Jared Lee Loughner, at a book fair recently. Photo: Business Insider
Gabrielle Giffords, the assassination attempt target.
Federal law enforcement sources said that John M. Roll, the senior U.S. District judge in Arizona, was shot and killed in the incident. An aide of Giffords, a former social worker, also apparently was among those who have died.
A 22-year old man was taken into custody after being tackled by people in the small crowd after the shooting. One pistol was recovered and it had what police described as "an extended clip." One media report said he was firing an automatic weapon, but that conflicted with the pistol account.
The man was identified as Jared Lee Loughner, who appears to have left a trail of Internet postings, including some that express convoluted observations about government, anti-religious rants, and statements against "mind control," according to Fox News, the Washington Post, and others. Law enforcement officials said they believed he was a military veteran, but that was an incorrect early report. Jared Lee Loughner, the alleged shooter, was obsessed with mind control.
Giffords, who in November narrowly won reelection to a third term, was hosting her first "Congress on Your Corner" event when a gunman ran up and began shooting her and others in her entourage with a Glock handgun, according to law enforcement sources.
Eyewitness Steven Rayle, a Tucson doctor, said he saw a young man wearing sneakers and what appeared to be navy blue sweats approach Gifford with a semi-automatic handgun raised. The man shot Giffords once in the face, he said.
After Giffords fell, he said, a number of people near Giffords sought to flee but were trapped--hemmed in by the table and a concrete post. The gunman fired into the crowd, he said.
"It was so close, and sort of a tight thing, there was nowhere easy to run," Rayle said. "So most of the crowd got it, you know."
"People that were there were just sitting ducks," Rayle said. "I don't think he was even aiming. He was just firing at whatever."
After a few seconds, Rayle said, the man stopped shooting and tried to flee.
Details are emerging about the assassin.