Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords Fighting for Life after Tucson Mass Shooting; At Least 5 Dead
Gabrielle Giffords, a United States Congresswoman from Arizona, was shot this morning at an event at a Tucson supermarket. Local authorities say at least five people, including a nine-year-old child and a federal judge, were shot and killed by a gunman who is in police custody.
Giffords, 40, a three-term Democrat and the first Jewish congresswoman from Arizona, represents that state’s 8th Congressional District. Ironically, just two days ago, during a reading of the US Constitution by the incoming 112th Congress, Giffords read an excerpt of the First Amendment concerning “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
Today, she was hosting an event called “Congress on Your Corner” at a Tucson Safeway supermarket, when a gunman, identified as 22-year-old Jared Loughner, reportedly ran up to her from behind and shot her in the head. Bystanders reportedly tackled Loughner to the ground before police apprehended him, but not before he had shot eighteen people, six of them fatally.
Killed in the shooting attack were a nine-year-old girl, Chief Judge John M. Roll of the U.S. District Court of Arizona, and at least three other people. Judge Roll had received over 200 threatening calls, including many death threats, after a controversial 2009 ruling that allowed a group of illegal immigrants to sue an Arizona rancher for millions of dollars in a civil rights suit. Roll was excoriated by right-wing pundits and radio personalities for his ruling. He and his wife were given a US Marshall security detail for a month.
Rep. Giffords was reportedly responsive as she was rushed to a nearby hospital. She is reportedly in critical condition, fighting for her life. She is reportedly out of surgery and is now in recovery in an intensive care unit at the Tucson Medical Center.
Rep. Giffords had experienced some scary brushes with danger before. A gun was left at a 2009 town hall event at a different Safeway store. Her Tucson office was vandalized last year after her vote for President Obama’s health care reform bill.
Chillingly, Tea Party congressional candidate Jessie Kelly held an anti-Giffords event last June called “Get on Target for Victory in November- Help Remove Gabrielle Giffords from Office, Shoot a fully-automatic M16 with Jessie Kelly.”
Rep. Giffords was also on former Alaska governor and 2008 Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s self-described “target list,” an unfortunate choice of words that might teach her that there can be deadly consequences for flippantly employing militant vocabulary in political discourse.