinate the investigation.

Giffords, 40, is a moderate Democrat who narrowly won re-election in November against a tea party candidate who sought to throw her from office over her support of the health care law. Anger over her position became violent at times, with her Tucson office vandalized after the House passed the overhaul last March and someone showing up at a recent gathering with a weapon.

Authorities said the dead included U.S. District Judge John Roll, 63; Christina Greene, 9; Giffords aide Gabe Zimmerman, 30; Dorothy Morris, 76; Dorwin Stoddard, 76; and Phyllis Scheck, 79. Judge Roll had just stopped by to see his friend Giffords after attending Mass.
The sheriff blamed the vitriolic political rhetoric that has consumed the country, much of it occurring in Arizona.

Giffords expressed similar concern, even before the shooting. In an interview after her office was vandalized, she referred to the animosity against her by conservatives, including Sarah Palin's decision to list Giffords' seat as one of the top "targets" in the midterm elections.

"For example, we're on Sarah Palin's targeted list, but the thing is, that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they have to realize that there are consequences to that action," Giffords said in an interview with MSNBC.
In the hours after the shooting, Palin issued a statement in which she expressed her "sincere condolences" to the family of Giffords and the other victims.

During his campaign effort to unseat Giffords in November, Republican challenger Jesse Kelly held fundraisers where he urged supporters to help remove Giffords from office by joining him to shoot a fully loaded M-16 rifle. Kelly is a former Marine who served in Iraq and was pictured on his website in military gear holding his automatic weapon and promoting the event.

"I don't see the connection," between the fundraisers featuring weapons and Saturday's shooting, said John Ellinwood, Kelly's spokesman. "I don't know this person, we cannot find any records that he was associated with the campaign in any way. I just don't see the connection.

"Arizona is a state where people are firearms owners — this was just a deranged individual."

Law enforcement officials said members of Congress reported 42 cases of threats or violence in the first three months of 2010, nearly three times the 15 cases reported during the same period a year earlier. Nearly all dealt with the health care bill, and Giffords was among the targets.

The shooting cast a pall over the Capitol as politicians of all stripes denounced the attack as a horrific. Capitol police asked members of Congress to be more vigilant about security in the wake of the shooting. Obama dispatched his FBI chief to Arizona.

Doctors were optimistic about Giffords surviving as she was responding to commands from doctors. "With guarded optimism, I hope she will survive, but this is a very devastating wound," said Dr. Richard Carmona, the former surgeon general who lives in Tucson.

At 6 a.m. Sunday, University Medical Center spokeswoman Darcy Slaten said the congresswoman was in critical condition and sedated after undergoing two hours of surgery.

She said nine other wounded were being treated at the hospital, four of them critical and five of them serious. Slaten said the three others were treated at other hospitals and released.

Giffords spokesman C.J. Karamargin said besides the aide Zimmerman, who was killed, two other Giffords staffers were shot but expected to survive. Zimmerman was a former social worker who served as Giffords' director of community outreach.

Greg Segalini, an uncle of Christina, the 9-year-old victim, told the Arizona Republic that a neighbor was going to the event and invited her along because she had just been elected to the student council and was interested in government.

Christina, who was born on Sept. 11, 2001, was involved in many activities, from ballet to baseball. She had just received her first Holy Communion at St. Odilia's Catholic Church in Tucson, Catholic Diocese of Tucson officials told The Arizona Daily Star.

In the evening, more than 100 people attended a candlelight vigil outside Giffords' headquarters, where authorities investigated a suspicious package that turned out to be non-explosive.

The suspect Loughner was described by a former classmate as a pot-smoking loner, and the Army said he tried to enlist in December 2008 but was rejected for reasons not disclosed.

Federal law enforcement officials were poring over versions of a MySpace page that included a mysterious "Goodbye friends" message published hours before the shooting and exhorted his friends to "Please don't be mad at me."

In one of several YouTube videos, which featured text against a dark background, Loughner described inventing a new U.S. currency and complained about the illiteracy rate among people living in Giffords' congressional district in Arizona.

