Gunman in shooting of U.S. Congresswoman posted anti-government messages

12:31, January 09, 2011      

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A medical helicopter evacuates victims from a "Congress on Your Corner" event in Tucson, Arizona, where U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) among others were shot and seriously wounded, in this still image taken from video released on January 8. 2011. Giffords, a 40-year-old Democrat in her third term in the U.S. House of Representatives, was airlifted to a hospital in Tucson on Saturday shortly after being shot in the head at point blank range at a Safeway supermarket in the Arizona city. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

The 22-year-old suspect in the shooting of U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords on Saturday posted anti-government messages on YouTube and MySpace before the rampage.

Jared Loughner shot at Giffords and others outside a grocery store in Tucson, Arizona at about 10:00 a.m., killing at least six people and wounding 12 others, including Giffords.

In the messages posted on MySpace and YouTube web pages, Loughner talked about his distrust of the government and suggested that anyone can call anyone a terrorist.

"I can't trust the current government because of fabrications," Loughner wrote in the YouTube message. "The government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar."

He also mentioned his concern over literacy rates and the fact that nobody speaks English.

"The majority of people who reside in District 8 are illiterate - hilarious," Loughner wrote in another YouTube slide. "I don't control your English grammar structure."

District 8, an area served by Giffords, includes a 114-mile (182- kilometer) stretch of the U.S. border with Mexico.

"Goodbye," Loughner said in a message posted on his MySpace account at approximately 5 a.m. Saturday. "Dear friends ... Please don't be mad at me."

Loughner shot at Giffords at close range at a gathering involving her constituents. Among those killed were U.S. District Judge John Roll, a nine-year girl and an aide to the Congresswoman. The aide was identified as Gabe Zimmerman, 30, Giffords' community outreach director.

Giffords spokesman C.J. Karamargin said an unspecified number of her staff members were injured in the shooting.

Arizona law enforcement officials said a gunman in the crowd shot Giffords, a 40-year-old Democrat, and a person in the crowd shot at the gunman. Witnesses said they heard 15 to 20 shots.

Pima County Sheriff's officials said the gunman used a semi-automatic pistol to carry out the rampage. The suspect has been taken into custody, the officials said without discussing his motive.

In a press conference Saturday night, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said Giffords was the intended target in the shooting.

Dupnik described the suspect as one with a criminal record and one with mental issues.

Dupnik also said he was "not convinced" that the suspect acted alone. Local reports said police are hunting for a second man in connection with the shooting. Police have photo of the possible suspect, the sheriff said.

Giffords has undergone brain surgery after being shot through the head.

One of the surgeons who operated on Giffords said afterwards, "I'm very optimistic about her recovery."

Giffords was following commands, a good sign, Dr. Peter Rhee told a news conference at the University Medical Center in Tucson.

The bullet entered one side of Gifford's head and exited the other after passing through her brain, he said.

"She was shot one time in the head through and through," Rhee said.

Shortly after the shooting, U.S. President Barack Obama condemned the rampage, calling it a "tragedy for our entire country."

He said he has sent FBI chief Robert Mueller to coordinate the investigation and a "comprehensive investigation" is currently underway.

In a three-minute statement delivered in the state dining room in the White House, Obama said U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was wounded in the attack, was still battling for her life, and the motive of the attack remained unknown. He said he's hopeful that Giffords will "pull through."

According to the White House, Obama learned of the shooting from Homeland Security Advisor John Brennan a little after 1:20 p. m. Eastern time.

The president was then briefed by Mueller, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Attorney General Eric Holder, and a number of senior White House officials.

Source: Xinhua
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