Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head by a gunman at a public event in Tucson on Saturday. There are conflicting reports about whether she was killed.
The Pima County, Ariz., sheriff’s office told member station KJZZ the 40-year-old Democrat was killed. At least nine other people, including members of her staff, were injured.
Giffords, who was re-elected to her third term in November, was hosting a “Congress on Your Corner” event at a Safeway in northwest Tucson when a gunman ran up and started shooting, according to Peter Michaels, news director of Arizona Public Media.
Giffords was talking to a couple when the suspect ran up and fired indiscriminately from about four feet away, Michaels said.
The suspect ran off and was tackled by a bystander. He was taken into custody. Witnesses described him as in his late teens or early 20s.
I’ll update this as news comes in.
Update: Various news outlets are reporting conflicting stories as to Rep. Giffords’ condition; some have reported that she has died, but that has been retracted at this point.
Steve Benen provides some background on Rep. Giffords.
She was elected as part of the Democratic wave in 2006, and has managed to hold onto her seat in Arizona’s competitive 8th district, along the state’s Southern border. Republicans had high hopes of defeating Giffords in the 2010 midterms after she voted for health care form — Giffords was one of the incumbents Sarah Palin’s political action committee put a bull’s-eye symbol over last year — but Giffords narrowly eked out a victory, defeating a Tea Party favorite by 3,600 votes.
The suspect is being described by witnesses as a white male in his late teens/early twenties with a semi-automatic weapon. No other information has been made available as yet about the suspect’s political affiliation or anything else, so jumping to conclusions about that part of it is pointless.
Update II: 3:15 p.m. — The White House issued a statement from the president. Included it was news that several people have died, but Ms. Giffords is in surgery.
Update III: 4:45 p.m. — Still following MSNBC and their vamping as they wait for further developments. The University of Arizona hospital trauma doctor said Ms. Giffords is out of surgery and is expected to survive. Five people were killed, including a nine-year-old and federal judge. The suspect has been identified as 22-year-old Jared Loughner. He is in custody and so far no information other than his name and age have been released.
Update III: 9:31 p.m. Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik told a press conference in Tucson that the final death count is now six. He did not release the name of the suspect, but NBC News and other outlets are confirming that it is Jared Lee Loughner, who has posted a series of rambling YouTube videos saying that he “can’t trust the current government.”
A lot of people, including members of Congress, have expressed their shock and outrage over this shooting. Among them are people who have used terms like “target Gabrielle Gifford in November” during the election campaign and put a bull’s-eye target on her district. The Tea Party groups have been quick to condemn the violence — good for them — but they’re also very quick to say “hey, don’t look at us! Just because we used rhetoric like ‘don’t retreat, reload!’ doesn’t mean that we meant it literally!” And they’re not going to stop using it.
Of course it’s hyperbole; of course they say they never meant any harm to come to her. Okay, I’ll take them at their word, but words have consequences, or to put it a bit more bluntly, this shit doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Sheriff Dupnik at his press conference said it as well, laying the blame on people on the radio and some on television: “That may be free speech, but it’s not without consequences.”
Link to updating coverage from the New York Times.