The Arizona shooting

Here’s the latest we have from multiple sources on the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords and her staff. We’re not going to engage in speculation, but are providing information about what we know as fact. The latest items are at the top.


10:25 p.m. – Beefed up security was observed at an inaugural ball for Gov. Mark Dayton. Several members of Congress attended.


10:20 p.m. – One late update. The Arizona Republic identified the 9-year-old girl who was killed as Christina Taylor Green of Tucson:

A neighbor was going to the Giffords event and invited Christina along because she thought she would enjoy it, said her uncle, Greg Segalini.

Christina had just been elected to the student council at her school. The event, held outside a Safeway supermarket north of Tucson, was an opportunity for constituents to meet Giffords and talk about any concerns they had related to the federal government.

7:40 p.m. – That’s the end of the briefing. Another will be held tomorrow. Here’s the takeaway:

— 19 people were shot; 6 died.

— the sheriff stressed the connection between “vitriolic rhetoric” in the media and today’s shooting.

— they’re looking for another person who may be involved.

This will conclude today’s live-blogging. Feel free to discuss the situation below.

7:38 p.m. – Dr. Richard Carmona, a former surgeon general and friend of the Giffords family, is speaking. He did not illuminate the extent of the congresswoman’s injuries other than it’s a head wound. He said he did not know yet whether there will be any long-term brain damage.

7:33 p.m. – Sheriff: “People tend to pooh pooh what we’re saying about the vitriol by the people who are doing that. That may be free speech, but it has consequences.”

7:29 p.m.– Now speaking, Capt. Chris Nanos, in charge of criminal investigations for the county sheriff.

Q: Did the 9 year old die at the hospital?

A: Yes.

Q: At what range were the shots fired?

A: Very close.

Q: Was he just spraying bullets?

A: I can’t get into specifics.

7:11 p.m. – Sheriff: There are 19 victims, six of whom are dead. One is a 9-year old girl.


Q: Was the congresswoman the target?

A: Yes

Q: Had she been receiving threats

A: I’m not aware of any public officials who haven’t received threats. She had two incidents during a vitriolic campaign. Someone in an angry audience dropped a weapon out of their pants. Around the same time, windows were broken at her headquarters.

Q: Tell us more about the suspect

A: He’s got a troubled past. “When you look at the rhetoric that comes out of people’s mouths, it’s outrageous, and unfortunately Arizona is the capital. We’ve become the mecca of intolerance and bigotry.” This person had a mental issue and was susceptible to vitriol.

Q: Were all 19 shot?

A: Yes. It was an automatic weapon. We’re not going to get into specifics.

Q: Was the other suspect a shooter?

A: No.

Q: Is security being upgraded for other elected officials.

A: No. It’s not unusual for every public official to get threats. And that’s the other thing: Pretty soon we’re not going to be able to get real, decent people to serve in public office.

Q: Was there any return fire from anyone?

A; No.

Q: Did the shooter say anything.

A: We don’t have any specifics about what he might or might not have said.

Q: Where do you think the other suspect is heading?

A: We don’t know where he’s heading. We don’t know who he is.

Q: What was the shooter’s complaint? Was it illegal immigration?

A: I don’t know. He has invoked his rights.

Q: The individuals who tackled the suspect, can you say with certainty that they prevented more deaths?

A: I don’t know if he had any ammunition left but he probably would’ve shot more people.

Q: What sort of troubled had he been in before?

A: He made threats. (Not against the congresswoman)

Q: Was he planning to kill himself?

A: We think that may be a possibility.

Q: Was the 9 year old girl with her parents. Was she a relative of the Giffords?

A: We don’t have that information. This was a chaotic scene and they’ve gone to different hospitals. It’s been difficult to sort all of these things out.

Q: Was there any suicide note found?

A: I can’t talk about that.

Q: How many people were killed at the scene as opposed to died at the hospital?

A: Five

Q: Were all the people who were shot attending the event?

A: I don’t know.

7:10 p.m. – Nathan Thomas Gray, special agent in charge of the FBI in Arizona is speaking. “The events of today not only affect the citizens of Arizona and the families involved, it touches the hearts of Americans throughout the United States.”