"I know who's listening: Government Officials, and the People," Loughner wrote. "Nearly all the people, who don't know this accurate information of a new currency, aren't aware of mind control and brainwash methods. If I have my civil rights, then this message wouldn't have happen (sic)."
In Loughner's middle-class neighborhood — about a five-minute drive from the scene — sheriff's deputies had much of the street blocked off. The neighborhood sits just off a bustling Tucson street and is lined with desert landscaping and palm trees.

Neighbors said Loughner lived with his parents and kept to himself. He was often seen walking his dog, almost always wearing a hooded sweat shirt and listening to his iPod.

Loughner's MySpace profile indicates he attended and graduated from school in Tucson and had taken college classes. He did not say if he was employed.

High school classmate Grant Wiens, 22, said Loughner seemed to be "floating through life" and "doing his own thing."

"Sometimes religion was brought up or drugs. He smoked pot, I don't know how regularly. And he wasn't too keen on religion, from what I could tell," Wiens said.

Lynda Sorenson said she took a math class with Loughner last summer at Pima Community College's Northwest campus and told the Arizona Daily Star he was "obviously very disturbed."

"He disrupted class frequently with nonsensical outbursts," she said.

In October 2007, Loughner was cited in Pima County for possession of drug paraphernalia, which was dismissed after he completed a diversion program, according to online records.

Giffords was first elected to Congress amid a wave of Democratic victories in the 2006 election, and has been mentioned as a possible Senate candidate in 2012 and a gubernatorial prospect in 2014.

She is married to astronaut Mark E. Kelly, who has piloted space shuttles Endeavour and Discovery. The two met in China in 2003 while they were serving on a committee there, and were married in January 2007. Sen. Bill Nelson, chairman of the Senate Commerce Space and Science Subcommittee, said Kelly is training to be the next commander of the space shuttle mission slated for April. His brother is currently serving aboard the International Space Station, Nelson said.

Giffords is known in her southern Arizona district for her numerous public outreach meetings, which she acknowledged in an October interview with The Associated Press can sometimes be challenging.

"You know, the crazies on all sides, the people who come out, the planet earth people," she said following an appearance with Adm. Mike Mullen in which the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was peppered with bizarre questions from an audience member. "I'm glad this just doesn't happen to me."
Associated Press Writers Amanda Lee Myers and Terry Tang in Tucson, Jacques Billeaud, Bob Christie and Paul Davenport in Phoenix, and David Espo, Matt Apuzzo, Eileen Sullivan, Adam Goldman and Charles Babington in Washington contributed to this report.


J.Sardina said...

This recent event is not only incredibly sad, but shocking. This is just not the way things should be done in America. If Loughner's actions were politically influenced (the article suggests he was also mentally unstable), I find it apalling that he found that the only way to express his opinion was through gunfire. No matter how far the hostility between conservatives and liberals grows concerning any issue, I sincerely hope it is never again handled like this.

Blake Kraussel hr. 2 said...

America, a country built to be contain morally sound individuals right? The answer to that question is no. The fact of the matter is that we have people in our country who are crazy. This event should have never happened in this great country. In a democracy it is rediculous to think that one must express him self through the bullets of his gun. There were many other solutions to how he could get his opinion out there. The outcome to this story is horrifying.

jwaltz said...

It's unbelievable what happened this past weekend. Our country is based on debate, discussion, and reasonable disagreement, not gunfire and murder. This may be a reality check for some of our politicians and the citizens of this country. Hopefully we can all learn from this horrific event and express our opinions in a more ethical way.

SMiller said...

I do believe this event is both quite sad and very shocking, but some of this shock does come from the spontaneity of the event. It was so unexpected that it took the nation by surprise. Although I am saddened by this recent event, I feel that it doesn't deserve the almost nonstop media attention it will receive in the coming weeks. Yes, the event is saddening, but is it really that much more depressing than when a young soldier dies serving his country in Iraq or Afghanistan? Should deaths overseas by military personnel shrink to anonymity in comparison to the nonfatal shooting of an American congresswoman, another individual who is also serving her country? I think not.

