Rep. Gabrielle Giffords shot in Arizona

REP. GABRIELLE GIFFORDS SHOT IN ARIZONA…. Details are still coming together, but reports indicate that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a Democrat from Arizona, was shot at close range in the head earlier today. The shooting occurred at a grocery store in Tucson, where the congresswoman was greeting constituents at a public event.

The condition of the congresswoman, Ms. Giffords, 40, remained unclear. She was taken to University Medical Center in Tucson, the trauma center for the area, about 10 miles away.

CNN quoted a public information officer as saying that 12 people had been injured in all.

The shooting occurred at a Safeway supermarket in northwest Tuscon as Ms. Giffords hosted an event, called “Congress on Your Corner,” to allow members of the 8th Congressional District to meet her individually. She has held several events since first taking office in January 2007. At one such event in 2009, a protester was removed by police when his pistol fell on the supermarket floor. This was her first event since her re-election to a third term in November.

Last March, her Tucson office was vandalized a few hours after the House vote overhauling the nation’s health care system, the authorities said.

As best as I can tell, we do not yet know who the shooter is, what motivated the attack, or whether the assailant is in custody. I’ll post more when I know more.

* Update: Several outlets are noting that three Giffords staffers were also shot at the event.

* Second Update: NPR reports that the shooter is in custody after being tackled by a bystander.

* Third Update: CNN reported that Giffords has died, but MSNBC quoted a hospital spokesperson who said the congresswoman is alive and in surgery.

* Fourth Update: While we wait for additional updates, I thought I’d note some additional context about Giffords’ district and recent elections. She was elected as part of the Democratic wave in 2006, and has managed to hold onto her seat in Arizona’s competitive 8th district, along the state’s Southern border. Republicans had high hopes of defeating Giffords in the 2010 midterms after she voted for health care form — Giffords was one of the incumbents Sarah Palin’s political action committee put the crosshairs of a rifle-sight over last year — but Giffords narrowly eked out a victory, defeating a Tea Party favorite by 3,600 votes. Last year, Giffords’s office was vandalized after the health care vote.

* Fifth Update: The gunman has been described as a white male in his mid-20s with short hair. To reiterate, the man is currently in custody.

* Sixth Update: A witness to the shootings, a physician named Steven Rayle, said Giffords was standing behind a table greeting people “when the gunman approached her from behind, held a gun about a foot from her head and began firing.”

* Seventh Update: A federal judge was also among the shooter’s victims. No word yet on which judge or his/her condition.

* Eighth Update: President Obama issued a statement this afternoon: “This morning, in an unspeakable tragedy, a number of Americans were shot in Tuscon, Arizona, at a constituent meeting with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. And while we are continuing to receive information, we know that some have passed away, and that Representative Giffords is gravely wounded. We do not yet have all the answers. What we do know is that such a senseless and terrible act of violence has no place in a free society. I ask all Americans to join me and Michelle in keeping Representative Giffords, the victims of this tragedy, and their families in our prayers.”