7:09 p.m. – Sheriff: “We’re not convinced the suspect acted alone. We have reason to believe he came to the scene with someone else.” Not naming the suspect.

7:05 p.m. Dupnik: Five people were killed. Two were friends of the sheriff. One was a councilwoman. The federal judge went to mass before stopping in to “say hi” to the congresswoman. “I never met a more sincere, brilliant, fair-minded judge in my life. He goes to mass daily and he was going to go home and do the floors as he did every Saturday.”

“Congresswoman Giffords is brilliant. She’s not about Democrats or Republicans. She’s not about politics. All she cares about is the United States of America. Today, I hope all Americans are as saddened as shocked as we are. I hope some of them are as angry as I am. I think it’s time as a country that we need to do a little soul searching. The vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out by people in the radio business and some in the TV business, this has not become the nice United States of America that we grew up in.”

7:03 p.m. -Pima County Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik is holding a news conference. “In my 50 years in law enforcement, I’ve never been so shocked as I am today. It’s a sad day for America.

6:47 p.m. – Rep. Erik Paulsen was in a Young Leaders Foundation program with Rep. Giffords. He talked with MPR’s Brandt Williams this afternoon.

6:38 p.m. – The Pima County sheriff is holding a briefing at 7 p.m. I’ll monitor.

6:36 p.m. – This Arizona Republic observer of media has thoughts on the coverage today:

But what makes it so powerful can also make it dangerous. There are no filters. While conflicting reports of Giffords’ condition were hardly unique to social media – often people just tweeted or posted what they had heard from traditional news sources, which scrambled to get the facts straight – the immediate political slant was striking. Within minutes the shootings were decried as politically motivated, an inevitable result of violent rhetoric. Maybe they will prove to be. Certainly using terms like “crosshairs” and “target” in political discourse, if you could call it that, is idiotic. Those who have used such terms were called out immediately and often. Perhaps this will change the behavior of those who use such language – though anyone who has paid attention to politics the past few years has every reason to be doubtful.

However, people also immediately assigned political motive to the shootings, as if it was a given that the suspect was acting solely out of partisan disagreement with Giffords’ policies. Again, perhaps he was. But to say so before law enforcement has even talked to the guy is, to put it diplomatically, irresponsible.

5:38 p.m. – Here’s a site that has collected details of some of the “premature” declarations that Rep. Giffords had died. The source appears to be a public radio reporter in Tucson who quoted an anonymous source. It’s worth pointing out that NPR’s senior news editor, who normally might make a decision whether that should be reported, was forced to resign on Thursday in the wake of the Juan Williams incident. I suspect NPR’s ombudsman will be working on how this happened.

I had some debate about this earlier on Twitter, with some suggesting this is just the way the new journalism is. But is it? A fact transmits by new media just as quickly as a falsehood. Facts should not be collateral damage. To the extent that information changes quickly, it’s important to ask “how do you know?” in any breaking news situation and, more important, to attribute the source of information to a source. In this case, it would appear, someone who was not willing to be identified was responsible for the apparently false information. That should have been the first clue that the information may not have been reliable.

The truth is: We still don’t know about Rep. Giffords’ condition and, according to doctors, we won’t know for 24 hours from the time of her surgery. Not being willing to wait that long doesn’t give anyone an excuse to create a reality. “I don’t know,” should never go out of style as the best possible answer in the absence of facts.

5:06 p.m. – Background: Rep. Giffords was on FoxNews yesterday:

4:50 p.m. – Statement from U.S. Capitol Police:

The United States Capitol Police are directly involved in the ongoing investigation regarding the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona. We are currently working with Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

While the United States Capitol Police does not specifically discuss the security of Members of Congress including details on our protective measures, the United States Capitol Police has communicated with House Members of Congress advising them to take reasonable and prudent precautions regarding their personal safety and security.

The United States Capitol Police remains at a high level of readiness, consistent with our operating conditions on U.S. Capitol Grounds, and we continue to maintain a robust presence.

4:33 p.m. – Statement from Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-MN:

“Congresswoman Giffords was doing what so many public servants do every day, meeting with her constituents, listening to the people who sent her to Washington. This is a horrific tragedy, and my thoughts and prayers are with Congresswoman Giffords, her husband, family, and the other victims.”

