A mass shooting has taken place at an event hosted by Arizona Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona on January 8th, 2011. Reports continue to be sketchy and variable. While NPR and HuffPo initially reported that Giffords and six others had died, KOLD Channel 13 then reported that although seven people were injured and four killed, Rep. Giffords is still alive and in surgery. Giffords was reportedly shot in the head at point-blank range. One of the fatalities has now been identified as U.S. District Judge John M. Roll, appointed in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush.
Rep. Giffords was hosting a "Congress on Your Corner" event, which allows constituents to present their concerns directly to her, at a Safeway in northwest Tucson when the alleged shooter, now identified as 22-year-old Jared Loughner, ran up and began firing indiscriminately from about four feet away. He then ran off, but was tackled by four courageous bystanders, identified by name HERE, and subsequently taken into custody. The Phoenix New Times provides more information on Loughner HERE. Witnesses described the suspect as in his late teens or early 20s. One witness, Kristin Ducat, a veterinary technician whose office, Northwest Pet Clinic sits across Ina Road from Safeway, said she heard about 15 rapid gunshots and that it sounded like an automatic.
There is a YouTube channel associated with a Jared Lee Loughner HERE. He's listed as being from Tucson. There's also a Facebook page for a Jared Laughner HERE, which may be taken down anytime.
Local and area media outlets to watch for updated information; as the story hardens, I am providing specific story links as well:
-- Arizona Republic (numerous stories, particularly good coverage)
---- Primary Arizona Republic story
---- Arizona Republic story about Jared Loughner
---- Reaction by Arizona politicians to the shooting
---- Four people instrumental in disarming Arizona shooting suspect
-- Arizona Daily Star
---- Primary Arizona Daily Star story
---- Gunman was going for the Congresswoman
---- Man linked to shooting called "very disturbed"
-- KGUN Channel 9
-- KVOA Channel 4
-- KOLD Channel 13
-- Tucson Citizen
-- KNXV Channel 15 Phoenix
-- KSAZ Channel 10 Phoenix
-- Phoenix New Times
Here's raw AP video of the aftermath of the shooting:
In the event that Rep. Giffords dies or becomes permananently incapacitated, Article 7, Section 17 of the Arizona State Constitution states, "There shall be a primary and general election as prescribed by law, which shall provide for nomination and election of a candidate for United States senator and for representative in congress when a vacancy occurs through resignation or any other cause". This means there would have to be a special election, as I interpret it.
Sarah Palin posted the following reaction on Facebook:
My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today's tragic shooting in Arizona.
On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice.
- Sarah Palin
Rep. Giffords, a Democrat who represents Arizona's 8th Congressional District, was first elected to the U.S. House in 2006. According to Congress.org, allied herself with the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition, but supported the major economic initiatives of the Obama administration. She generally hewed to the center of her party, with a focus on immigration issues, alternative energy policy and relations with Latin America. She opposed Arizona SB1070, but supported an immigration overhaul that would stiffen border security, impose tougher penalties against employers who hire illegal immigrants and create a guest worker program allowing foreign citizens to work seasonally in the United States. Rep. Giffords has also been identified by the Pew Forum on Religious Life as one of 39 Jews in Congress, all of whom are Democrats except for Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), but it is too early to say whether or not this was a factor in the shooting.
The Anchorage Daily News reports that in an interview with Fox News earlier this week, Rep. Giffords said, "You know, actually as a former Republican, you know, I consider myself someone who is pretty in the middle, I'm a blue dog Democrat, and one that is interested in making sure that our country maintains our prosperity and frankly, our superiority over other countries and that's where we look at these threat, obviously our defense budget, our level of education".