LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — California members of the House of Representatives say the shooting of their colleague in Tucson won’t deter them from holding public events.
Democrats Lynn Woolsey of Petaluma and Mike Thompson of St. Helena told the Press Democrat of Santa Rosa that they would not react in fear to the shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Gifford.
Woolsey said from her home in Petaluma that she would continue to hold public forums and that such incidents should not be allowed to undermine the democratic process.
Thompson called Gifford a friend and said he had last seen her at the U.S. Capitol on Friday.
The shooting outside a Safeway supermarket Saturday morning badly wounded Gifford and left six others dead.
Doctors treating the Democrat provided an optimistic update about her chances for survival, saying they are “very, very encouraged” by her ability to respond to simple commands along with their success in controlling her bleeding.
Federal prosecutors charged the suspect, Jared Loughner, with one count of attempted assassination of a member of Congress, two counts of killing an employee of the federal government and two counts of attempting to kill a federal employee. According to investigators, a search warrant was carried out at the suspect’s home where they seized evidence suggesting Loughner planned ahead.
An unidentified man who authorities earlier said might have acted as an accomplice was cleared Sunday of any involvement. Pima County sheriff’s deputy Jason Ogan told The Associated Press on Sunday that the man was a cab driver who drove the gunman to the grocery store outside of which the shooting occurred.
The assassination attempt left Americans questioning whether divisive politics had pushed the suspect over the edge.
“There has been an increase in the violence of the rhetoric in politics in the last two or three years. But I never have been concerned for this kind of incident,” Congressman Brad Sherman, who represents the 27th District of California, told CBS2/KCAL9 in a phone interview Saturday. “I would hate to think the hundreds and hundreds of town hall meetings that my colleagues and I do around the country, really thousands, would now have to have security and metal detection, etc. and I hope very much that that isn’t the case. We’ll see what the fallout from this incident is.”
A shaken President Barack Obama called the attack “a tragedy for our entire country.”
In a brief statement Sunday morning, House Speaker John Boehner said flags on the House side of the Capitol in Washington will be flown at half staff to honor Giffords’ slain aide, Gabe Zimmerman. Boehner says normal House business this week is postponed to focus on any necessary actions in the shooting aftermath.
An outpouring of emotion came from politicians in Los Angeles, as well.
Sen. Barbara Boxer issued a statement saying her “thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those who perished in this horrific and senseless tragedy.”
“What a sad and tragic day this is to learn of the shooting of our dear friend and colleague Gabrielle Giffords and many others attending her congressional event in Tucson, Arizona,” Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles, said in a statement. “The vicious attack on Gabby and her constituents is nothing less than a despicable attack on all of us and our democracy.”
Gov. Jerry Brown also released a statement. He said he was “deeply saddened” when he learned of the shooting and that his “thoughts and prayers go out the friends and families of those impacted by this terrible tragedy.”
Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement Sunday that FBI Director Robert Mueller was traveling to Arizona to help coordinate the investigation.
Authorities said the dead included U.S. District Judge John Roll, 63; Christina Greene, 9; Giffords aide Gabe Zimmerman, 30; Dorothy Morris, 76; Dorwin Stoddard, 76; and Phyllis Scheck, 79. Judge Roll had just stopped by to see his friend Giffords after attending Mass.
Giffords spokesman C.J. Karamargin said besides the aide Zimmerman, who was killed, two other Giffords staffers were shot but expected to survive. Zimmerman was a former social worker who served as Giffords’ director of community outreach.
(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)