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Law enforcement officials said members of Congress reported 42 cases of threats or violence in the first three months of 2010, nearly three times the 15 cases reported during the same period a year earlier. Nearly all dealt with the health care bill, and Ms. Giffords was among the targets.

The shooting cast a pall over the Capitol as politicians of all stripes denounced the attack as a horrific. Capitol police asked members of Congress to be more vigilant about security in the wake of the shooting.

Giffords spokesman C.J. Karamargin said besides Mr. Zimmerman, the aide who was killed, two other Giffords staffers were shot but expected to survive. Mr. Zimmerman was a former social worker who served as Ms. Giffords‘ director of community outreach.

Greg Segalini, an uncle of Christina’s, the 9-year-old victim, told the Arizona Republic that a neighbor was going to the event and invited her along because she had just been elected to the student council and was interested in government.

Christina, who was born on Sept. 11, 2001, was involved in many activities, from ballet to baseball. She had just received her first Holy Communion at St. Odilia’s Catholic Church in Tucson, Diocese of Tucson officials told the Arizona Daily Star.

Mr. Loughner, the suspect, was described by a former classmate as a pot-smoking loner, and the Army said he tried to enlist in December 2008 but was rejected for reasons not disclosed.

Federal law enforcement officials were poring over versions of a MySpace page that included a mysterious “Goodbye friends” message published hours before the shooting and exhorted his friends to “Please don’t be mad at me.”

In one of several YouTube videos, which featured text against a dark background, Mr. Loughner described inventing a new U.S. currency and complained about the illiteracy rate among people living in Ms. Giffords‘ congressional district in Arizona.

“I know who’s listening: Government Officials, and the People,” Mr. Loughner wrote. “Nearly all the people, who don’t know this accurate information of a new currency, aren’t aware of mind control and brainwash methods. If I have my civil rights, then this message wouldn’t have happen (sic).”

In Mr. Loughner’s middle-class neighborhood — about a five-minute drive from the scene — sheriff’s deputies had much of the street blocked off. The neighborhood sits just off a bustling Tucson street and is lined with desert landscaping and palm trees.

Neighbors said Mr. Loughner lived with his parents and kept to himself. He was often seen walking his dog, almost always wearing a hooded sweat shirt and listening to his iPod.

Mr. Loughner’s MySpace profile indicates he attended and graduated from school in Tucson and had taken college classes. He did not say if he was employed.

High school classmate Grant Wiens, 22, said Mr. Loughner seemed to be “floating through life” and “doing his own thing.”

“Sometimes religion was brought up or drugs. He smoked pot, I don’t know how regularly. And he wasn’t too keen on religion, from what I could tell,” Mr. Wiens said.

Lynda Sorenson said she took a math class with Mr. Loughner last summer at Pima Community College’s Northwest campus and told the Arizona Daily Star he was “obviously very disturbed.”

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