With varying accounts still being reported, Congressman John Yarmuth, D-KY, released the following statement after the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, D-AZ, who was shot in the head Saturday when an assailant opened fire in an area where the lawmaker was meeting with constituents.
From Congressman Yarmuth:
“This was a shocking and cowardly act of violence against a dedicated public servant and a dear friend. Gabby is a member of our extremely close class of 2006 and we are devastated by this tragic event. My thoughts and prayers are with her family and her staff — as well as with the loved ones of the other innocent victims who were also shot today.”
According to a spokesman, Yarmuth and Giffords, who both were elected to Congress in 2006, were “close friends” who worked together as congressional classmates. Later today, Yarmuth is scheduled to speak about his colleague with members of the press as reactions to the tragic shooting continue to pour in.
From President Obama:
This morning, in an unspeakable tragedy, a number of Americans were shot in Tucson, Arizona, at a constituent meeting with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. And while we are continuing to receive information, we know that some have passed away, and that Representative Giffords is gravely wounded.
We do not yet have all the answers. What we do know is that such a senseless and terrible act of violence has no place in a free society. I ask all Americans to join me and Michelle in keeping Representative Giffords, the victims of this tragedy, and their families in our prayers.
UPDATE: According to MSNBC, Federal Judge John M. Roll was killed in the attack. The congresswoman is still in surgery.
UPDATE II: At a press conference, an emotional Yarmuth called Saturday’s deadly shooting spree at a congressional event in Arizona an “attack on democracy.”
“This tragic incident today is something that I feel very personally. Gabby is a dear friend of mine,” says Yarmuth. “This is an attack not just on a public official…it’s also an attack on our fellow citizens who were trying to participate in democracy. This is I hope, a wake up call.”
The rampage killed six people, including a 9-year-old girl and a federal judge, with 12 others injured, including Congresswoman Giffords, who was shot in the head. A Giffords spokesman told MSNBC that an unspecified number of her staff members were also wounded in the shooting.
Yarmuth and Giffords are close friends and were both elected to Congress in 2006.
Asked if today’s shooting will change security measures for members of Congress while in their districts, the founder of LEO Weekly said the shooting will prompt much greater attention to the way lawmakers organize, advertise and secure public events.
Yarmuth didn’t want to comment on whether the alleged shooter had any specific political motivations, but he did call attention to the rising temperature of the country’s political rhetoric.
Specifically, he pointed to former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin “targeting” Giffords district with cross-hairs during the mid-term election and former U.S. Sen. candidate Sharon Angle’s “Second Amendment remedies” comment, while speaking out against the state of Arizona’s lax gun control laws:
When asked if having a close friend almost killed would change his routine in the community, Yarmuth initially said it wouldn’t, however, he admitted that being assaulted is always in the back of a public official’s mind.
“I imagine we’ll all be a little more nervous for awhile,” he says. “I’d probably be naive to think that wasn’t going to happen.”