NPR logo Alleged Tucson Shooter Faces Federal Charges


Alleged Tucson Shooter Faces Federal Charges

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III at the Pima County Sheriff's Office Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011 in Tucson, Ariz. Matt York/ASSOCIATED PRESS hide caption

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FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III at the Pima County Sheriff's Office Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011 in Tucson, Ariz.


Upated at 3:34 pm EST — A Law enforcement official said the man authorities earlier described as a "person of interest" in connection with the mass shootings in Tucson has talked to authorities and was cleared.

NPR has confirmed through the Federal Bureau of Investigation that the man in an image taken by a security camera at the shopping center where the shootings occurred has talked with authorities and was cleared of any involvment.

Authorities had wanted to talk with the man because he was seen entering the general area of the shootings at about the same time as the alleged guman, Jared Lee Loughner.

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Law enforcement officials said Sunday afternoon they now thought it less likely that the individual in a who image was captured by a security camera at the Tucson shopping center was connected to the shootings of 20 people which left six people dead and a congresswoman seriously wounded.

"We do not have any belief at this time that that individual was a participant in the shooting," said Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert S. Mueller III. "It is somebody we need to identify..."

Meanwhile, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik provided details on the courage shown by some at the time of the shootings to stop the gunman from adding to the bloodshed.

As the alleged gunman, Jared Lee Loughner, 22, tried to change ammunition magazines, a woman grabbed a magazine from him.

The gunman was able to put another magazine with 31 rounds into the pistol. But a magazine spring malfunctioned. That gave two men the chance to physically subdue him until sheriff's deputies arrived.

Loughner was is federal custody with formal charges to be filed before Sunday's end, Mueller said.

Loughner faced federal charges for the alleged murder of a federal judge as well as for the alleged attempted murders of a member of Congress and congressional aides. Mueller called the charges preliminary and said there could be additional ones.

"It appears that the target was the congresswoman," Mueller said.

The FBI director added there was no credible information that any continuing specific threat remained.

In an interesting development, law enforcement officials said Loughner had contact with Giffords' office in 2007 in which he was invited to attend a similar constituents' event like the one he attacked on Saturday. Mueller said indications were that Loughner attended the earlier event.

Mueller said the weapon recovered was purchased in November 2010 and that it was a Glock 9 mm semiautomatic handgun. News reports said the retailer Sportsman's Warehouse sold the weapon to Loughner.