YouTube videos that consisted of typed rants about mind control and the lack of intelligence of the 8th district. He eerily refers to himself in the past tense in his YouTube account profile, perhaps a hint of what he had planned to do, and did not expect to survive.
Is Loughner a madman; someone who is so mentally twisted that he indiscriminately sought out a large crowd - any large crowd - to take the brunt of his violent rage? Or did he carefully select the location where Representative Giffords' event was behind held because of his political beliefs? An Arizona sheriff referred to the state as a "mecca for hatred and bigotry" during a televised press conference about the massacre earlier this evening. In the past year, Arizona has been the subject of much controversy when Governor Jan Brewer signed the most aggressive immigration law in the nation, one that inspired an incredible amount of shock and horror. Not long after that, perennial Tea Party spokesperson Sarah Palin published a list of "targeted" Democrats she wanted defeated in the midterm election. The graphic that went along with the list displayed the cross-hairs of a gun over those congressional districts. One of those mentioned by name on that list was Gabrielle Giffords, who suggested this type of action could incite violence. Gabrielle Giffords would go on to win the election on November 2nd. Two months and six days later she lies in a hospital bed, fighting for her life after a bullet went through her brain - the result of being shot in the head at point blank range.
A total of eighteen people were shot today at the Safeway in Tucson. Six have been confirmed to have been killed. Five of them lost their lives at the scene, including federal judge John Roll, as well as Gabe Zimmerman, Rep. Giffords' Director of Community Outreach, who organized today's event. A nine year old girl died later this afternoon at a local hospital. She had recently been elected to her school's student council and was invited to attend the event by a neighbor who thought she would find it interesting to meet a Congresswoman.
Tonight as a forensic team sifts through the crime scene in Tucson, the parents of that nine year old girl are trying to understand why their child was taken so soon. Somewhere else, the parents of an accused shooter are trying to comprehend how he got where he is now, and so many others are attempting to make sense of why their lives were changed forever by an unspeakable act of violence this morning. The obvious hope on this night is for the survival of those injured today, but my additional hope is that even if this proves to be a completely random act that has nothing to do with politics, this will serve as a wake-up call as to just how ugly the political battleground has become, and it will herald a change.