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Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., Many Others, Shot; At Least Six Dead

Flags fly at half-mast outside University Medical Center in Tucson where Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and other victims were being treated after being shot today.
Chris Morrison
Flags fly at half-mast outside University Medical Center in Tucson where Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and other victims were being treated after being shot today.

9 p.m. ET: Shortly after 10 a.m. local time today in Tucson (noon ET), a gunman opened fire at an open-air townhall meeting that Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was holding with constituents. As the story emerged, the tragedy grew -- at least six people were dead, including a 9-year-old girl and a federal judge. At least another 12 people are reported to have been wounded. At this hour, the 40-year-old Giffords is among those in critical condition. She was shot in the head.

We used this post to follow the story as it developed. It's in reverse chronological order because we added updates to the top as they came in. To see how things happened, scroll down to the end and "read up." To see NPR.org's news story, click here.

We'll be back Sunday with more about all this. And NPR's Weekend Edition, All Things Considered and newcasts will be on the story.

8:40 p.m. ET: Former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona, a family friend of Giffords, ends the news conference with some comments about her condition and prognosis. "I hope that she will survive," he says, but "this is a very devastating wound."

8:33 p.m. ET:Saying he can't take any more questions, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik ends his part of the news conference with another statement about the nature of the political discourse in the nation today:

"The vitriol we hear inflaming the American public by people who make a living doing that .... That may be free speech, but it's not without consequences."

8:22 p.m. ET: Authorities are actively pursuing a potential accomplice who may have brought the suspect to the scene and they know who that person is, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik tells reporters.

There were still bullets in the suspect's gun when he was tackled by two bystanders, Dupnik says.

Federal Judge John McCarthy Roll, who was killed, was just there to say hello to Giffords, according to the sheriff.

8:19 p.m. ET: There was no "return fire" from anyone at the scene aimed at the gunman, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik says, laying to rest reports that bystanders might have tried to shoot the suspect. The gunman, he says, was tackled by two witnesses.

8:14 p.m. ET: "Yes, she was the target," Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik says when asked if Giffords was the the primary object of the shooter's attack.

8:12 p.m. ET: Six people have died, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik just told reporters. Another 13, at least, were wounded. And, "we're not convinced he acted alone," Dupnik says of the suspect -- it's possible he was brought to the scene by an accomplice.

Dupnik also said the vitriol of the nation's talk radio is fueling the kind of hatred that was acted out today. He and other authorities are holding a news conference now.

We'll pass on more details as they come in.

7:45 p.m. ET. Reaction from Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee:

"I am horrified by the violent attack on Representative Gabrielle Giffords and many other innocent people by a wicked person who has no sense of justice or compassion.  I pray for Gabby and the other victims, and for the repose of the souls of the dead and comfort for their families.  I beg our loving Creator to spare the lives of those who are still alive, heal them in body and spirit, and return them to their loved ones.

"Whoever did this; whatever their reason, they are a disgrace to Arizona, this country and the human race, and they deserve and will receive the contempt of all decent people and the strongest punishment of the law."

7:28 p.m. ET: C.J. Karamargin, Giffords' spokeswoman, just confirmed to CNN that among those killed was Gabe Zimmerman, the congresswoman's director of community outreach. Zimmerman was engaged to be married. (Thank you, reader Diane Luber, for catching our earlier mistake on Karamargin's name.)

7:15 p.m. ET: Authorities in Tucson are scheduled to hold a news conference at 8 p.m. ET, and it's likely we'll have some more clarity about the toll once that happens. While NPR and other news outlets are all now reporting that six people were killed, the numbers being reported about how many were wounded vary from 10 to 18.

7 p.m. ET: As we've previously said, it's being reported that six people were killed by the shots. One has been identified as federal Judge John McCarthy Roll. Another was a nine-year-old girl, doctors say. A third, according to The Arizona Republic, was an aide to Giffords.

This photo obtained from the 2006 Mountain View High School yearbook shows Jared L. Loughner. Police say that he has been taken into custody in conjunction with the shooting incident today in Tucson where Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-AZ, and others were shot.
Anonymous / AP
This photo obtained from the 2006 Mountain View High School yearbook shows Jared L. Loughner. Police say that he has been taken into custody in conjunction with the shooting incident today in Tucson where Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-AZ, and others were shot.

6:45 p.m. ET: On All Things Considered, NPR's Ted Robbins said he's been told by the local sheriff's office that six people were killed and 18 were wounded (as we said previously, such numbers are subject to change as more information comes in).

