On this day (8 January 2011), a gunman by the name of Jared Loughner opened fire killing six people in Tucson, Arizona. I will post some information from Wikipedia in order to remember the victims.
Top Row (Left to Right): Phyllis Schneck, Dorwan Stoddard & Dorothy "Dot" Morris; Bottom Row (Left to Right): John Roll, Gabriel Zimmerman & Christina Taylor Green
On January 8, 2011, U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and eighteen other people were shot during a public meeting held in a supermarket parking lot in Casas Adobes, near Tucson, Arizona. Six of those shot died, including Arizona District Court Chief Judge John Roll; Gabe Zimmerman, one of Rep. Giffords' staffers; and a nine-year-old girl, Christina-Taylor Green. Giffords was holding a constituent meeting called "Congress on Your Corner" in the parking lot of a Safeway store when prosecutors allege Jared Lee Loughner drew a pistol and shot her in the head, subsequently firing on other people. One additional person was injured in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. News reports identified the target of the attack as Giffords, a Democrat representing Arizona's 8th congressional district. She was shot through the head at point-blank range, and her medical condition was initially described as "critical".
Loughner, a 22-year-old Tucson man who was fixated on Giffords, was arrested at the scene. Federal prosecutors filed five charges against him, including the attempted assassination of a member of Congress and the assassination of a federal judge. Loughner had a history of drug possession charges and had been suspended by his college for disruptive behavior. Court filings include notes allegedly handwritten by Loughner indicating he planned to assassinate Giffords. The motive for the shooting remains unclear; Loughner did not cooperate with authorities, invoking his right to remain silent. He was held without bail and indicted on 49 counts. In January 2012, Loughner was found by a federal judge to be incompetent to stand trial based on two medical evaluations, which diagnosed him with paranoid schizophrenia. Judged still incompetent to stand trial on May 25, finally on August 7, Loughner had a hearing at which he was judged competent. He pleaded guilty to 19 counts, and in November 2012 was sentenced to life in prison.
Following the shooting, American and international politicians expressed grief and condemnations. Attention focused on the harsh political rhetoric in the United States. Some commentators blamed members of the political right wing for the shooting; in particular, Sarah Palin was implicated because of gun-related metaphors in her speeches and because of the website of her political action committee which "targeted" the districts of Giffords and others with pictures of crosshairs on an electoral map. Others defended Palin by noting that Loughner was an anarchist who hated all politicians regardless of their affiliation. Gun control advocates pushed for increased restrictions on the sale of firearms and ammunition, specifically high-capacity ammunition magazines. President Barack Obama led a nationally televised memorial service on January 12, and other memorials took place.
The shooting took place on January 8, 2011, at 10:10 am MST (17:10 UTC). A United States Representative from Arizona, Gabrielle Giffords, was holding a constituent meeting called "Congress on Your Corner" at the Safeway supermarket in La Toscana Village mall, which is in Casas Adobes, an unincorporated area north of Tucson, Arizona. Giffords had set up a table outside the store and about 20 to 30 people were gathered around her when Jared Lee Loughner drew a pistol and shot Giffords in the head. The shooting was caught on video by a store security camera.
Loughner allegedly proceeded to fire apparently randomly at other members of the crowd. He reportedly used a 9mm Glock 19 semi-automatic pistol with a 33-round magazine. A nearby store employee said he heard "15 to 20 gunshots". Loughner stopped to reload, but dropped the loaded magazine from his pocket to the sidewalk, from where bystander Patricia Maisch grabbed it. Another bystander clubbed the back of the assailant's head with a folding chair, injuring his elbow in the process, representing the 14th injury. The gunman was tackled to the ground by 74-year-old retired US Army Colonel Bill Badger, who had been shot himself, and was further subdued by Maisch and bystanders Roger Sulzgeber and Joseph Zamudio. Zamudio was a CCW holder and had a weapon on his person, but arrived after the shooting had stopped and did not use the firearm to engage or threaten the gunman.
The first call from the scene to emergency services was received at 10:11 am. While waiting for help to arrive, Giffords' intern Daniel Hernández, Jr. applied pressure to the gunshot wound on her forehead, and made sure she did not choke on her blood. Hernández was credited with saving Giffords' life. David and Nancy Bowman, a married doctor and nurse who were shopping in the store, immediately set up triage and attended to nine-year-old Christina-Taylor Green. Police arrived on the scene at 10:15 am, with paramedics arriving at 10:16 am. Badger observed the assailant attempting to discard a small bag containing money and identification, which was recovered by the officers. Following the shooting, the police shut down roads surrounding the shopping center until late in the day. The intersection was cordoned off and most of the businesses in the shopping center were closed throughout the weekend during the initial investigation. The Safeway store reopened a week later, with a makeshift memorial erected near the front of the store.
Five people died at the scene, including Chief Judge John Roll and Giffords' community outreach director Gabe Zimmerman. Most of the injured were taken to University Medical Center in Tucson. Christina-Taylor Green was later pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.
When Loughner's parents arrived at their home, unaware of the shootings, they found police tape and police cars around their house. Their neighbor Wayne Smith said Loughner's mother "almost passed out right there," while his father sat in the road and cried. Smith described the family as "devastated", feeling guilty, and wondering "where did they fail?" Loughner's parents released a statement three days later expressing remorse for the victims and saying, "We don't understand why this happened."
THE VICTIMS! WE WILL NOT FORGET!
Six people were killed in the attack; all but Christina-Taylor Green died at the scene of the shooting:
- Christina Taylor Green, 9, of Tucson. Green was accompanied to the meeting by neighbor Susan Hileman. As her date of birth was September 11, 2001, she had appeared in the book Faces of Hope: Babies Born on 9/11 (page 41). She was the granddaughter of former Major League Baseball player and manager Dallas Green and the second cousin of actress Sophia Bush.
- Dorothy "Dot" Morris, 76, a retired secretary from Oro Valley; wife of George, who was wounded.
- John Roll, 63, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for Arizona, named to the federal bench by President George H. W. Bush in 1991.
- Phyllis Schneck, 79, homemaker from Tucson.
- Dorwan Stoddard, 76, retired construction worker, died from a gunshot wound to the head; his wife Mavy was wounded.
- Gabriel "Gabe" Zimmerman, 30, community outreach director for Giffords, and a member of Giffords' staff since 2006. Zimmerman was the first Congressional staffer killed in the line of duty.
In addition to the six dead, thirteen other people were wounded by gunshot in the attack, while a fourteenth person was injured subduing Loughner. Gabrielle Giffords and two other members of her staff were among the surviving gunshot victims.
In memory of the six people who were killed that day, please see two of my blog posts: