U.S. Congresswoman critical after shooting attack

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Old 09-Jan-2011
U.S. Congresswoman critical after shooting attack

Washington January 9:

A U.S. Congresswoman was struggling for her life at an Arizona hospital following a shooting incident at a public event in Tuscon that killed at least six persons and injured several others.

Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords was holding a public meeting at a Safeway grocery store in Tuscon, Arizona, when the incident happened. John Roll, a federal judge from Arizona, was among those killed in the shootout. The incident has sent shock waves across the country. Terming it as an unspeakable tragedy, US President Barack Obama described the incident as “a senseless and terrible act of violence that has no place in a free society.”

Initial media reports said that the lawmaker had died, but later doctors said that she was in critical condition. A Tuscon hospital doctor later told news reporters that he was “optimistic” that the 40-year-old lawmaker would recover from her injuries. “We cannot tell what kind of recovery but I’m as optimistic as it can get in this kind of situation,” he said. Law enforcement agencies, later, identified the assailant as Jared Lee Lougher.

Eyewitnesses described him as a young white man who looked like a “fringe character,” in his mid-to-late 20s, clean-shaven with short hair and wearing dark clothing. He reportedly shot the Congresswoman point blank in her head. The assailant attempted to flee, but was overpowered by Giffords’ staff and others present at the function. “There is no place in our society or discourse for such senseless and unconscionable acts of violence. Gabby is a steadfast representative for southern Arizona and both she and John are dedicated public servants,” US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said

Napolitano said the Department of Homeland Security has offered all possible assistance to the FBI and the Pima County Sheriff’s Office, who are leading the investigation. The shooting incident was widely condemned by US lawmakers. “This is a sad day for our country, and acts of senseless violence such as this one affect us all. Congresswoman Giffords is one of our most dynamic members of Congress,” Senator Harry Reid said in a statement.

“Our form of government, like all human things, is imperfect and flawed; but one of its greatest virtues is its power to resolve questions of the greatest import without violence. An attack on a member of that government-of whatever party or whatever views-is an attack on that principle, in which every American has a stake,” Congressman Steny H Hoyer said. NASA Administrator Charles Bolton noted that Giffords not only has made lasting contributions to the country, but was also a strong advocate for the US’s space programme and a member of the NASA family.

Horrified by the violent attack, Senator John McCain said: “Whoever did this; whatever their reason, they are a disgrace to Arizona, this country and the human race, and they deserve and will receive the contempt of all decent people and the strongest punishment of the law.” “What Americans do in times of tragedy is to come together and support each other. I know Gabby is as tough as they come and I’m hopeful she’s going to pull through,” U.S. President Barack Obama said.

Following the incident, Mr. Obama was briefed by FBI Director Robert Mueller, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Attorney General Eric Holder and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon. Mr. Obama also made calls to Gifford’s husband, whom he left a message for, Governor Jan Brewer, and top Congressional leadership including House Speaker John Boehner, to express his deep concern and to update all of them on the late.

“It’s not surprising today Gabby was doing what she always does. Listening to hopes and concerns of her neighbours. That is the essence of what our democracy is all about. That is why this is more than a tragedy for those involved. It is a tragedy for Arizona and a tragedy for our entire country,” he added.

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