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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.

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Investigators had sought a second man, described as a "person of interest," for questioning, but Sunday night the Tucson Sheriff's Department said the man had been cleared. The man, who was seen in video surveillance tapes, is a cab driver who reportedly told detectives that he drove Loughner to the strip mall at 9:59 a.m. and had briefly followed Loughner while he sought change to pay his fare. Detectives are satisfied with the explanation, the Sheriff's Department said.

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Giffords was shot in the head at close range, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said. Doctors treating Giffords at University Medical Center described her condition Sunday morning as critical, but said she has responded to simple commands. Doctors say they remain cautiously optimistic about her prognosis. She remains on a ventilator.

In all, 20 people were shot. The six killed are: US district Judge John Roll, 63, who stopped by the event to say hello to Giffords. He had been the chief judge for the District of Arizona since 2006 and a federal judge since 1991; Gabriel Zimmerman, 30, one of Giffords’s aides; Dorwin Stoddard, 76, a retired construction worker; Christina Greene, a 9-year-old who wanted to meet Giffords; Phyllis Schneck, 79, and Dorothy Morris, 76.

The death toll might have been greater had bystanders not subdued the gunman and held him until authorities arrived at the scene, Sheriff Dupnik said.

The first to react was a woman identified as Patricia Maisch, who was there to get her picture taken with Giffords, the sheriff's department said. She rushed the gunman as he attempted to reload his semiautomatic weapon and her intervention allowed Roger Salzgeber and Bill Badger to tackle the gunman to the ground, and along with Joseph Zamudio, they restrained him for authorities.

Loughner, who has been characterized as “disturbed,” reportedly has attended similar events in the past, Dupnik said. According to the federal court documents, investigators also recovered from the suspect's safe an Aug. 30, 2007 letter to Loughner from Giffords’ office, thanking him for attending one of her public meetings at a Tucson shopping mall.


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