I find it a bit depressing in its own that the media has given this story so much attention when American citizens are dying (not just getting injured) every day to serve and protect their country. Yes, civilians were killed in this shocking attack in Arizona, but civilians are killed all the time in crimes. This one just happened to involve federal personnel, so now it is dubbed the unthinkable "Tragedy in Tucson". If we use the sadness of this event as a standard, shouldn't it be referred to as a tragedy in Tucson whenever a young child or innocent bystander is killed in a crime? I find it astonishing that the media is granting this event such an unbelievable amount of national attention and feel that this attention is not at all warranted for a country-wide audience. Crime occurs all the time in depressing obscurity, and I feel the sadness and impact of this one has been blown out of proportion by the media.

bradysims said...

This is a horrible tragedy! These kind of acts shouldn't happen in America. Thats not what America is about. Most countries know that we are the best country in the world and we do not want sick minded idiots to ruin our reputation. I agree with Blake Kraussel.." it is rediculous to think that one must express himself through the bullets of his gun." That most definitely is not the way he should have gone about the situation. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families who lost loved ones in this terrible event.

bradysims said...

I also want to say that i do agree 100% with Sebastian Miller. It is a quite sad event but he is right! the media does not say anything about the tragedies over sea. Well what i am trying to say is that the media does not put much attention on the fatalities to our fellow American Heroes. That sickens me. Our prayers still go out to all families who have lost loved ones overseas and in this past weekend.

KRodenbeck said...

It is always incredibly depressing when events like this occur in our country. It's scary that people like Loughner exist in the world. It just goes to show that you never know who the crazy people are and that there are always more out there. Unfortunately there is no way to find out who all the sick people are. It is impossible to guarantee 100% safety, but we may see another increase in security in the United States after this most recent tragedy.

GLeGros said...

What happened last weekend, almost leaves me without words to express how I feel. How anyone could commit such a crime bewilders me. It's incredibly sad that some people feel that the only way to express their feelings and beliefs is through gunfire. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family members and friends of those people who were part of this terrible act. I can only hope that one day, no one will find a need to express what they believe through violence.

dboyce said...

It is down right pathetic how things like this happen, especially in America of all places. Violence and murder is never the answer. No one has the right to take away someone else's life over disagreement. America is the land of the free and the home of the brave, not the land and home of crazy people. When we have disagreement in America, it is solved through argument and compromise and that is the way disagreements should be solved. Murdering someone over disagreement never solves problems. It is extremely disappointing and sad to know that these types of events take place inside our exceptional nation that was based off life, liberty, and the pursiut of happiness.

KSASS said...

This shouldn't happen in our country, and yet it does. It is difficult for the government to track such threats to our security before they happen without the help of the people. In this case, not only did Loughner post a suspicious goodbye on Facebook, but none of his friends on Facebook told anyone. This is disturbing, as there are hot lines to call and people who need to know this information. Our condolences go to the families of the people who died, and our hope to the families of the wounded.

Zyork said...

This event is quite sad, yet I do not believe that Loughner was simply mentally unstable. That seems like a cover-up for either a political reason that people don't want to have to acknowledge or they may not know what his motivation was. Our government should not allow people to advertise targeting people like Sarah Palin or Gilford's opponent.

MKonicke said...

The event that happened was terrible and shouldn't happen in any country. It is terribly sad, and I believe no one should be expressing their political views through any kind of violence. I'm thankful that their were people brave enough to disarm the murderer before he was able to kill more people.

DWayer said...

Like everyone has previously expressed, this event is a terrible and difficult experience to comprehend. It is really unbelievable that Loughner was able to do such horrible acts, but what is even worse is that those who knew him were aware of his unstable mental state. I agree with others that also said that it cannot be simply a case of mental insanity, rather a delusional mind with flawed political views. Even though there is a high level of hostility between political parties at times, there is absolutely no reason for killing to get a point across.

JBerlyn said...

