According to reports, Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot during a public appearance at a Tuscon grocery store today. There are conflicting reports whether she is in surgery or was killed. ABC reports that as many as 12 people had been shot at the "Congress at Your Corner" event outside a Safeway store, and that Giffords had been shot in the head. Two hours ago, she tweeted, "My 1st Congress on Your Corner starts now. Please stop by to let me know what is on your mind or tweet me later." [UPDATES BELOW]
A witness, Jason Pekau, told CNN that he heard "15 to 20 gunshots." NPR says, the suspect was described as a white man in late teens or early 20s, and was tackled by a bystander and taken into custody after the shooting. Gawker spoke with eyewitness Steven Rayle, who said the shooter was clean-shaven with short hair, and "said nothing during the shooting or while being held down, although he struggled at first. He didn't look like a businessman, but more of a 'fringe character.'"
Giffords, 40, was first elected to Congress in 2006; you can see her voting record here. She's a gun owner and voted for the repeal of the gun ban in DC, but she gets a D+ from NRA. She also voted for health care reform, and called herself a blue dog democrat, and the most centrist member of the Arizona caucus in an interview with Greta Van Susteren (skip to the 7 minute mark). You can also see her alleged "last" TV interview here.
Reporter Matthew Cooper tweeted, "No American female politician has ever been assassinated. Praying Rep. Giffords isn't the first."
On CNN currently, they're talking about the unstable and incendiary political scene in AZ. Previously, Giffords was targeted by Sarah Palin as part of her anti-Obamacare "Take Back the 20" initiative, an attempt to replace 20 Democrats who voted for the health care bill; she recommended conservative Jesse Kelly to replace Giffords. Palin also used an unfortunate "gun target" image as part of the campaign. Giffords discussed Palin's initiative with MSNBC last March, and said, “Sarah Palin has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district and when people do that, they’ve gotta realize there are consequences to that action.”
UPDATE, 2:50 P.M.: Reuters is now tweeting: "FLASH: Congresswoman Giffords still alive, in surgery, nine other patients brought in from shooting: hospital spokeswoman." And CNN reporter Sam Feist tweets, "Rep. Giffords' local press secretary tells CNN that she is still in surgery. Law enforcement sources say she has died."
UPDATE, 3:20 P.M.: the Times is now reporting that one of the victims was a young child and appeared to be in critical condition with a gunshot wound. A news conference is expected to be held in the next hour with more updates. The Post talked to Giffords father, Spencer Giffords, 75, and asked if she had any enemies: Yeah. The whole tea party."
UPDATE, 3:45 P.M.: Times reporter Brian Stelter tweets, "Ariz state senator Linda Lopez tells Fox, 'We just heard that she is responding to commands. She made it through surgery.'"
The Times has a live blog with more reactions to the shooting. According to Rich Castigar, the chief of the Pima County police department,18 people had been shot in the incident and six people are dead. According to ABC, "10 people shot, 4 stable, 5 critical, 1 child dead. Doc extremely optimistic Giffords will survive."
UPDATE, 4:15 P.M.: According to AP, the shooter has been identified as 22-year-old Tucson native Jared Lee Loughner. Business Week is speculating that this is his YouTube channel, and this is a picture of him. Anthony de Rosa tweets, "The aforementioned page on Jared Loughner's MySpace has been taken down. It had a photo of a Glock on a book, possibly the Constitution."
UPDATE, 5:05 P.M.: AnimalNY has screengrabs of Loughner's strange MySpace page here (the account has since been removed). MSNBC reports that Giffords had received several death threats in the past year, and "was among several members of Congress whose vote in favor of Obama's health care legislation sparked vandalism and threats by opponents of the bill."
Regarding Giffords current condition, the most recent update from Dr. Peter Rhee at the University Medical Center in Tucson was, “I can tell you at this time, I am very optimistic about her recovery. We cannot tell what kind of recovery but I’m as optimistic as it can get in this kind of situation.” Eighteen people were wounded altogether in the shooting, and at least five are dead, including a 9-year-old and a federal judge, John Roll.
UPDATE, 6:15 P.M.: Gawker has a rundown of more info on alleged shooter Jared Lee Loughner, including the aforementioned MySpace page, YouTube videos, and pictures. In addition, there's a twitter exchange between Caitie Parker, who claims to be a former friend of Loughner's, and Anthony De Rosa. She says that she was in a band with Loughner; he was "a pot head & into rock like Hendrix, The Doors, Anti-Flag;" when she knew him he was "left wing, quite liberal and oddly obsessed with the 2012 prophecy;" and he had once met Giffords before: "He was a political radical & met Giffords once before in '07, asked her a question & he told me she was 'stupid & unintelligent.'" She adds that he dropped out of school in '06 after getting alcohol poisoning, and was "mainly loner very philosophical."