6:20 p.m. ET: The Associated Press is distributing a 2006 yearbook photo (left) of Jared Lee Loughner, who NPR and other news outlets have been told is the suspect in today's shooting.

It's from Mountain View High School in Tucson.

Also, the AP writes that "officials familiar with the investigation into a shooting rampage in Arizona say the suspect claims he acted alone."

6 p.m. ET: Even as some, like NPR's Ken Rudin, caution against rushing to judgement "a war of words" is raging on Twitter, as Politico says.

5:50 p.m. ET: Our colleague Ken Rudin makes this point over at It's All Politics -- speculating about the gunman's motive at this point, "helps no one."

5:45 p.m. ET: From NPR.org's rolling news story, some background on the congresswoman:

"Giffords was first elected to represent Arizona's 8th District in 2006. ... [Her] Tucson office was one of three damaged last March by vandals who targeted Democrats in advance of the U.S. House vote on the controversial health care legislation. A glass panel at her office was shattered, and at the time her staff said that it appeared the window had been damaged by a pellet gun.

"Giffords is married to astronaut Mark E. Kelly, who has piloted space shuttles Endeavour and Discovery. The two met in China in 2003 while they were serving on a committee there, and were married in January 2007."

The bullet that struck Giffords, doctors say, passed through her brain and out her skull. As we said earlier, she is in critical condition -- but doctors are optimistic that she will recover.

5:25 p.m. ET: Federal Judge John McCarthy Roll, who has been identified as being among those killed today, was born in Pittsburgh in 1947. He was nominated to the U.S. District Court in Arizona in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush and had been chief judge in the district since 2006.

5:18 p.m. ET. There's more word on possible Web postings by the suspected gunman, who NPR and other news outlets say has been identified as 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner. The Associated Press writes that a MySpace page that appears to have been created by Loughner, "was removed [from the site] within minutes of the gunman being identified by U.S. officials. It "included a mysterious 'Goodbye friends' message published hours before the shooting which exhorted his friends to 'Please don't be mad at me'.''

We first posted about Loughner and what may be videos and postings he's put online at 4:30 p.m. ET. Scroll down to see that update.

5:35 p.m. ET: Latest on the toll, according to CNN: Six people have died. At least 12 were wounded. Other media are reporting five deaths.

5:09 p.m. ET: CNN and NPR's Dina Temple-Raston say they also have confirmed with law enforcement sources that the suspect is a 22-year-old male named Jared Lee Loughner. We posted at 4:30 p.m. ET that the AP was reporting that name and about YouTube videos that someone posted under that name.

5:01 p.m. ET: An emotional Gov. Jan Brewer, R-AZ, her voice choking at times, just told reporters that "all of Arizona is shocked and deeply saddened."

4:50 p.m. ET: Today's events are "a tragedy for Arizona and a tragedy for our entire country," President Obama just told reporters at the White House.

He asked all Americans to keep the victims in their prayers, said the nation will be through this, and said that FBI Director Robert Mueller is on his way to Arizona to coordinate the investigation.

"A suspect is currently in custody," Obama said, "but we don't yet know what provoked this unspeakable act."

4:40 p.m. ET:Latest on the toll: At least six people were killed, local authorities now say.

4:30 p.m. ET: Because the Associated Press is reporting that it has been told by "people familiar with the investigation" that the suspect is named Jared Lee Loughner, there's a rush to see these YouTube clips from someone saying that is his name -- who writes of "conscience dreaming," a "new currency," English grammar, "mind control" and brainwashing. He concludes one video with the words "if I have my civil rights, then this message wouldn't have happen" [sic].

We need to be clear, though: There is no official word yet from authorities about the suspect's name. And any connection to the YouTube clips also has yet to be definitely made.

4:20 p.m. ET:President Obama is expected to speak about this momentarily.

4:19 p.m. ET.More on another of the fatalities, from the AP:

"U.S. Marshal for Arizona David Gonzales confirmed to the Associated Press that U.S. District Judge John Roll died in the attack Saturday."

4:03 p.m. ET: At the University of Arizona hopspital, Dr. Peter Rhee just said that one victim who was brought there -- a child about nine years old -- has died.

Ten people were brought to the hospital, he said. Five are in critical condition, including Giffords. Rhee is "very optimistic" that she will recover.

3:59 p.m. ET:Multiple media reports that the suspect is a 22-year-old male.

And the main news conference by local authorities is now said to be set for 8 p.m. ET.

