U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords remains in critical condition after a shooting rampage at a Tucson shopping center that has shaken the nation and left at least six people dead and more than a dozen wounded.
Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, was shot in the head at point blank range by a man who opened fire during a meet-and-greet with constituents. Among the dead are an aide to the congresswoman, a 9-year-old girl and U.S. District Judge John Roll.
Nineteen people were shot in total, Pima County Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik said. Five died at the scene, he said. Authorities recovered a single weapon, a pistol with what Deputy Sheriff Richard Kastigar described as an "extended magazine." The gunman was apprehended at the scene, but it is not yet known why he opened fire.
The shooter has been identified as Jared Loughner, 22, by law enforcement officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the name publicly.
Dupnik declined to name the suspect, but said he had a criminal background. "He has kind of a troubled past, I can tell you that. And we're not convinced that he acted alone. There is some reason to believe that he came to this location with an another individual." He described that person as a white man, "possibly in his 50s," and called him as a "person of interest."
This is a very tragic incident. This is horrific. Unimaginable. My thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims and their families.
Governor Brewer speaks out on the tragic incident:
Here is some personal background information on Rep. Gifford from Fox News:
Giffords, 40, was just reelected to her third term in the U.S. House in November. An alumnus of Cornell University and Scripps College, Giffords served as a member of the Arizona House of Representatives and state Senate before winning her seat in Congress.
She is the only member of Congress with a spouse on active duty in the military. Giffords married Navy Captain and astronaut Mark Kelly in 2007.
A member of the House Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, and Science Committees, Giffords has also been a strong proponent of alternative energy and border security issues. Her district, Arizona 08, is in the southeastern corner of the states and covers just over 9,000 square miles. It shares a 114-mile border with Mexico.
Giffords has been to the right of many of her Democratic colleagues on the issue of border security, aggressively supporting legislation to increase the number of Border Patrol agents and National Guard troops at the border. Giffords hardened her stance on border security after alleged drug cartel members murdered Robert Krentz, a rancher in her district, on his property on March 27, 2010.
Unlike some Democrats, Giffords is also a strong supporter of gun owners' rights. She opposed the District of Columbia's ban on handguns, and filed a friend of the court briefing to the United States Supreme Court in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller in support of overturning the measure.