This tragedy should definitely not happen in our country. This act of terrorism is much more likely to be seen in other places with unstable governments than in the U.S. this event will be felt by the entire nation as we mourn the loss of its victims.
Without making light of the situation in any way, I believe the attention given to representative Gabrielle Giffords has been unnecessarily inflated. The attack was likely aimed at her but she did not die. The media seems to look past this bit of information and focus only on her rather than the completely innocent victims and their families. Too much attention was placed on the fact that the attack was probably a political statement. The deaths of the seemingly ordinary people would not have been as highly publicized without Giffords name attached.
Instead of dwelling on the fact that the attack happened and looking backwards, I think the focus should be placed on preventative measure for the future. The campaign run by Jesse Kelly on the basis of shooting an M-16 to remove Giffords from office was ridiculous and the fact that his spokesperson did not see the connection was absurd. This type of incident should be punishable and not allowed. Another thing that should be changed are the gun laws, not only in Arizona but in the entire U.S. the gun used by Loughner, presumably a Glock with an high capacity magazine, allowed him to fire off an incredible number of rounds before he was able to be apprehended. The fact that he was able to legally obtain this type of weapon should be a major concern. Another deeply concerning issue is that weapon sales in Arizona, especially similar semiautomatic pistols, has boomed since the shootings. Whether this is because of a desire to feel protected or because more psychopaths feel the need to get attention, it is scary. this tragedy should be used as an example to protect not only future legislators but the people of this country.

EOetting hr.2 said...

The fact that an event like this happened in our country is shocking. Our country is based on debate and discussion as well as peaceful exchange of power. If one has a complaint about the government, they should take it up in a peaceful manner. Violence is never the answer. With the system we have in place you may not be heard the first time. It may take time to be heard, in that time build up support.

eboecker said...

This event is truly tragic. There were so many signs that Loughner left prior to the shooting, and it's sad that nobody called a higher authority about them. Many psychologists are hypothesizing that Loughner had schizophrenia, and again there were many indicators pointing towards this conclusion. It's a shame nobody felt the need to get him help. Hopefully we can learn from this tragedy and try and prevent such things from happening in the future.

nwalters said...

If this horrible event occurred in a country in the Middle East or Africa we would think that is just what happens in those countries. But this happened in the land of the free.It may be a shock to many but throughout are country's history political figures have been either killed or had their lives in danger by bad people. To those who justify Loughner's actions by calling him "crazy" or "mentally unstable" that is a cop out. The man is just another evil person in this vast world full of good and bad people. It is quite simply a horrible thing that in a civilized country like America we still have to worry about events like this. This should never occur anywhere in the world, the political differences among people should bring forth the desire to compromise not to destroy the opposition.

nwalters said...
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JVarsos said...

I agree with everybody that the shooting is a tragedy, but I find it kind of ignorant to believe just because America is "the land of the free" and "morally sound," this won't happen in our country. No doubt there are twisted people in any country capable of doing such a horrid and malicious crime, nonetheless America. No matter how protective and free America is, there are still people who will resort to such extremes. Like Nate said, it is a depressing idea to think that in such a civilized and sound country we still have to worry about things like this (and these things should NOT happen anywhere) , but it's true and we as a country have to pull together and figure out a way to fix it.

Also, the highlighting of the congresswoman and not the innocent bystanders who were killed shows a few cracks in our "morally sound" country. How is it that the media focuses on a congresswoman who was not fatally shot and merely backgrounds the other people who were killed? It seems our country is becoming fixated on the people in charge and is starting to forget the people it was based on, and that's a scary thought.

M. Francis said...

You can't predict crazy. Loughner has a history of crimminal actions and should have been locked up long before this. The media has attributed his actions to politics and our "overly violent" society. I think he did this because he thought it would change something politically, but it won't. This shouldn't happen in America, but you can't predict crazy.

ckruesel said...

I thought that what happened in Tucson on January 8th was very sad. Maybe this event wouldn’t have happened if politicians didn’t run such nasty campaigns during their elections. Sometimes I believe this country would run better without partisanship. All in all I think the government needs to get along because the things that they do or say may be taken in an extreme way by some citizens.

GLeGros said...

As an update to the condition of Representative, Gabrielle Giffords, I found that as of mid to late March, she has made a recovery to the point of being able to talk to her family, and even (being part of her therapy) sing. It's good to hear that she is making a recovery after the horrible event that took place just a few months ago.