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Arizona shooting suspect charged with trying to assassinate Rep. Giffords

Federal authorities also charged Jared Lee Loughner, the Arizona shooting suspect, with two counts of murder. President Obama calls for a moment of silence Monday at 11 a.m. EST.

By Lourdes MedranoContributor / January 9, 2011

The US Capitol backdrops American flags flying at half-staff at the foot of the Washington Monument on the National Mall in Washington, Sunday. President Barack Obama ordered flags to be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds until sunset on Jan. 14. Suspect Jared Lee Loughner has been charged with trying to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

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Tucson, Ariz.

Federal authorities on Sunday charged Jared Lee Loughner with the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) of Arizona as well as the murders of the chief federal judge in the state and an aide to Ms. Giffords.

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Giffords, who remains in critical condition, was shot Saturday morning outside a Safeway in Tucson, where she was holding a "Congress on Your Corner" event to meet with constituents. Six people were killed by the gunman and 13 others wounded.

Mr. Loughner, 22, who was apprehended at the scene after being overpowered by people in the crowd around Giffords, likely will also face state charges. Other federal charges against Loughner include the attempted murder of two additional members of Giffords’ staff.

President Obama, who earlier described the shooting as "an unspeakable tragedy," called Sunday for Americans to observe a moment of silence Monday at 11 a.m. (eastern standard time) to honor the slain victims as well as those still fighting to live.

“It will be a time for us to come together as a nation in prayer or reflection, keeping the victims and their families closely at heart,” the president said in a statement. He signed a proclamation Sunday calling for flags to be flown at half-staff.

Court documents filed Sunday in the US District Court in Phoenix suggest that the violent attack was a premeditated assassination attempt. Federal investigators executing a search warrant on Loughner’s home opened a safe and discovered an envelope with handwriting stating “I planned ahead,” and “My assassination,” and the name “Giffords,” according to court documents. The envelope includes what agents said appears to be Loughner’s signature.

FBI Director Robert Mueller, who flew to Arizona after the shooting, said at a news conference Sunday in Tucson before the federal charges were announced that Loughner was not cooperating with the investigation but is believed to have acted alone. It was premature to speculate on a motive, Mr. Mueller said, but it "appears that the target was the congresswoman.”

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