Six dead, U.S. Congresswoman Giffords among at least 12 injured in Az. shooting

January 9th, 2011 - 2:00 pm ICT by BNO News  

TUCSON, ARIZONA (BNO NEWS) — At least six people were killed and U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was among twelve people injured on Saturday morning when a gunman opened fire at a public event in Tucson, Arizona, officials said.

The shooting happened just after 10 a.m. MST at a supermarket in northwest Tucson where Giffords was hosting her first “Congress on Your Corner” of the year. “My 1st Congress on Your Corner starts now,” Giffords tweeted just before the shooting. “Please stop by to let me know what is on your mind or tweet me later.”

According to local officials, a 21-year-old man identified as Jared Laughner walked up to Giffords and shot her in the head before turning the gun on others at the event. The Pima County Sheriff’s Department said a total of 18 people were shot, six of them fatally.

At University Medical Center, where some of the victims were brought to, doctors said five patients - including Giffords - are in a critical condition. Five others are in a stable condition.

Trauma Director Rhee at the hospital said he was optimistic about recovery chances for Giffords, but noted that the bullet had gone through her brain. He said the Congresswoman was no longer in surgery.

Few details about the fatalities were available, although Rhee confirmed that a tenth patient had died at the hospital. He identified the victim as a 9-year-old girl.

U.S. District Judge John Roll was also among the fatalities, according to multiple media reports, but was not taken to University Medical Center.

“This morning, in an unspeakable tragedy, a number of Americans were shot in Tuscon, Arizona, at a constituent meeting with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords,” U.S. President Barack Obama said. “And while we are continuing to receive information, we know that some have passed away, and that Representative Giffords is gravely wounded.”

Obama added: “We do not yet have all the answers. What we do know is that such a senseless and terrible act of violence has no place in a free society. I ask all Americans to join me and Michelle in keeping Representative Giffords, the victims of this tragedy, and their families in our prayers.”

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner also condemned the attack. “I am horrified by the senseless attack on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and members of her staff,” he said in a statement released by his office. “An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve.”

Boehner added that acts and threats of violence against public officials have ‘no place in our society.’ “Our prayers are with Congresswoman Giffords, her staff, all who were injured, and their families. This is a sad day for our country,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said there ‘is no place in our society or discourse for such senseless and unconscionable acts of violence.’ “Gabby is a steadfast representative for southern Arizona and both she and John are dedicated public servants,” she added.

Napolitano also offered all possible assistance to the FBI and the Pima County Sheriff’s Office, who are leading the investigation. “My thoughts and prayers are with Congresswoman Giffords, her family and staff, and all those who were injured in this difficult time,” she added.

U.S. Senator for Arizona John McCain said he was ‘horrified’ by the attack on Giffords. “I pray for Gabby and the other victims, and for the repose of the souls of the dead and comfort for their families. I beg our loving Creator to spare the lives of those who are still alive, heal them in body and spirit, and return them to their loved ones,” he said, while calling the gunman ‘a wicked person who has no sense of justice or compassion.’

McCain added: “Whoever did this; whatever their reason, they are a disgrace to Arizona, this country and the human race, and they deserve and will receive the contempt of all decent people and the strongest punishment of the law.”

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin also released a statement on the attack. “My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today’s tragic shooting in Arizona,” she said. “On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice.”

Giffords, who is considered a member of the Blue Dog Democrats, was first sworn into office in 2007. She was re-elected to a third-term this past November.

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