3:56 p.m. ET: CNN is now saying there were six fatalities and at least 18 people injured. Again: This is a dynamic story and information is changing. We'll keep updating.

3:49 p.m. ET: Federal judge John Roll is now said by law enforcement sources to be among those who may have been killed, NPR's Carrie Johnson reports. Fox News and several other media outlets also say they've confirmed that the judge has died.

3:45 p.m. ET: NPR's Carrie Johnson has been told by multiple law enforcement sources that federal judge John Roll was among the other victims.

3:35 p.m. ET: KOLD-TV in Tucson says it has confirmed there are five fatalities and at least nine people injured.

State Sen. Lina Lopez, who is at the hospital where Giffords is being treated, just told Fox News that she's been told the congresswoman is responsive, though she was shot in the head.

3:21 p.m. ET:Fox News Channel says it has been told by sources that 19 people were hit by shots, and that five have died. Again: There is conflicting information coming from various news media. We are passing on reports from those outlets that say they have multiple sources -- and we will pass on any changes as they come in.

3:18 p.m. ET: Local media say that Tucson authorities will hold a news conference within the next few minutes.

3:15 p.m. ET. A statement from President Obama:

"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."

3:10 p.m. ET. A statement from House Speaker John Boehner, R-OH:

"I 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."

2:57 p.m. ET: Darci Slaten, spokeswoman at University Medical Center in Tucson, just told CNN that she can confirm Rep. Giffords was shot in the head and that she is in surgery now. Several other victims are also in surgery.

2:51 p.m. ET: The Arizona Republic is live-blogging here. It just wrote that:

"St. Sen. Lina Lopez waiting at UMC in Tucson says that Giffords parents are with her in the ER, Giffords is still in surgery and in very serious condition."

Various media are reporting that at least four people were killed.

2:37 p.m. ET: KOLD-TV in Tucson reports it has been told by hospital officials that Giffords, 40, is alive and in surgery.

2:34 p.m. ET:As we said earlier, when news is breaking fast there's often conflicting information. While NPR, Fox and CNN all report being told by sheriff's officials that Giffords has died, MSNBC is saying it has been told she is still alive.

2:28 p.m. ET:Tucson's KOLD-TV is streaming its coverage here.

2:26 p.m. ET: Multiple news reports now that the shooter is in custody and may have been wounded.

2:24 p.m. ET: CNN reports it too has confirmed that Giffords was killed.

2:20 p.m. ET: Fox News Channel says it has also "confirmed" that Giffords is dead.

2:15 p.m. ET: Giffords has died, a source in the Pima County Sheriff's office tells reporter Mark Moran of NPR's KJZZ in Phoenix. Five others were also killed, the sheriff's office tells Moran.

2:12 p.m. ET: Multiple media outlets are saying there were several fatalities.

2:05 p.m. ET. Tucson Weeklywrites that:

"Giffords, who was re-elected to her third term in November, was hosting her first 'Congress on Your Corner' event at the Safeway in northwest Tucson when a gunman ran up and started shooting, according to Peter Michaels, news director of Arizona Public Media. ... Giffords was talking to a couple when the man ran up, firing indiscriminately, and then ran off, Michaels said. According to other witnesses, the was tackled by a bystander and taken into custody."

2:04 p.m. ET: The Associated Press says it has been told by "congressional officials" that Giffords was shot in the head.

1:59 p.m. ET: The latest Arizona Republicheadline: " Reports: Rep. Giffords possibly shot in Tucson; 4 dead."

1:55 p.m. ET: Multiple media outlets are saying a dozen or more people may have been injured. Arizona Public Media is reporting that Giffords was shot in the head -- but there is a lot of conflicting information at this moment.

From the Associated Press:

"U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was shot outside a grocery store in Tucson while holding a public event, Arizona Public Media reported Saturday.

"The Democrat, who was re-elected to her third term in November, was hosting a 'Congress on Your Corner' event at the Safeway in northwest Tucson when a gunman ran up and started shooting, according to Peter Michaels, news director of Arizona Public Media.

"At least five other people, including members of her staff, were hurt. Giffords was transported to University Medical Center in Tucson. Her condition was not immediately known."

As happens when a story is just breaking, there are conflicting reports at this moment about what has happened. The Arizona Republic, for example, is saying that reports Giffords was injured are unconfirmed at this time. But CNN has an eyewitness on the air who says Giffords was shot.

We'll update this post as more details come in. Hit your "refresh" button to see our lastest additions.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.