A U.S. Congresswoman has been shot, a federal judge killed and at least 17others injured or killed when a lone shooter sprayed bullets into a small crowd of constituents with whom Giffords was meeting in front of a Tucson supermarket this morning, officials said.
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., was shot in the head, and U.S. District Judge John Roll is dead after the assailant sprayed bullets into an area where Giffords was meeting with constituents. A 9-year-old child also is reportedly dead from the attack.
Eighteen individuals were shot, according to Det. Rich Kastigar, of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. Kastigar confirmed that the shooter, a 22-year-old man, is in custody. He said the weapon was a pistol with an extended magazine.
The shooter has now been identified by law enforcement as Jared Lee Laughner, but little is known about him at this time.
President Obama said: “This morning, in an unspeakable tragedy, a number of Americans were shot in Tucson, 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.
Deeply troubled by the shooting, Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner (R-Ohio) issued the following statement: “Í am horrified by the senseless attack on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and members of her staff. An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve. Acts and threats of violence against public officials have no place in our society. Our prayers are with Congresswoman Giffords, her staff, all who were injured and their families. This is a sad day for our country.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D, Calif.) was equally upset, saying "It is with the deepest sadness that we have received word of the attack on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, members of her staff, and her constituents. This terrible act of violence is a national tragedy, and today is a very sad day for our country.
"My prayers, and the prayers of all Members of Congress, go out to her husband, Captain Mark Kelly, their family, and to all of the staff and others who were victims of this horrible attack.
"Congresswoman Giffords is a brilliant and courageous Member of Congress, bringing to Washington the views of a new generation of national leaders. It is especially tragic that she was attacked as she was meeting with her constituents whom she serves with such dedication and distinction."
Giffords, who was re-elected to her third term in November, was hosting her first "Congress on Your Corner" event in northwest Tucson, according to National Public Radio.
Giffords, 40, is married to U.S. astronaut Mark Kelly, a naval officer who is slated to be the commander of the last space shuttle.
She was elected in November 2006, taking office in January 2007. She was interested in such issues as immigration reform, embryonic stem-cell research, alternative energy sources and a higher minimum wage. In November, she narrowly defeated a tea party favorite, and was sworn in for her third term earlier this week.