4:27 p.m. – Federal Judge John Roll, who was killed today, was placed in federal protection (along with his wife) after death threats in 2009. He was presiding judge in a lawsuit against a rancher by immigrants, according to Arizona Central.

4:09 p.m. – U.S. District Court judge John Roll once ruled the Brady Bill (gun control law that required sheriffs to perform background checks) is unconstitutional. His ruling, however, was later overturned by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

3:59 p.m. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is speaking. “I am just heartbroken. Gabby is not just a colleague; she’s also a friend. We never could have imagined this could have taken place,” she says. “Pray that we never have to experience a tragedy like this again.”

The representative was in the Arizona House of Representatives when Brewer was in the secretary of state’s office.

3:46 p.m. -President Obama is speaking to the nation. He confirms the death of Judge Rohn Roll. Says Rep. Giffords “is fighting for her life.”

“We don’t know what precipitated this unspeakable act,” he says.

“It’s not surprising that today Gabby was doing what she always does — listening to the hopes and concerns of her neighbors. That’s what democracy is all about. It’s a tragedy for Arizona and a tragedy for our entire country. What Americans do at times like this is come together and support each other.”

The president did not take questions.

3:41 p.m. – KPNX TV coverage of the story (Phoenix)

kpnx on Broadcast Live Free

3:36 p.m.This YouTube account is from a person with the name AP is reporting has been arrested in the shooting. Warning: There is no confirmation that this is, indeed, the work of the individual who has been arrested. (It is likely not since the name is spelled differently)

3:34 p.m. From NPR political editor Ken Rudin’s blog:

What is also unsurprising, but regrettable, is that everyone is ascribing a motive for the shooting without any credible information.

The Internet and the Twitterworld have been filled with speculation on why she was shot: that she was too liberal and was shot by a Tea Party conservative. Or that she was too moderate and shot by someone on the left.

All we know is that the shooter is under custody. No statement has been released, no motive revealed. Self-anointed “journalists” should keep such opinions to themselves until we know more.

3:28 p.m. – Statement from Sen. John McCain, R-AZ:

“I am horrified by the violent attack on Representative Gabrielle Giffords and many other innocent people by a wicked person who has no sense of justice or compassion. 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.

“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.”

3:25 p.m. – Pima County law enforcement officials say the alleged shooter is 22 years old and has had only one run-in with the law since 18, AZCENTRAL.COM reports.

3:23 p.m. – Surgeon in Tucson says Rep. Giffords is “understanding commands.” The bullet exited her head, he said.

3:21 p.m. – Rep. Giffords on election night:

3:14 p.m. – The person arrested in the shooting is Jared Laughner of Arizona, Justice Department officials say.

3:07 p.m.


3:00 p.m. – A doctor at University Medical Center in Tucson hospital his hospital has 10 patients. One has died. Five are critical. Five are in the operating room. Rep. Giffords is out of surgery. The doctor says he’s “very optimistic” about her prognosis. The dead person was a 9 year old child.

2:56 p.m. – U.S. Judge John Roll is reportedly one of those killed. He had recently called for a delay in trials for people accused of felonies because of overworked courts in Arizona.

2:54 p.m. – A spokesman for the sheriff (Pima County) says there will be a news conference at 5 p.m. CT. Death toll remains at 6. Rep. Giffords is in surgery.

2:47 p.m.– This graphic, posted on Sara Palin’s PAC website, is being criticized after the shooting as an example of rhetoric that heightened emotions in the fall campaign. There is, as yet, no indication from authorities on a motive for today’s attack:


The graphic was controversial during the campaign.

2:43 p.m. – Statement from President Obama:

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

“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.”

2:37 p.m. – Rep. Giffords posted this image on her Flickr page last fall, while in the middle of a heated campaign with a tea party member.


“Gabrielle Giffords owns a Glock handgun, and as a two-term Democratic congresswoman representing a swing district in Arizona’s rugged southeast, she may need one Newsweek quipped in a profile of “gun runners” in the runup to the election of 2008.

2:34 p.m. – Six people are dead. Eighteen people were shot. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is at this point listed as “gravely injured.” One person is in custody.”