America

Tucson Massacre Aftermath — Boehner: 'Inhuman Act' Won't 'Deter Us'

A security camera image shows a "person of interest" the Pima County Arizona Sheriff's Department hopes to identify in connection with the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and nearly 20 others, Saturday Jan. 8, 2011, i

A security camera image shows a "person of interest" the Pima County Arizona Sheriff's Department hopes to identify in connection with the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and nearly 20 others, Saturday Jan. 8, 2011, Anonymous/ASSOCIATED PRESS hide caption

itoggle caption Anonymous/ASSOCIATED PRESS
A security camera image shows a "person of interest" the Pima County Arizona Sheriff's Department hopes to identify in connection with the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and nearly 20 others, Saturday Jan. 8, 2011,

A security camera image shows a "person of interest" the Pima County Arizona Sheriff's Department hopes to identify in connection with the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and nearly 20 others, Saturday Jan. 8, 2011,

Anonymous/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The morning after a Tucson gunman grievously wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, and killed six others, much of the nation awakened Sunday still trying to make sense of the carnage.

A federal judge, a nine-year-old girl, a congressional aide and several retirees were among the dead. At least 14 people were injured when the attacker opened fire at a strip mall where Giffords was meeting constituents.

Law-enforcement officials said they were pursuing a second suspect, a man thought to be in his 50s who they believe may have had a link to the alleged shooter, Jared Loughner, 22.

They made available a blurry photo of the man at a store in the shopping center where Giffords was holding an event to talk with constituents.

Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner, speaking from his Ohio congressional district, called the shooting an "inhuman act." He added the shooting was a reminder of the risks taken by public officials in doing their duty.

But he vowed that the shootings wouldn't prevent lawmakers from their responsibilities. Among the most important roles of lawmakers is to meet with their constituents at the kinds of events where Saturday's shooting occurred.

A somber Boehner said:

To the members of the House and our staffs, I ask that you, on this sabbath day, that we keep Gabby and her staff in our thoughts and prayers.

Public service is a high honor. But these tragic events remind us that all of us in our roles of service to our fellow citizens comes with a risk. This inhuman act should not and will not deter us from our calling to represent our constituents and to fullfill our oaths of office.

No act, no matter how heinous, must be allowed to stop us from our duty.

Officials are referring to the middle-aged suspect they were seeking as of last report as a "person of interest."

Meanwhile, the latest information was that Giffords' condition was unchanged overnight. According to the KVOA-TV website which had information from the University Medical Center:

Spokesperson Darci Slaten five patients including Giffords are in critical condition. Five additional patients are in serious condition.

Slaten says Giffords remains sedated and unconscious since her brain surgery Saturday afternoon.

Giffords was shot at point blank range in the head by a 9mm semiautomatic pistol. The round passed through her head according to a surgeon at the hospital who said he was optimistic about her recovery.

Meanwhile, questions about the mental status of the alleged gunman persisted. Internet postings attributed to Loughner containing rambling and apparently paranoid anti-government statements.

Loughner wrote of creating his own currency and of "conscience dreaming," calling it his "favorite activity."

Officials said Loughner was refusing to cooperate with interrogators.

The shootings also spurred a debate likely to last for some time about the prevalence of overheated political rhetoric and the role it may have played in the setting off the shootings.

Pima Country, AZ Sheriff Clarence Dupnik contributed mightily to the debate with comments he made at a Saturday news conference. Dupnik said:

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.

And, unfortunately, Arizona I think has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.

Getting significant attention, for instance, was a Sarah Palin-affiliated web page, now taken down, in which gun-sight icons were placed over the districts of 20 Democrats targeted for defeat in the recent mid-term elections. Giffords was one of the Democratic lawmakers.

Palin's Facebook page had offered condolences to the victims:

My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today's tragic shooting in Arizona.

On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice.

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