THE LATEST FROM ARIZONA…. We don’t know why Jared Lee Loughner, the accused gunman in Saturday’s massacre, chose to do what he did, and the fate of his victims who survived the violence is also unclear. But as the legal and investigatory process unfolds, a picture is coming into focus.
Prosecutors charged Jared L. Loughner, a troubled 22-year-old college dropout, with five federal counts on Sunday, including the attempted assassination of a member of Congress, in connection with a shooting rampage on Saturday morning that left six people dead and 14 wounded.
Evidence seized from Mr. Loughner’s home, about five miles from the shooting, indicated that he had planned to kill Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Democrat of Arizona, according to documents filed in Federal District Court in Phoenix.
Special Agent Tony M. Taylor Jr. of the F.B.I. said in an affidavit that an envelope found in a safe in the home bore these handwritten words: “I planned ahead,” “My assassination” and “Giffords.”
There were multiple reports late Saturday and early Sunday about a possible accomplice, and law enforcement officials were looking for a white man in his 50s for questioning. By yesterday, this person of interest was reportedly cleared — the man was the cab driver who drove Loughner to Giffords’ event, but is not believed to have been involved. (He entered the grocery store with the shooter, but it was apparently because he didn’t have change for the fare.)
As of now, based on what we know, officials believe Loughner acted alone, but the Justice Department noted that an investigation continues as to “whether anyone else was involved.”
Giffords remains in critical condition, though medical professionals who briefed reporters continue to say they expect her to survive. The other victims are no longer in critical condition.
Loughner, meanwhile, has reportedly invoked his Fifth Amendment rights, and is not cooperating with the investigation. Federal public defender Judy Clarke, who has defended Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and accused terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui, will reportedly represent Loughner.
In light of the multiple charges he’s facing, Loughner faces the death penalty if convicted.
Also, Giffords’ husband, Mark Kelly, issued a public statement last night, the text of which is published below.
“On behalf of Gabby and our entire family, I want to extend our heartfelt gratitude to the people of Arizona and this great nation for their unbelievable outpouring of support. Gabby was doing what she loved most — hearing from her constituents — when this tragedy occurred. Serving Southern Arizonans is her passion, and nothing makes her more proud than representing them in Congress.
“Like all Americans, we mourn the loss of Judge John M. Roll, Christina Taylor Green, Dorothy Morris, Phyllis Schneck, Dorwan Stoddard and Gabe Zimmerman, a fine man and beloved member of Gabby’s team. We must never forget them, and our prayers are with their families. Our hearts go out to everyone injured yesterday; we hope and pray for their quick recovery. We also extend our thanks and appreciation to all of the first responders, medical personnel, law enforcement, and Arizona citizens who acted swiftly on Saturday and continue to assist our community through this tragedy. Many stories of heroism are emerging, and they are a source of strength for us during this difficult time. We are forever grateful.
“Many of you have offered help. There is little that we can do but pray for those who are struggling. If you are inspired to make a positive gesture, consider two organizations that Gabby has long valued and supported: Tucson’s Community Food Bank and the American Red Cross.”
Community Food Bank
3003 S Country Club Rd # 221
Tucson, AZ 85713-4084
American Red Cross, Southern Arizona Chapter
2916 East Broadway Boulevard
Tucson, AZ 85716