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Daily Archives: January 9, 2011

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Critical Condition After Shooting

U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and her husband, space shuttle astronaut Mark Kelly, are seen in an undated handout photo provided by her Congressional campaign, January 8, 2011. Giffords was hit in a shooting on Saturday at a public event of the Congresswoman's at a Tucson, Arizona grocery store that also injured at least nine other people, hospital and law enforcement sources said. REUTERS/Giffords for Congress/PK Weis/Handout

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Jan 8 (KATAKAMI / ABC NEWS) — Rep. Gabrielle Giffords survived a gunshot to the head after a gunman opened fire at an event she was hosting outside a Tucson, Ariz., grocery store.

Authorities said 13 people were wounded and five killed in the attack. Among the dead were a federal judge and a nine year-old girl.

President Barack Obama, speaking at a nationally televised news conference, called the shooting an unspeakable tragedy.

“What Americans do at times of tragedy is to come together and support each other, so at this time I ask all Americans to join me and Michelle in keeping all the victims and their families, including Gabby, in our thoughts and prayers,” he said. “We are going to get to the bottom of this and we’re going to get through this.”

“The suspect is currently in custody, but we don’t yet know what provoked this unspeakable act,” the president said.

FBI Director Robert Mueller was headed to Arizona to coordinate the investigation, Obama said. Federal authorities have jurisdiction in an attack on a sitting member of Congress.

U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), who was shot during an appearance in Tucson, Arizona is seen meeting with an elderly constituent in an undated 2010 handout photo provided by her Congressional campaign on January 8, 2011. Rep. Giffords, 40, a Democrat, took office in January 2007, emphasizing issues such as immigration reform, embryonic stem-cell research, alternative energy sources and a higher minimum wage. Giffords was alive but in surgery at a hospital on Saturday after a shooting that also injured at least nine other people, a hospital spokeswoman said. REUTERS/Giffords for Congress/Handout

Giffords, 40, was among was taken to University Medical Center, where she underwent brain surgery and was listed in critical condition.

Dr. Peter Rhee, trauma director at UMC, told reporters Giffords was shot once in the head and that the bullet went through her brain. He added that she was responsive to doctors’ commands.

“I am very optimistic about her recovery,” Rhee said.

Giffords’ husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, was en route to Tucson from Houston, where he has been preparing to command the last scheduled space shuttle mission, which is supposed to launch in April.

A surgeon at UMC said it had received 10 patients after the shooting. Five, including Giffords, were in critical condition; five are still undergoing surgery, Dr. Peter Rhee of UMC said.

At least five people, including Federal District Chief Judge John Roll and a 9-year-old girl, were killed in the attack, law enforcement sources said.

The shooter, identified by multiple law enforcement sources as Jared Lee Loughner, 22, was in custody, but law enforcement officials are still treating the incident as an active crime scene. The Pima County Sheriff’s Office was taking the lead of the investigation and was assisted by the FBI, Joint Counterterrorism Task Force and the U.S. Capitol Police.

An urgent email message to members of Congress from the Capitol Police informed them of the shooting and advised them to “take reasonable and prudent precautions regarding their personal security at home and in public forums.”

Giffords, a Democrat, was holding a “Congress on Your Corner” event at a Safeway supermarket in northwest Tucson when the shooting occurred.

Steven Rayle, who was at the event, told ABC News a man approached Giffords and shot her before turning his gun on other people randomly.

Rayle described the shooter as a Caucasian male in his 20s wearing dark clothes.

“I went to the side of the table by a concrete post and I looked up and saw a man shoot her in the head. And then he began spraying gunfire everywhere. At that point I ducked behind a concrete post and as he came around it,” he said. “The whole thing unfolded in about 12 or 15 seconds. As he came around it I laid down on the ground and acted as if I was shot.”

Rayle, who eventually helped subdue the shooter, said the gunman had an “impassive face” as he was shooting.

“He did try to escape and I think one of her staffers tackled him,” Rayle said. “I assisted in holding him down until more people arrived. He did struggle. He did not say anything.”

Jason Pekau, another witness who worked at a nearby Sprint store, said he heard 15 to 20 gunshots and saw lots of people running and screaming that the Congresswoman had been shot.

Pekau also said two bodies were covered on the sidewalk after emergency responders had arrived at the scene.

A Democratic member of Congress who asked not to be identified said one of the dead was a Giffords staffer.

Official Washington was in shock after the shooting and statements condemning the violence poured in from both sides of the political aisle.

“Whoever did this; whatever their reason, they are a disgrace to Arizona, this country and the human race, and they deserve and will receive the contempt of all decent people and the strongest punishment of the law,” Sen. John McCain of Arizona said in a statement.

House Speaker John Boehner said he was “horrified” and strongly condemned the attack.

“An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve,” he said in a statement.

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi called the shooting a “national tragedy” and praised Giffords as a “brilliant and courageous member of Congress.”

