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A town hall-style meeting held outside a supermarket in Tuscon, Arizona was the scene of a deadly rampage on Saturday. 19 people were shot. Five were killed at the scene and one died in the hospital. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who hosted the event, was shot in the head at point blank range by a 22-year-old man identified as Jared Loughner. She remains in critical condition in a local hospital, but is expected to survive. Police claim Giffords was the target of the assassination attempt. An additional man, described as a “Caucasian male with dark hair, approximately 40-50 years old,” is also being sought in connection with the crime.
Forty year old Ms. Giffords is a former registered Republican who changed her affiliation to Democrat. Despite that change, Ms. Giffords is not a lockstep party member. She was one of 19 Democrats who refused to support Nancy Pelosi for House Speaker last week, is reportedly a gun-rights advocate, and broke ranks with her party last summer, when she criticized president Obama for not sending enough National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border. She is married to astronaut Mark Kelly, a Navy captain and Desert Storm veteran, who is training to be the commander of the next space shuttle mission, slated for an April launch. Her brother-in-law is currently serving aboard the International Space Station.
Ms. Giffords was re-elected to a third term representing Arizona’s 8th Congressional district in November, winning a tight race against Iraq veteran Jesse Kelly, a candidate backed by the Tea Party movement. During that campaign Ms. Giffords’ district was one of 20 which appeared on former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s Facebook page with the drawing of a gun scope superimposed over it. “We’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list,” Giffords said at the time. “The way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they’ve got to realize there are consequences to that action.” What Ms. Giffords meant by that statement remains unclear.
Ms. Giffords has held several “Congress on Your Corner” events over the past four years, including three previous events at this venue. According to Pima County investigators, Giffords had no security for this particular meeting, despite having a glass door and side window broken at her office last March, an act of vandalism purportedly related to “42 threats or acts or vandalism in the first three months of 2010″ reported by lawmakers. Nearly all of the incidents reportedly pertained to the health care bill. Giffords voted in favor of the politically-charged legislation.
Ms. Giffords is currently in the ICU at the University of Arizona Hospital, having survived a “through and through” gunshot wound to her brain. State Sen. Linda Lopez, a friend of the Congresswoman, confirmed the bullet entered Giffords’ head at her temple and exited through her forehead. Lopez added that Giffords was responding to commands before surgery, but is unsure of her long-term prognosis. Dr. Manny Alvarez, senior managing health editor of FoxNews.com, said the survival rate of a gunshot would to the head is about five percent, and three percent of those who survive “will always have a neurological deficiency, such as memory loss or a lack or motor skills.” He added that the “next three or four days” are the most critical period, and that recovery “could take years to achieve.” On Sunday there was good news: surgeon Dr. Michael Lemole said at a news conference that Giffords responded to doctors’ commands.
The alleged shooter, 22-year-old Jared Loughner, was an army reject who has posted several disjointed videos online, on subjects such as mind control, the currency, terrorism and the Constitution. A picture posted at his MySpace page showed a handgun resting on top of a U.S. history book. Reading material he listed as his favorites on MySpace included Animal Farm, Brave New World, The Wizard Of OZ, Aesop Fables, (sic) The Odyssey, Alice Adventures Into Wonderland,(sic) Fahrenheit 451, Peter Pan, To Kill A Mockingbird, We The Living, Phantom Toll Booth, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Pulp,Through The Looking Glass, The Communist Manifesto, Siddhartha, The Old Man And The Sea, Gulliver’s Travels, Mein Kampf, The Republic, and Meno.
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