This afternoon, prosecutors charged 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner with five serious federal charges:
- one count of attempting to kill a member of Congress
- two counts of first degree murder
- two counts of attempted murder
Authorities seized evidence from Loughner’s house that shows that he had planned to kill Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who is in critical condition with a gunshot wound to her head. According to today’s New York Times,
Tony M. Tayler Jr., an F.B.I. special agent, said in an affidavit supporting the charges that an envelope was found there with the handwritten words “I planned ahead,” ”My assassination” and “Giffords.”Other details about the envelope were not disclosed.
The court documents say that Mr. Loughner purchased the semiautomatic Glock pistol used at the shooing at Sportsman’s Warehouse in Tucson on Nov. 30. The documents also indicate that the suspect had previous contact with the congresswoman: The authorities found a letter from Ms. Giffords thanking Mr. Loughner for attending a 2007 “Congress on Your Corner” event similar to the one she was holding on Saturday morning when she was attacked.
Loughner was charged with killing or attempting to kill four other US government officials: United States District Judge John M. Roll and Gabriel Zimmerman, Giffords’ director of community outreach, who were killed, and two Congressional aides, community outreach worker Pamela Simon and Ron Barber, Giffords’ deputy director, who were wounded. 15 other people, including 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, were killed or wounded in the attack. (More about the six who died at the Washington Post.)
Authorities have yet to cite specific motivations for the shootings other than noting that Rep. Giffords (whom Loughner had apparently met at an earlier ‘Congress on the Corner’ event) was the intended target. ‘Political reverberations’ have been sent throughout the nation in the wake of the attack, the New York Times and other sources note. Flags are being flown at half-state in Washington in memory of Gabriel Zimmerman, the slain Congressional staff member. The President has called for a moment of silence at 11am on Monday, January 10, eastern standard time and has issued a presidential proclamation for the flag to be flown at half mast until sunset on January 14.
I don’t know about you, but the terrible events in Tucson have weighed over my household all weekend. All of our thoughts have been on those who lost their lives and those who were wounded, and their families. I don’t even know how to begin to talk any of this to my 13 1/2 year old son, Charlie. He is severely autistic and has many cognitive challenges, but that does not mean that he is not aware of how distracted my husband and I have been. Whether or not you have kids, who among us isn’t wondering at what in the world is going on in our country—and what does the future hold?
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