Giffords Had Been Target of Vandals

Giffords, a representative for Arizona’s 8th District who just won reelection to a third term, has been the target of conservative political opponents in recent months.

In March of last year, Giffords’ office was vandalized just after she voted in favor of the health care reform law. The intruders destroyed a glass door and a window at her Tucson Congressional offices.

At the time, Giffords’ press secretary C.J. Karamargin said the office had received many phone calls with “nasty and rude and hateful comments” from opponents of the health care bill.

Recently Giffords, who supports gun rights, has been receiving angry letters from anonymous sources, ranting about the supposed national gun registry and border control.

One letter received on Dec. 15 addressed to “giffords, obama, mccain and sen. Jon kyl” got personal on the topic of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry, who was killed in a late night shootout at the U.S.-Mexican border.

“Brian a Terry’s blood is on your hands! How many more legal residents of the USA have to die before the border is CLOSED??? Obama I call you out! CLOSE THE DAMN BORDER NOW! Quit pandering to illegals!,” the letter read.

Giffords has a reputation as a political rebel. She voted with the Democratic party about 40 percent of the time, according to Congressional Quarterly, though she supported her party’s effort to pass a landmark health reform law.

She was also one of a handful of Democrats who did not vote for Nancy Pelosi for speaker of the house, during the recent Democratic leadership elections after Democrats lost their majority in the House last November. (*)

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Gabrielle Giffords Reaction: Boehner Sees "Attack on All Who Serve"

Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona's 8th District is sworn into the 112th Congress by House Speaker John Boehner (Credit: AP)

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January 08, 2011 (KATAKAMI / CBS NEWS) — House Speaker John Boehner today said he was “horrified by the senseless attack” on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and her staff today in Tucson, Ariz.

“An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve,” Boehner, a Republican, said in a statement.

At least five people were killed in the shooting, including Federal Judge John Roll and a nine-year-old girl. The gunman, identified as 22-year-old Jared Loughner, opened fire at a supermarket where Giffords was meeting with constituents, billed as “Congress on Your Corner.”

Giffords was shot in the head, but doctors said this afternoon that she had come through surgery and that they were “very optimistic” for her recovery.

“Acts and threats of violence against public officials have no place in our society… This is a sad day for our country,” Boehner said.

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH)

Boehner was one of several senators, representatives and others who made or released statements in the aftermath of the shooting in Arizona. Below is a sample of the statements:

President Obama: “It’s not surprising that today Gabby was doing what she always does — listening to the hopes and concerns of her neighbors. That is the essence of what our democracy is all about. That is why this is more than a tragedy for those involved. It is a tragedy for Arizona and a tragedy for our entire country.” (Read more of Mr. Obama’s comments.)

Vice President Joe Biden: “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. Chief Judge John Roll was a dedicated jurist whose death is a terrible loss to Arizona and to the country.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.): “This terrible act of violence is a national tragedy, and today is a very sad day for our country… Congresswoman Giffords is a brilliant and courageous Member of Congress, bringing to Washington the views of a new generation of national leaders. It is especially tragic that she was attacked as she was meeting with her constituents whom she serves with such dedication and distinction.”

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.): “I am horrified by the violent attack on Representative Gabrielle Giffords and many other innocent people by a wicked person who has no sense of justice or compassion… Whoever did this; whatever their reason, they are a disgrace to Arizona, this country and the human race, and they deserve and will receive the contempt of all decent people and the strongest punishment of the law.”

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.): “Caryll and I send our most heartfelt condolences to the family of Judge John Roll and the others who were killed and injured today in Tucson. Judge Roll, who presided over the federal District Court in Arizona, was an exceptional judge and a good friend. We pray for the recovery of Representative Giffords and the others who remain in critical condition. Congresswoman Giffords is also a good friend, and I find it especially saddening that such a heinous crime would occur while she was fulfilling her congressional responsibilities.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.): “This is a sad day for our country, and acts of senseless violence such as this one affect us all. Congresswoman Giffords is one of our most dynamic members of Congress. As a representative of a neighboring state, I have watched her career closely and admired her work on behalf of the state of Arizona. I know she will be in the thoughts of every American – and in particular those who dedicate their lives to public service as she and her staff have.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.): “This senseless attack today in Tucson is a national tragedy, and all America mourns those who lost their lives in the very act of public service. I join the entire Congress in condemning this horrifying act of violence.”

Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.): “I am sickened by the horrific attack in Tucson today and saddened by this senseless violence. This is a tragedy for Arizona, our nation, and our democracy. Gabrielle never let fear or intimidation prevent her from serving the people of Arizona. My thoughts and prayers are with Congresswoman Giffords, her husband Mark, her staff, all those who were injured, and their families.”

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R): “I am just heartbroken. Gabby is more than just a colleague, she is my friend. She has always been a noble public servant. My thoughts and prayers are with Congresswoman Giffords and her family, the Congresswoman’s staff and their families, and well as the other victims of this senseless and cruel violence.”

