News (USA)

Gunman in AZ shooting held without bail; Giffords’ condition critical; gay intern hailed

Gunman in AZ shooting held without bail; Giffords’ condition critical; gay intern hailed

Update: Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011, 10:15 a.m. MST. Physicians at University Medical Center in Tucson reported Tuesday that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords remains in critical condition, but “holding her own.” Although they are still using a breathing tube, Giffords is now able to breathe on her own, said Dr. Michael Lemole Jr. Long term prognosis is still undetermined.

Jared Loughner (booking photo)

PHOENIX — The suspect in the attempted assassination of a U. S. Congresswoman, which left her and 14 others gravely injured and six dead, appeared in federal court in Phoenix on Monday.

Jared L. Loughner, 22, his head shaved bare and his hands and feet in restraints, was escorted into the federal courtroom, by heavily armed U. S. Marshals under tight security.

Loughner is charged with one count of attempted assassination of a member of Congress — Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) — two counts of killing an employee of the United States and two counts of intent to kill employees of the United States.

Giffords, 40, a gay rights supporter and member of the House LGBT Equality Caucus, remains in critical condition after suffering a single gunshot wound to the head while appearing at a public event in Tucson, Ariz. Saturday. (Coverage of Saturday’s shooting here.)

During a search of Loughner’s home, authorities found an envelope with handwriting that read “I planned ahead,” and “My assassination” and the name “Giffords,” as well as Loughner’s signature.

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

Doctors at University Medical Center in Tucson, said Monday
they remain cautiously optimistic about Giffords’ recovery.

“At this time, no change is good, and we have no change,” said Dr. Michael Lemole Jr., a leading authority on skull base surgery and Chief of Neurosurgery at UMC. Lemole performed the surgery on Giffords with Dr. Martin Weinand, a professor of surgery in the neurosurgery section.

Giffords still is following simple commands, such as, “can you wiggle your toes” or “can you raise two fingers,” the hospital reported.

Additionally, CT scans show no progression of swelling in her brain. Dr. Lemole stressed that swelling can sometimes take three to five days to maximize, “but every day that goes by makes us slightly more optimistic.”

According to Dr. Peter M. Rhee, Giffords was “shot through and through on one side of the head … [it] went through her brain.” The bullet traveled through the left hemisphere of her brain without crossing the midline, where the most critical injuries result.

Daniel Hernandez Jr.

Governor Jan Brewer, in her “State of the State” address before the Arizona legislature Monday, memorialized the victims of the tragedy, and hailed the courage of Daniel Hernandez Jr., Giffords’ 20 year-old openly gay intern, who rushed to the Congresswoman’s aid just moments after she was shot. Hernandez’ quick efforts to stabilize Giffords has been credited with saving her life.

The Governor asked Hernandez to rise in appreciation of his service, while the chamber erupted in a standing round of sustained applause.

In federal court, U. S. Magistrate Lawrence Anderson called Loughner “a danger to the community” and ordered him to be held without bail.

Six people were killed in Saturday’s shooting spree, but Pima County Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik said Rep. Giffords was clearly the target. The attack is believed to be the first assassination attempt on a female politician in U.S. history.

Among the six dead are U.S. District Judge John Roll, 63, Gabriel Zimmerman, 30, an aide to Rep. Giffords, and 9 year-old Christina Greene, who was born on 9/11.

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