UPDATES: 6 dead, including federal judge, child, 14 others wounded; Hospital: 'Optimistic about recovery' of Congresswoman; Was 'Targeted' by Tea Party, Palin; Alleged gunman captured: Jared Lee Loughner, 22...
LATE UPDATE: Pima authorities find, interview, clear second 'person of interest'...
By Brad Friedman on 1/8/2011, 11:25am PT  

[DEVELOPING COVERAGE. LATEST UPDATES ADDED AT BOTTOM OF ITEM.]

Three-term Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was shot "point blank" in the head at a town hall event in Tucson, along with 11 17 18 19 others according to news report. The "Congress on Your Corner" event was at a Safeway grocery store.

After initial reports that Giffords had been killed, a hospital spokesman confirmed that she is alive, and that he was "optimistic" that Giffords would recover following surgery. He said she was shot "through and through...from one side of the head through the other, through the brain." [See below for updated reports as they are occurring.]

Late reports now have six dead, including federal judge John M. Roll and a 9-year old girl. 12 13 14 others were injured, many faced emergency surgery and are were in both critical and serious condition.

The alleged shooter is now been reported as 22-year old Jared Lee Loughner. He was wrestled to the ground by two people during the incident and is now in police custody. More on him, including his bizarre Youtube page, below.

Giffords' husband is NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, set to command the Shuttle Endeavor scheduled for launch on April 1. His twin brother, Scott, also an astronaut, is currently on the International Space Station.

Giffords had reportedly been threatened after the health care vote last year, and had seen shots fired at her office. She also appeared as one of a number of Congressmembers "targeted" for replacement on Sarah Palin's map, where districts were highlighted with a gun sight.

On March 25, 2010, after Gifford --- a former Republican, now a Blue Dog Democrat --- was placed on Palin's target list, she had this to say about the increasing rise in violent political rhetoric:

I mean, this is a situation where people really need to realize that this rhetoric, and firing people up, and even things … For example, we’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list, but the way she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gunsight over our district. And when people do that, they’ve gotta realize that there’s consequences to that action.

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Many more details, updated throughout the day, follow below. LATEST REPORTS AT BOTTOM...

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UPDATED ROLLING COVERAGE...

11:31am PT: Fox , NPR, ABC, others, reporting that Giffords, 40, has died. [NOTE: Later reports contradict this one. Thankfully. See below.]

Fox reports "four others, including a child" also dead. "Lone shooter" in custody, according to "U.S. officials", says Fox.

11:37am PT: Darcy Slater, Tucson Hospital spokesperson reports on MSNBC that Giffords NOT DEAD, "is in surgery".

11:43am PT: Slate's Dave Weigel tweets "Giffords still in surgery, per her office. Still praying."

11:56am PT: Fox retracts report of Giffords death.

12:04pm PT: MSNBC: Federal judge among those shot; Recovered weapon was a 9mm Glock.

12:09pm PT: Roger Ebert tweets: "This ad was run by Giffords' rightist opponent. http://bit.ly/gX09U8" Her opponent last November was Republican Jesse Kelly. The ad Ebert refers to is at right. Here's the text: "Sat, 6/12/10, 10:00 AM Get on Target for Victory in November Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly"

12:17pm PT: MSNBC: Hospital source says "she is still alive and when she was wheeled into surgery, she was talking."

12:19pm PT: FWIW, Giffords' Wikepedia page reports her as a gun owner and strong supporter of gun rights:

12:27pm PT: TPM confirms federal judge was among those shot: "We have confirmed with a federal law enforcement official that a federal judge was among those shot at the shooting this morning in Tucson."

12:42pm PT: AZ state senator Lopez on Fox: Giffords "responsive to Doctor's commands"; Number of those shot upped to 19.

12:46pm PT: Fox confirms Federal district judge John M. Roll dead. Nominated to federal court by George Bush Sr. JudgePedia page on Roll.

12:56pm PT: MSNBC: Pima County Sheriff: Alleged gunman apprehended was Jared Laughner, 22, used pistol w/ extended magazine. 18 injured in shooting. Giffords "expected to recover".

1:02pm PT: Hospital spokesman: "We have received 10 patients. Of those, 1 died (a child). 5 patients in critical condition. 5 undergoing surgery. Congresswoman NOT DECEASED, is in critical decision. Hospital "OPTIMISTIC ABOUT RECOVERY". She was "shot through and through, one side of head through other, through brain."

