Six killed at US political meeting

0

US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has been shot in the head in Arizona (AP)

An Arizona congresswoman was shot in the head by a gunman who opened fire outside a grocery store during a meeting with voters, killing a federal judge and five others.

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said Democrat Gabrielle Giffords was the target of a gunman whom he described as mentally unstable and possibly acting along with an accomplice.

He said Giffords was among 13 people wounded in the melee that killed six people, including Arizona’s chief federal judge, a nine-year-old girl and an aide for the Democratic lawmaker. He said the rampage ended only after two people tackled the gunman.

Doctors were optimistic about Giffords surviving as she was responding to commands from doctors despite having a bullet go through her head. “With guarded optimism, I hope she will survive, but this is a very devastating wound,” said Dr Richard Carmona, the former surgeon general who lives in Tucson.

The sheriff pointed to the vitriolic political rhetoric that has consumed the country as he denounced the shooting that claimed several of his friends as victims, including US District Judge John Roll.

“When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous,” the sheriff said. “And unfortunately, Arizona I think has become the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”

The reaction to the shooting rippled across the country as Americans were aghast at the sight of such a violent attack on a sitting member of Congress. The shooting cast a pall over Washington as politicians of all stripes denounced the shooting as a horrific and senseless act of violence.

“It is a tragedy for Arizona, and a tragedy for our entire country,” President Barack Obama declared.

Police said the shooter was in custody, and was identified by people familiar with the investigation as Jared Loughner, 22. Pima County Sheriff’s officials said he used a 9mm pistol to carry out the attack.

The suspect’s exact motivation was not clear, but a former classmate described Loughner as a pot-smoking loner who had rambling beliefs about the world. The Army said he tried to enlist in December 2008 but was rejected for reasons the military did not provide.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.