The Other McCain

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ARIZONA OUTRAGE: Rep. Giffords Shot in Tucson; U.S. Judge Killed; Gunman Identified as Jared Loughner, 22

Posted on | January 8, 2011 | 38 Comments

UPDATE 5:05 p.m. ET: According to CBS News, Jared Loughner, 22, reportedly used a semi-automatic pistol with an extra-large ammo clip in the attack that critically wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), killed at least five others — including a 9-year-old girl, a federal judge and one of Giffords’ aides — and wounded several more people.

Information about Loughner is sketchy. It appears he has had at least one previous run-in with law enforcement. What appear to be messages Loughner left online suggest he was suffering from mental illness. Da Tech Guy has scheduled an extra hour of his radio show tonight to discuss this bloody tragedy.

UPDATE 5:25 p.m. ET: It has been confirmed that U.S. Judge John Roll was killed at the scene.

UPDATE 8:35 p.m.: Arizona Shooter “Seems to Be Someone Desperately Needing Mental Health Care.” According to various reports, Loughner had a criminal history and had attempted to enlist in the Army but was rejected.

I’ll be on Da Tech Guy’s radio show tonight to talk about this sad incident. You can listen live at the WCRN Web site.

Please note that the updates below are not all in chronological sequence. I’m trying to post new information in order of importance.

UPDATE 6:05 p.m. ET: Warner Todd Huston has transcribed the demented gibberish in the online videos posted by Jared Lee Loughner.

Beyond the general incoherence, the evidence of mental illness in the video text includes psychological projection: While Loughner commits numerous errors of vocabulary and syntax (e.g., “conscience dreaming” instead of “conscious dreaming”) he nonetheless denounces the “majority of people” who “are illiterate.” This suggests grandiosity and scapegoating, both symptomatic of paranoia.

I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if it turns out that Loughner had previously been treated for mental illness.

UPDATE 5:15 p.m. ET: Donald Douglas at American Power has a round-up on the shooting, including attempts by “progressive” bloggers to blame Sarah Palin.

Linked by Bob Belvedere at the Camp of the Saints — thanks!

UPDATE 4:10 p.m. ET: The Associated Press names the suspect apprehended in the shooting as Jared Laughner.

UPDATE 4:42 p.m. ET: Commenters below have linked to the YouTube channel of someone named Jared Loughner, who in recent weeks had posted weird videos with semi-literate text about “conscience dreaming” and “new currency.”

If this “Loughner” is the gunman in custody, it appears that he is mentally ill. This is eerily similar to Pentagon gunman J. Patrick Bedell. See my March post at the Hot Air Green Room, “Whatever Happened to Crazy?”

UPDATE 4:55 p.m. ET: Ben Smith of Politico uses the term “anti-government political views” to describe the content of these YouTube videos, but “incoherent” and “cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs” might be a more accurate characterization:

“You don’t have to accept hte federalist laws,” the video [by Loughner] says; it also insists on the gold and silver standard, talks of revolution, and suggests that the government is imposing “mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar.”
His linked MySpace page, no longer available, included statements about the gold standard and about SWAT teams paying for their equipment with illegal currency.
Among his long list of favorite books in his YouTube profile are Mein Kampf, The Communist Manifesto, Siddhartha.

As I would note also in reference to the Pentagon shooter Bedell, the “political” beliefs of the mentally ill are difficult to categorize ideologically. “Crazy” is not an ideology. When somebody starts babbling word-salad stuff about “mind control,” etc., the problem is not politics. The problem is that somebody forgot to take their meds.

UPDATE 4:20 p.m. ET: A federal judge and a 9-year-old girl are reportedly among those killed in this incident. Medical authorities have said they are “optimistic” about Giffords’ survival.

Left Coast Rebel, VodkaPundit and Weasel Zippers are all blogging about this senseless tragedy. Instapundit is also aggregating. Via Memeorandum, we see that “progressive” blogger TBogg says “f*** it, I’m going there” to blame Sarah Palin.

UPDATE 4:02 p.m. ET: Troubling news that there may have been more than one gunman. Fox News reports:

Initial reports said that Giffords had died but a hospital spokesman and three House sources told Fox News that she remained alive in a nearby hospital where she was undergoing surgery.
At least 19 people were shot at Gifford’s “Your Corner” event held outside a Safeway grocery store in Tucson, including three members of the Democratic congresswoman’s staff in Arizona. Five have died and nine are in critical condition at the University of Arizona Medical Center.
A suspect is in custody. Authorities are looking for a possible second suspect.

But that’s just a “possible” suspect. These early reports are bound to be confusing. For one guy to shoot 19 people would probably require that he have at least two weapons or else an extra-large clip. Will clarify as further news becomes available.

UPDATE 3:46 p.m. ET: Interestingly, Giffords was one of the Democrats who didn’t vote for Nancy Pelosi as minority leader Wednesday. She voted for Rep. John Lewis, Georgia Democrat and civil-rights hero. Giffords was barely re-elected in the 8th District, edging Republican Jesse Kelly by less than 4,000 votes, and only won by campaigning well to the right of the Democratic leadership on immigration and other issues.

UPDATE 3:10 p.m. ET: Contradicting earlier reports that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was dead, the Washington Post now reports that the Arizona Democrat is in surgery and reportedly in critical condition. The number of others wounded or killed is also in dispute. Still no word on the identity of the gunman or his motive.

UPDATE 3:25 p.m. ET: As noted below, some are attempting to theorize a political motive in the absence of any actual knowledge. Given that we don’t even know at this point how many people were shot, or whether they’re dead or alive, it is irresponsible in the extreme to speculate about a motive.

The Anchoress writes: “It’s kind of disgusting when you hear someone is shot and the first thing you do is try to figure out how to fit the terrible news to your political worldview.” Da Tech Guy recalls the Bill Sparkman fiasco.

Linked by the Lonely Conservative — thanks! I’ve also been on the phone with Da Tech Guy, whose show tonight on WCRN 830 AM will obviously now have to include discussion of this horrible crime. 

PREVIOUSLY: Democrat Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was among seven people fatally shot at an event in the parking lot of a grocery store. The gunman, described as being in his late teens or early 20s, is in custody.

Ed Morrissey has been aggregating the story for more than an hour.

UPDATE: According to the New York Times, Giffords’ spokesman said she was “shot point blank in the head.” The total number of people reportedly killed or injured is 12.

No word yet on a motive, but . . . point-blank in the head? The word for that is “assassination.”

UPDATE II: Joel Achenbach of the Washington Post notes that some Daily Kos commenters appear to be trying to blame this on . . . wait for it . . . Sarah Palin.

UPDATE III: Regardless of who perpetrated this outrage or why, it’s terribly harmful to the political process.

While I was on Capitol Hill for swearing-in events Wednesday, I saw Democrat Rep. Raul Grijalva (AZ-7) walk past on the sidewalk. He was walking alone, with no aides or anybody else with him. I said hello, smiled and waved. 

Every regular reader here knows how enthusiastically I covered Republican Ruth McClung’s challenge to Grijalva in the election. But it’s just politics, people!

No matter how intense the debate or how serious the issues, no one ought to fear for their safety merely because they become involved in the political process, either as an elected official or any other capacity.


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