- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 9, 2011

Authorities on Sunday lodged federal charges against a man they said killed six people and gravely wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Arizona Democrat, during a brazen shooting that FBI director called “an attack on our institutions and our way of life.”

While doctors sounded hopeful about Mrs. Giffords chances for survival, federal and state investigators continued to piece together clues in an effort to explain why she was targeted for assassination during a town-hall-style meeting with constituents in Tucson.

Authorities said they are not yet sure what drove the suspect, Jared Loughner, 22, to carry out the attack, which left dead Arizona’s top federal judge, three senior citizens, an aide to Ms. Giffords and a 9-year-old girl who recently had won a school election and went to the event because of her interest in government.

But investigators did seize from a safe in Mr. Loughner’s home an envelope that suggested the attack on Mrs. Giffords was thought out beforehand. Scribbled on the envelope were the words “I planned ahead,” “My Assassination,” and “Giffords,” according to court documents.

Authorities also found a letter from Mrs. Giffords‘ office thanking Mr. Loughner for attending a similar “Congress in Your Corner” event in 2007.

MOURNING: Flags in Washington were lowered to half-staff by order of President Obama to remember the victims of the rampage. (Associated Press)
MOURNING: Flags in Washington were lowered to half-staff by order of President ... more >

Saturday’s shooting took place at a Safeway supermarket in Tucson, about five minutes from the home where Mr. Loughner lives with his mother.

Mr. Loughner is alleged to have shot Mrs. Giffords in the head and indiscriminately opened fire on staffers and others standing in line to talk to the congresswoman, said Mark Kimble, a communications staffer for Mrs Giffords.

“He was not more than three or four feet from the congresswoman and the district director,” Mr. Kimble said, describing the scene as “just complete chaos, people screaming, crying.”

Event volunteer Alex Villec said Mr. Loughner “was definitely on a mission.”

A 911 call released Sunday has a witness describing a frantic scene, saying, “I do believe Gabby Giffords was hit.”

Mr. Loughner, whom friends described as a pot-smoking, community college dropout who had unsuccessfully tried to join the Army, is set to appear Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lawrence Anderson at the federal court in Phoenix.

He was named on five federal counts of attempting to kill Mrs. Giffords; the killing of U.S. District Chief Judge John M. Roll; the killing of Gabriel Zimmerman, 30, a Giffords aide; the attempted murder of Pamela Simon, a Giffords aide; and the attempted murder of Ron Barber, also an aide to the congresswoman. The judge had stopped by after Mass to say hello to Mrs. Giffords, a longtime friend.

The Rules of Criminal Procedure require that a grand jury review the evidence and issue an indictment within 30 days of Mr. Loughner’s initial court appearance.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said additional charges could be coming, including possibly domestic terrorism charges.

Authorities said the dead also included Dorothy Morris, 76; Dorwin Stoddard, 76; Phyllis Scheck, 79, and Christina-Taylor Green, the 9-year-old granddaughter of former Philadelphia Phillies manager Dallas Green, who was born on Sept. 11, 2001, and featured in a book called “Faces of Hope” that chronicled one baby from each state born on the day terrorists killed nearly 3,000 people at the World Trade Center in New York.

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