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Rep. Gabrielle Giffords shot in Tucson rampage; federal judge killed
Loughner was tackled by two people in the small crowd that had formed around Giffords, and he was taken taken into custody. A 9mm Glock handgun was recovered. It had what police described as "an extended clip."
Dozens of friends and colleagues gathered at the Capitol on Saturday night for a vigil for Giffords. A somber Obama addressed the tragedy late Saturday afternoon.
"It's not surprising that today Gabby was doing what she always does - listening to the hopes and concerns of her neighbors," Obama said, referring to Giffords by her nickname. "That is the essence of what our democracy is all about. That is why this is more than a tragedy for those involved. It is a tragedy for Arizona and a tragedy for our entire country."
Giffords,who narrowly won reelection to a third term in November and was sworn into office Wednesday, was hosting her first "Congress on Your Corner" event of the new Congress when the gunman appeared, law enforcement sources said.
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 raised semiautomatic pistol. The man shot Giffords once in the face, he said.
After Giffords fell, Rayle said, people near her tried to flee but were trapped by a table and a concrete post. The gunman fired into the crowd, he said.
"There was nowhere easy to run," Rayle said. "People that were there were just sitting ducks. I don't think he was even aiming. He was just firing at whatever."
An intern to the congresswoman who had nursing training was able to attend to Giffords before emergency workers arrived, a potentially critical intervention, a Giffords aide confirmed.
Law enforcement sources said the gun used in the attack was fitted with a magazine that held about 30 bullets. The shooter had another magazine that held about 30 bullets and two that held about 15 bullets each, sources said, and he also had a knife. Reese Widmier, manager of the Sportsman's Warehouse in Tucson, confirmed that the gun was sold by the store Nov. 30.
The shooting marked the first attempt on the life of a sitting member of Congress since the 1978 killing of Rep. Leo Ryan (D-Calif.) while investigating the Peoples Temple cult compound in Jonestown, Guyana.
Although Loughner's motive remained a mystery, the incident was viewed by many in the political world as a grim bookend to a bitterly contentious campaign season, in which Arizona and Giffords featured prominently.
Last March, Giffords was one of 10 House Democrats who were harassed for their support of the national health-care overhaul. After Giffords voted for the final bill, the front door of her Tucson office was shattered in an early morning act of vandalism.