A gunman opened fired on U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and at least seventeen other people at a Tucson grocery store this morning, according to NPR. Forty year-old Giffords, an Arizona Democrat and a mother of two, was holding a constituent meeting - “Congress on Your Corner” - at the Safeway grocery store when the shooting occurred. The event had been posted on Gifford’s website. The gunman reportedly ran up and started shooting, and the Tuscon Citizen newspaper reported that Giffords was shot in the head. Other victims have been transported to Northwest Medical Center. The gunman, believed to be twenty-two year-old Jared Lee Loughner, was reportedly tackled and arrested at the scene. He is currently in custody.
Update: After reporting that Giffords had been killed, CNN and NPR then said “there were conflicting reports about whether she was killed.” CNN now reports that Giffords underwent surgery for a gunshot wound to head, and at least nine other patients have been brought to the hospital. Giffords is now in critical condition. Dr. Peter Rhee, trauma director at the University Medical Center in Tucson, said, “I am very optimistic about [Giffords’s] recovery.” Six people, including a 9-year-old and federal judge John Roll, however, have been reported dead as a result of the shooting.
Update: When asked if his daughter had any enemies, the congresswoman’s father, Spencer Gifford, told the New York Post, “Yeah. The whole tea party.” But he said, “We don’t really have any information.” In March, the door to Giffords’s office was smashed after Obama’s health-care reform passed. At the time, Giffords was featured on Sarah Palin’s “cross hairs” map that identified legislators who voted for Obama’s health-care bill. Of the map, Giffords said, “The rhetoric is firing people up. We’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list. But the thing is that the way that she has it depicted has the cross hairs of a gunsight over our district. When people do that, they’ve gotta realize there’s consequences to that action.” Palin posted a note to her Facebook today offering condolences to the Giffords family.
No motive for the shooting has been identified, but Loughner, the suspect in custody, recently posted a bizarre video on YouTube. In the video, text reads: “If the property owners and government officials are no longer in ownership of their land and laws from a revolution then the revolutionary’s [sic] from the revolution are in control of the land and laws.” It doesn’t make much or any sense. He has also favorited a video featuring a guy lighting an American flag on fire. His favorite books on YouTube include Mein Kampf and The Communist Manifesto. Friends say he’s a political radical, loner, college dropout, and pothead who hated Giffords. In his last MySpace post, he wrote, “Please don’t be mad at me … I cannot rest.”
Arizona congresswoman among 12 shot at Tucson grocery [CNN]
Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Shot By Gunman [NPR]
Shot Congresswoman survives surgery, doc ‘optimistic’ on recovery [NYP]
Website believed linked to Giffords shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner emerges [Politico]
Suspected Giffords Shooter Leaves Internet Trail [TPM]