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Giffords shot in head; federal judge, nine-year-old, 4 others killed

19 shot, 6 dead; suspect in FBI custody

U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head and a federal judge, a nine-year-old girl and four others were killed at a Tucson meet and greet Saturday morning.

A suspect is in federal custody, a sheriff's department spokesman said.

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik confirmed Saturday evening that 19 people were shot at a "Congress On Your Corner" event at a Northwest Side grocery store. Five of the victims died at the scene, and a nine-year-old girl died at the hospital, he said.

Those killed were identified Saturday night by the Pima County Sheriff's Department. They are:

  • Christina Greene, 9, a student at Mesa Verde Elementary
  • Dorothy Morris, 76, a retiree
  • Judge John Roll, 63
  • Dorwin Stoddard, 76, a retiree. Stoddard's wife was also injured.
  • Phyllis Scheck, 79, a retiree
  • Gabe Zimmerman, 30, Giffords' director of community outreach

Giffords, who is in critical condition, was out of surgery by Saturday afternoon.

A spokesman said that Giffords is not awake and talking, despite many reports that she is conscious.

"I can't imagine that she's talking," said C.J. Karamargin at 11:30 p.m. Saturday. "I just saw her 20 minutes ago, and that's untrue."

Ten of the wounded were taken to University Medical Center, Dr. Peter Rhee, a trauma surgeon there, said at an afternoon press conference. Four of the victims there were in critical condition, five in serious condition, and a nine-year-old girl died at the hospital, he said.

Among those injured were Ron Barber, Giffords' district director, and Pam Simon, a community outreach staffer for the congresswoman. They remained hospitalized Saturday night.

"We'd just started the 'Congress On Your Corner'" at the Safeway, 7110 N. Oracle Rd., at the southeast corner of Oracle and Ina, said Giffords staffer Mark Kimble.

"Someone just ran up and fired numerous shots at her," said Kimble.

Kimble was standing near Giffords when the man began firing, he said.

"There were so many people shot, it took a long time to get enough paramedic units there to treat everyone," Kimble said.

Early reports from the Pima County Sheriff's Department said six were killed in the attack. The Associated Press reported that five were dead, and earlier reports said the congresswoman was killed in the attack.

"She's alive and in surgery," Karamargin said Saturday around noon.

"At least five people lost their lives in this tragedy," said President Barack Obama in a live statement to the press. "Among them were a federal judge, John Roll, who has served America's legal system for almost 40 years, and a young girl who was barely nine years old."

The shooting took place just after Giffords' meet and greet event began at 10 a.m.

One suspect in custody

Although authorities have not identified the alleged shooter, reports have named the gunman as Jared Lee Loughner, 22. The shooter, who used a semi-automatic pistol with an extended magazine, is in custody after being tackled by two witnesses at the scene.

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The suspect was in FBI custody Saturday night, said Deputy Jason Ogan, a spokesman for Pima County Sheriff's Department.

The gunman may have had an accomplice, said Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik. Authorities released the photograph of a man they said is a "person of interest" in the case.

Update: The man sought for questioning turned out to be a cab driver who dropped of the suspect, authorities said.

As TucsonSentinel.com reported early Saturday afternoon, Loughner, a Systems Administration student at Pima Community College, was suspended from the school in September after repeatedly disrupting classes. The college later confirmed that report.

From February to September 2010, Loughner had five contacts with PCC police after classroom and library disruptions, A. Rachelle Howell, the school's assistant vice chancellor for marketing, said in a release:

On September 29, 2010, College police discovered on YouTube a Loughner-filmed video made at Northwest Campus.  In the video, he claims that the College is illegal according to the U.S. Constitution, and makes other claims.

Working with legal counsel, College administration issued a letter of immediate suspension on September 29, 2010.  That evening, two police officers delivered the letter of suspension to the student at his and his parents’ residence and spoke with the student and his parents. 

The suspension letter indicated that he was to contact the Northwest Campus to schedule an appointment to discuss the Code of Conduct process and suspension status.  Other than for this appointment, he was prohibited from returning to the College.

