"A Sad and Tragic Day" - NBC Southern California

"A Sad and Tragic Day"

Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is expected to survive, but six others were killed



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    A man sits near the scene of a shooting that involved Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011 in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Arizona Daily Star, Kelly Presnell) MANDATORY CREDIT, MAGS OUT, NO SALES

    Local reaction, often punctuated with the words "horrific" and "despicable,"  continues in response to Saturday's shooting deaths in Arizona.

    Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, 40, was shot in the head and initially reported dead,  but a doctor said Saturday afternoon that she underwent surgery and he expects her to survive.

    Media reports in Arizona have identified the dead as: U.S. District Judge John Roll, 63, who had attended Mass nearby and stopped to say "Hello"; Christina Taylor Greene, 9, of Tuscon; Gabe Zimmerman, 30, Gifford's director of community outreach; Dorthy Murray and Dorwin Stoddard, both 76; and Phyllis Scheck, 79.

    At least 12 other people were injured.

    They were shot Saturday morning at a Safeway grocery store in Tucson, where Giffords was holding her first public event after being narrowly re-elected to a third term over a candidate backed by the Tea Party. She was first elected to Congress in 2007.

    The alleged shooter, identified by the Washington Post and elsewhere as 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner, is in federal custody and has reportedly been uncooperative. The newspaper reported he had posted "convoluted observations about government" on YouTube, MySpace and Facebook.

    "What a sad and tragic day this is to learn of the shooting of our dear friend and colleague Gabrielle Giffords and many others attending her congressional event in Tucson, Arizona," Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles, said in a statement. "The vicious attack on Gabby and her constituents is nothing less than a despicable attack on all of us and our democracy."

    Rep. Judy Chu, D-El Monte, called the shooting "horrible."

    "Sadly, this horrible incident is a reminder of how truly dangerous and divisive our political discourse has become,'' she said in a statement. "No matter one's political leanings, attacks on public officials and citizens based on differences of opinion are unconscionable and go against everything our great nations stands for."  

    Los Angeles Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard called the shootings a "cowardly act of violence."

    Long Beach Congresswoman Laura Richardson expressed shock at the attack on a fellow Democrat, and friend, whose office used to be next door to hers.

    "It is with great horror that I heard this morning about my friend Gabby ... and others who were deliberately shot,'' Richardson said in a prepared statement. "Although we do not know the motive of the gunman, this incident demonstrates that the debates in Washington, D.C. are not restricted to the Capitol alone.

    "In particular, the health care bill and the even more volatile Arizona law (requiring police to check motorists for proof of citizenship) often needlessly put those who serve in a senseless line of fire."

    California Sen. Barbara Boxer joined those asking for prayers on behalf of the dead and  injured.

    "My thoughts and prayers go out to the families who perished in this horrific and senseless tragedy,'' Boxer said. ``I am praying for a speedy recovery for Congresswoman Giffords and the others wounded in today's tragic shooting."

    Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa also issued a statement.

    "Today is a very sad day for all those who have devoted their lives to public service, regardless of affiliation or ideology,'' he said.

    Gov. Jerry Brown said he was ``deeply saddened to learn of the shooting of congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and others in Tucson this morning."

    Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Huntington Beach, also said he was "deeply saddened."

    "She and I worked closely together on the Science Committee and she is a member of whom I have the utmost respect,'' he added. "This dastardly crime by a lone individual has no place in our free and open society."

    Tea Party Express Chair Amy Kremer also issued a statement saying the group was "shocked and saddened."

    "It is appalling that anyone would commit such unthinkable violence against Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford (sic), her staff, a sitting federal judge and the many other victims and families impacted.

    "These heinous crimes have no place in America, and they are especially grievous when committed against our elected officials. Spirited debate is desirable in our country, but it only should be the clash of ideas.

    "An attack on anyone for political purposes, if that was a factor in this shooting, is an attack on the democratic process. We join with everyone in vociferously condemning it."

    Authorities announced late Saturday that they are seeking a second man said to be in his 50s who is described as "a person of interest." In addition, a pistol has been recovered with what police described as "an extended clip."  

    Last year, Giffords was harassed over her support for healthcare reform including someone breaking windows at her Arizona office and attending one of her forums with a loaded weapon, but a motive for the attack has not been revealed.