1:34pm PT: This APPEARS (unconfirmed) to be the Youtube channel of Jared Lee Loughner of Tucson. Includes some very bizarre videos. Here is the one he describes as his "introduction"...


...And another one posted three weeks ago, described as "the final thoughts" of Jared Lee Loughner...


The "favorite books" listed on Loughner's Youtube channel page include: "Animal Farm, Brave New World, The Wizard Of OZ, Aesop Fables, The Odyssey, Alice Adventures Into Wonderland, Fahrenheit 451, Peter Pan, To Kill A Mockingbird, We The Living, Phantom Toll Booth, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Pulp, Through The Looking Glass, The Communist Manifesto, Siddhartha, The Old Man And The Sea, Gulliver's Travels, Mein Kampf, The Republic, and Meno."

2:17pm PT: AP: 5 now confirmed dead, including Federal Judge Roll, 9-year old child.

2:27pm PT: Giffords read the First Amendment on the floor of the U.S. House during this week's reading of the U.S. Constitution under the new GOP majority. C-Span video of her reading here...


2:30pm PT: Via tweet from CBS' Mark Knoller: "Latest toll from Pima County Arizona Sheriff Dept: 6 dead, including a 9-year-old girl. 12 wounded, including Rep. Giffords."

2:49pm PT: On March 25, 2010, after Giffords was placed on Sarah Palin's target list, she had this to say about the increasing rise in violent political rhetoric:

I mean, this is a situation where people really need to realize that this rhetoric, and firing people up, and even things … For example, we’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list, but the way she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gunsight over our district. And when people do that, they’ve gotta realize that there’s consequences to that action.

Slate's Dave Weigel speaks to an AZ Tea Partier who now feels the Tea Party needs to be more careful about what they say. "It's very easy to look back and say, 'I should have phrased that differently'".

5:10pm PT: In late presser, Pima County Sheriff condemns 'vitriolic rhetoric of what we hear on radio and on TV'. Says he not convinced Loughner acted alone. "Actively pursuing" additional, unnamed suspect. ... During recent "vitriolic" campaign, a gun dropped out of angry constituents pants, Congresswoman had campaign office windows broken. ... Sheriff again condemns "vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government" ... Says "semi-automatic pistol" was used for all shootings, which he now says includes 19 victims, rather than 18, as reported up until now ...

5:36pm PT: From CBS' Mark Knoller: "[Majority Leader Eric] Cantor says the House postponing all legislative business [for the next week] 'so we can take whatever actions may be necessary in light of today’s tragedy.'"

6:05pm PT: Via Crooks & Liars: How embarrassing. Fox "News" abruptly breaks away from "Giffords vigil" in Tucson when Fox employee Sarah Palin's name is invoked:


7:07pm PT: Media now reporting a total of 19 shooting victims, rather than 18 as reported for much of the day. ... Firedoglake reports second suspect mentioned by Pima County Sheriff Dupnik "is a white male, in his 50s, and they do not believe he took part in the shooting."

7:32pm PT: Here's some of that press conference I mentioned above, wherein Pima County Sheriff Dupnik discusses violent rhetoric (he did so again in other parts of the presser as well):


DUPNIK: "When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government, the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. ... People who are unbalanced are especially susceptible to vitriol."

8:01pm PT: Karoli at Crooks & Liars has more of the video from Dupnik's presser. NYTimes has more quotes from his comments:

Mr. Dupnik said it is time for the country to "do a little soul searching."

He added: "The vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business ... This has not become the nice United States that most of us grew up in."

Later, he said: "It's not unusual for all public officials to get threats constantly, myself included. That's the sad thing about what's going on in America: pretty soon we're not going to be able to find reasonable decent people willing to subject themselves to serve in public office."

He then added:

"Let me just say one thing, because people tend to poo-poo this business about all the vitriol that we hear inflaming the American public by people who make a living off of doing that. That may be free speech, but it's not without consequences."

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This seems a good place to close this thread for now, for the night. We'll update as warranted, but let's hope this is the last of the noteworthy news for the night.

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1/9/11 10:26am PT: At a press conference with FBI Director Robert Mueller and Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik just now, the number of those shot, in total, was raised to 20.

1/9/11 12:51pm PT: The second "person of interest" that Pima authorities had been seeking yesterday and today has now been identified, found, interviewed and cleared of any involvement in the incident. Apparently he was little more than Loughner's cab driver. So we're back to the original "lone gunman" theory.