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.): “My tears are flowing, and I am stunned and angered that Gabby Giffords was savagely gunned down while performing her congressional duties. I am praying for Gabby, and my thoughts, prayers, and deepest sympathy go out to her family, as well as the families of each of the victims. Gabby Giffords governed with integrity and wisdom. We came to Congress together and I had the privilege of knowing her as a friend and colleague.”

Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.): “It is with profound sadness that the members of the Blue Dog Coalition received the news of this terrible act of violence against Congresswoman and fellow Blue Dog Coaliton member Giffords and members of her staff. She is not only an exceptional member of Congress who has dedicated her life to serving the people of Arizona, but a true friend to all of us who have the privilege of serving with her.”  (*)

 
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Congresswoman Giffords wounded, five killed in shooting

U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) is seen in an undated handout photo provided by her Congressional campaign, January 8, 2011

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January 08, 2011 (KATAKAMI / Reuters) – A congresswoman was shot in the head and seriously wounded and at least five other people were killed by a man who opened fire at a meeting the politician was holding in Tucson on Saturday, officials said.

Gabrielle Giffords, a 40-year-old Democrat in her third term in the House of Representatives, was airlifted to a hospital in Tucson after being shot at close range outside a grocery store in the Arizona city.

Giffords underwent surgery and one of the doctors who treated her said he was very optimistic about her recovery.

President Barack Obama said five people had been killed in the attack, including federal judge John Roll and a 9-year-old girl. Obama said Giffords was battling for her life.

“We don’t yet know what provoked this unspeakable act,” Obama told reporters at the White House after dispatching FBI Director Robert Mueller to Arizona to oversee the investigation.

A federal law enforcement official identified the suspected gunman as Jared Loughner, 22, of Tucson. The official said the suspect was tackled after the shooting and was in custody.

Rick Kastigar, an official from the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, told CNN that six people were killed among the 18 people shot.

Gun violence is common in the United States, which is periodically rocked by mass shootings, but political shootings are rare, although not unheard of.

The shooting followed contentious congressional elections in November marked by heated rhetoric over issues such as the Democratic party-led drive to overhaul the healthcare system and immigration reform.

A window in Giffords’ office was smashed last March, after Congress passed the healthcare overhaul that had been opposed by Republicans.

“The rhetoric is really heated. Not just the calls but the e-mails, the slurs,” Giffords told MSNBC at the time.

In several YouTube videos, a person who posted under the name Jared Lee Loughner criticizes the government and religion and calls for a new currency.

“The government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar. No! I won’t pay debt with a currency that’s not backed by gold and silver! No! I won’t trust in God!”

OPTIMISTIC ABOUT RECOVERY

Doctors said Giffords was in a critical condition but they were optimistic about her recovery.

“The neurosurgeons have finished operating on her and I can tell you that in the current time period I am very optimistic about recovery… she was following commands,” Dr. Peter Rhee told a news conference at Tucson University Medical Center.

Nine other shooting victims were being treated for wounds at the hospital, Rhee said.

Giffords was hosting a “Congress on Your Corner” event — 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.

The suspect used a pistol with an extended magazine and approached Giffords from behind, firing at least 20 shots at her and others in the crowd, television network MSNBC said, citing law enforcement officials and witnesses.

Giffords, whose district stretches from Tucson to the Mexican border, an area at the center of the debate on U.S. immigration, advocates a compromise policy of tough border security combined with a long-term path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

She criticized Arizona’s tough anti-immigration law passed last year, saying it would do nothing to secure the border or stop drug smuggling and gun running. Her Tucson office was vandalized due to her opposition to the law.

Regarded as a rising star in the Democratic Party, she narrowly defeated a conservative opponent and was one of the few Democrats to survive the Republican sweep in swing districts in the November elections.

A gun owner, Giffords differed with many Democrats on gun control and supported the Second Amendment to the Constitution on Americans’ right to bear arms.

Obama called the shooting a “senseless and terrible act of violence.”

The Washington Post said it was not the first time someone brought a gun to a Giffords event. A protester in August took a gun to a similar event in Douglas, Arizona. Police were alerted after he dropped the firearm, the newspaper said.

WARNING TO LAWMAKERS

House Speaker John Boehner, whose Republican Party won control of the House of Representatives in the November 2 elections, said in statement he was horrified by the attack on 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,” he said.

U.S. Capitol Police, charged with protecting U.S. lawmakers and the Capitol complex, said in a statement it had advised House lawmakers to “take reasonable and prudent precautions regarding their personal safety and security.”

The shooting could affect the immediate congressional agenda, a senior Republican lawmaker said.

The House is scheduled to vote next week on a repeal of Obama’s healthcare overhaul, which Giffords backed despite angry opposition from conservative activists in her district.

House Republican Leader Eric Cantor, who is in charge of the House floor schedule, suggested the timing of the healthcare vote might change.  (*)

 

 
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Speaker Boehner Condemns Attack on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords

House Speaker John Boehner

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Washington, Jan 8 (KATAKAMI / SPEAKER.GOV) — 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.”

 
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