Jared Lee Loughner’s disturbing mug shot has been released to the public. The 22-year-old man — accused of shooting 18 people outside a Safeway grocery store in Tucson, Ariz., including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords — appeared in court this afternoon where he was formally charged with one count of attempting the assassination of a congress member, among other counts of murder and attempted murder.
The shooting has given rise to national concern about the growing disdain between political parties and the rhetoric and tactics used to gain control. Some criticize Sarah Palin for her Republican campaign tactics including a target map indicating political districts as adding fuel to Loughner’s fire; while others point to his YouTube videos about mind control and government conspiracies as motivation.
Even Cuban leader Fidel Castro has written a column condemning the attack and blaming right-wing American politics and campaign tactics.
As of now, Giffords’ doctors maintain the politician is in critical, yet stable condition, responding to simple commands.
Gifford’s husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, has also released the following statement:
“On behalf of Gabby and our entire family, I want to extend our heartfelt gratitude to the people of Arizona and this great nation for their unbelievable outpouring of support. Gabby was doing what she loved most — hearing from her constituents — when this tragedy occurred. Serving Southern Arizonans is her passion, and nothing makes her more proud than representing them in Congress.”
“Like all Americans, we mourn the loss of Judge John M. Roll, Christina Taylor Green, Dorothy Morris, Phyllis Schneck, Dorwan Stoddard and Gabe Zimmerman, a fine man and beloved member of Gabby’s team,” he continued. “We must never forget them, and our prayers are with their families. Our hearts go out to everyone injured yesterday; we hope and pray for their quick recovery. We also extend our thanks and appreciation to all of the first responders, medical personnel, law enforcement, and Arizona citizens who acted swiftly on Saturday and continue to assist our community through this tragedy. Many stories of heroism are emerging, and they are a source of strength for us during this difficult time. We are forever grateful.”
“Many of you have offered help. There is little that we can do but pray for those who are struggling. If you are inspired to make a positive gesture, consider two organizations that Gabby has long valued and supported: Tucson’s Community Food Bank and the American Red Cross.”
Loughner will return to court Jan. 24 for a preliminary hearing.