Loughner and his parents met Northwest Campus administrators October 4, 2010.  During this meeting Loughner indicated he would withdraw from the College.

Court records show Loughner had two other minor scrapes with the law.

In October 2007, he was cited by the Pima County Sheriff's Department for possession of drug paraphernalia. That charge was later dismissed after Loughner completed a diversion program.

In October 2008, Loughner was charged with a "local charge" in Marana Municipal Court, a charge that was also dismissed after he completed a diversion program.

Loughner is registered to vote as an independent, according to the Pima County Recorder's Office.

Giffords shot 'through and through'

Gabrielle Giffords was "shot through and through on one side of the head," said Rhee. The bullet passed through Giffords' brain and made a clean exit, he said.

"I am very optimistic about her recovery, " said Rhee. Giffords was following commands before she went into surgery, he said. Rhee said he couldn't immediately elaborate on Giffords' prognosis, saying it would take at least a day to learn more.

At an evening news conference, Dr. Richard Carmona, a former U.S. Surgeon General and Tucsonan who is also a Pima County Sheriff's Deputy, said he is "guardedly optimistic" about Giffords' survival.

"It's a very severe injury," Carmona said. Carmona said he had seen Giffords' MRI and other medical reports.

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"UMC was operating like a combat hospital" after the shooting incident, Carmona said.

The intersection at Oracle and Ina, as well as adjacent roads, has now re-opened. The intersection was closed for the afternoon while police investigated. Law enforcement still has the shopping center taped off.

Loughner's videos & MySpace comments

A Youtube channel for a Jared Lee Loughner from Tucson includes videos that comment on government failures.

The last video, posted on Dec. 15, includes text and music.  It includes commentary on "English" literacy,  dreaming, and a new moral "currency." 

"What's government if words don't have meaning," one slide of the video "Introduction: Jared Loughner" says.

"In conclusion, it is my ambition  - is for informing literate dreamers about a new currency. In a few days, you'll know I am conscience dreaming. Thank you!" says the final slide of a video called "Hello."

The final post on Loughner's MySpace page on Saturday said "Goodbye friends Dear friends...Please don't be made at me."

A post from Dec. 30 said "I know how to graduate without a cult ceremony. Please! don't think of murdering."

An earlier message says "...my shot is now ready for aim."

Suspicious device at vigil

A suspected explosive device was found at Giffords' Tucson office, 1661 N. Swan Rd., Saturday evening, while a vigil was taking place.

The device was detonated by the Tucson Police Department bomb squad at 7:20 p.m.

TPD officials refused to speculate as to how the device was related to the shootings. The device was later found to be non-explosive.

Public officials react

"I am sickened by the horrific attack in Tucson today and saddened by this senseless violence," Rep. Raul Grijalva said in a statement. "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."

"All of Arizona is shocked and deeply saddened by the horrific tragedy that transpired this morning in Tucson," Gov. Jan Brewer said in a statement. "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."

"I am deeply saddened by reports that Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Chief Judge John Roll and others were attacked," said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. "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."

"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.  I pray for Gabby and the other victims, and for the repose of the souls of the dead and comfort for their families," said Sen. John McCain. "I beg our loving Creator to spare the lives of those who are still alive, heal them in body and spirit, and return them to their loved ones. 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."

Check back for updates.

Sentinel staffers Maggie Golston, Ray Vaughn Rai, and Maria Coxon Smith contributed to this report.

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have your say   

3 comments on this story

Jan 8, 2011, 3:06 pm
-0 +2

Check Jared Lee Loughner’s facebook and myspace: then notice that Sarah Palin just pulled her page with Gabie Gifford in crosshairs…


Jan 8, 2011, 2:17 pm
-0 +2

Dylan Smith - thank you for providing breaking news and your updates on this tragic event. My heart and prayers go out to those injured and the families of those whose lives have been lost. This is a horrible day for them, and for US, the people of the United States.

Jan 8, 2011, 1:22 pm
-0 +2

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Congresswoman and her family, as well as any others who have been injured. Thank you for keeping us updated.

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Giffords, speaking to Fox News on Thursday

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