Shooter Described as Loner by Former Classmate
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The Fiscal Times
January 8, 2011

As the nation focuses on the horrific shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 17 others outside a grocery store in Tucson Saturday, some of the most detailed and gripping reporting is coming from the Arizona Daily Star, social media  and journalists on Twitter.

Giffords, a young, up-and coming blue dog Democrat from a heavily conservative Arizona district,  was shot in the head on Saturday at a northwest-side grocery store during a meet-and-greet with constituents, but surgeons say they are "very optimistic" about her recovery. Meanwhile, Gov. Jan Brewer's office confirmed that federal Judge John Roll was among the dead. Sheriff's authorities said there were six dead, including a 9-year old child, as well as 13 wounded.

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said Giffords was the target of a gunman whom he described as mentally unstable and possibly acting along with an accomplice who is being sought. The rampage ended only after two people tackled the gunman.

The gunman has been identified as 22-year-old Jared Loughner. Journalist Alex Leo tweets that Loughner wrote to his friends on his MySpace page before shooting: "Please don't be mad at me ... I cannot rest."  He used a semi-automatic Glock 19 pistol, purchased legally last November at a sporting goods store in Tucson.

According to the Arizona Daily Star and online court records, Loughner has had at least two minor run-ins with police. In October 2007, he was cited by the Pima County Sheriff's Department for possession of drug paraphernalia, a charge that was dismissed in November 2007 when he completed a diversion program.

One year later, in October 2008, Loughner was charged with a "local charge" in Marana Municipal Court. That charge was also dismissed following the completion of a diversion program in March 2009. Court records indicate the Marana case file is due to be purged in December 2013. It's unclear what the exact charge was. He had several nonsensical postings on various social-media sites.

Here’s what we learn, meanwhile, on Mashable/Social Media: We’re told to go to suspected gunman Jared Lee Loughner’s YouTube channel, and the first thing you’ll hear is a video the suspect has favorited, with angry music repeatedly shouting, “Let the bodies hit the floor.” Also on the channel are a few videos Loughner apparently created himself, spelling out his confusing, nonsensical philosophy in white text over a black background.

TwitPic users have reacted to the shootings with photo of the suspect, and another widely circulated graphic is Sarah Palin’s map of the U.S., with the clogan “It’s Time to Take a Stand,” with gun sights depicted on certain areas, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ Arizona district. (Incidentally, Tea Party reps condemned the shootings.)

The Congresswoman, the wife of Astronaut Mark Kelly, who is commander of the next U.S. space shuttle mission, tweeted just before she was shot, inviting her constituents to the event where the gunman opened fire, killing 5 and injuring 17: “My 1st Congress on Your Corner starts now. Please stop by the let me know what is on your mind or tweet me later”
 
Meanwhile, a firestorm of accusations and controversy erupted on Twitter, where liberal blogger and Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas tweeted shortly after the incident, “Mission accomplished, Sarah Palin.”  Giffords, recently elected to a third term, was one of 20 Democrats from marginally Republican districts targeted for defeat by Palin’s “SarahPAC” because of their votes in support of health care reform. 

Caitie Parker, who went to high school and college with Loughner, tweeted a description of a philosophical loner who called Giffords ”stupid.”  But it was Anthony De Rosa at Reuters Media who reported early and often about Loughner, sending photos, describing the shooting and correcting media inaccuracies. 

Meanwhile House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said the House has suspended all actions next week, including discussion on a bill to repeal health care. 

Washington Editor and D.C. Bureau Chief Eric Pianin is a veteran journalist who has covered the federal government, congressional budget and tax issues, and national politics. He spent over 25 years at The Washington Post.