Charges Filed In Giffords Shooting

Federal prosecutors filed charges Sunday against the suspect in the shooting that killed six people and wounded 14 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ). Giffords remains in critical condition in a Tucson, Ariz., hospital.

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GUY RAZ, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Guy Raz.

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords remains in critical condition at a Tucson hospital after yesterday's shooting rampage that left six people dead.

Investigators are learning more about the massacre, and they've released some of the initial 911 calls that went out right after. And a warning: This audio may be disturbing to some of our listeners.

(Soundbite of 911 call)

Unidentified Woman: 911, where's your emergency?

Unidentified Man: Mrs. Giffords.

Unidentified Woman: Hello? Hello?

Unidentified Man: Oh, 911, there was a shooting at Safeway.

RAZ: Law enforcement officials say the shooter was 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner. Federal prosecutors filed charges against him today.

(Soundbite of 911 call)

Unidentified Woman: Was somebody shot then, sir?

Unidentified Man: Yes. The guy - it looks a guy had a semi-automatic pistol. He went in. He just started firing, and then he ran.

Unidentified Woman: Okay.

RAZ: Loughner will be in court for the first time tomorrow. The FBI says another man seen on video at the Safeway store and identified as a person of interest in the case has been cleared.

Our coverage begins this hour with NPR's Jeff Brady from Tucson.

JEFF BRADY: Doctors at University Medical Center are cautiously optimistic about Representative Gabrielle Giffords' prognosis. Dr. Peter Rhee is the trauma medical director there. He says she's being kept in a medically-induced coma. But the good news is Giffords is communicating.

Dr. PETER RHEE (Trauma Medical Director, University Medical Center): But when we lightened up the anesthetics and did our examination, we were very happy and optimistic because, eventually, over the course of the evening, she was able to follow simple commands.

BRADY: Rhee says he asked Giffords to show him two fingers, and she did. He says the congresswoman is not able to talk because she's on a ventilator and she can't see anything because her eyes are closed due to the nature of her injuries.

Doctors say the bullet traveled through the left side of her brain. That's the part that controls the right side of the body and speaking in most people.

Again, Dr. Rhee.

Dr. RHEE: Overall, this is about as good as it's going to get. You know, when you get shot in the head, and the bullet goes through your brain, the chances of you living is very small, and the chances of you waking up and actually following commands is even much smaller than that. So this so far has been a very good situation.

BRADY: Still, doctors say the next few days will be key in determining how Giffords' long-term recovery will go.

Dr. MICHAEL LEMOLE (Chief of Neurosurgery, University Medical Center): Brain swelling is really the biggest threat at this point.

BRADY: Dr. Michael Lemole is the chief of neurosurgery at University Medical Center.

Dr. LEMOLE: If we do run into trouble in the next few days, we do have further tools. We can use medical agents to dry out the brain. We can literally put a tube into the center of the brain, into one of the center fluid spaces, to measure pressure and then relieve that pressure if necessary. But because she looks good right now, there's no need for that.

BRADY: While her family waits for more news about Giffords, authorities are investigating the case. FBI Director Robert Mueller says agents and local authorities are working around the clock.

Mr. ROBERT MUELLER (Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation): This was an attack not only against dedicated public servants but against our fellow citizens, one being a child who was there to learn more about how our government works, other members of the community who were meeting with their elected officials for the first time or who were simply running errands on what otherwise would have been an ordinary weekend.

BRADY: The child Mueller referred to, Christina-Taylor Green, was 9 years old. Doctors say she was dead when she arrived at the hospital, and they were not able to revive her.

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik praised bystanders at the shopping center Saturday for preventing the gunman from doing even more harm, including a woman who has since been identified as Patricia Maisch.

Sheriff CLARENCE DUPNIK (Pima County, Arizona): When the gentleman ran out of the ammunition from his first magazine, he was attempting to change magazines, a woman went up and grabbed the magazine and tore it away from him.

BRADY: The sheriff's office says pause in shooting allowed two men to tackle the gunman, and with the help of a third man, they kept him subdued until officers arrived and took him into custody.

Jeff Brady, NPR News, Tucson.

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