Warning signs on day of US shooting

2011-01-12 22:48

Tucson - Investigators revealed more disturbing details about the events leading up to the assassination attempt against a US congresswoman, including a menacing handwritten note in the suspect's home with the words "Die, bitch".

And on the day of the shooting, a mumbling Jared Loughner ran into the desert near his home after his father asked him why he was removing a black bag from the trunk of a family car, sheriff's officials said.

Loughner resurfaced later on Saturday at a grocery store where Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords was holding an event. There, authorities say, he shot 19 people, killing six, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl.

The rare assassination attempt on a US lawmaker and attack on the crowd stunned Americans. On Wednesday, President Barack Obama will visit Arizona and give a speech honouring those killed.

Meanwhile, Republican politician Sarah Palin accused journalists and pundits of inciting hatred and violence in the wake of the shooting. Palin has been criticised for marking Giffords' and other districts with the cross hairs of a gun sight in promotional material for Republican candidates ahead of last year's congressional elections.

In a nearly eight-minute video on her Facebook page early on Wednesday, Palin said vigorous debates are a cherished tradition.

"But especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible," she said.

In Arizona, investigators provided the new details about Loughner to The Associated Press and said they're still searching for the bag. They suspect it could contain clues into the 22-year-old man's motives.

Several notes

"The bag is very important to us," said Captain Chris Nanos, head of the Pima County Sheriff's Department's criminal investigations division. "What was in that bag and is there any relevance?"

Authorities previously said they found handwritten notes in Loughner's safe reading "I planned ahead," "My assassination" and the name "Giffords". Nanos and Rick Kastigar, the department's chief of investigations, and told the AP they also found notes with the words "Die, bitch", which they believe referenced Giffords, and "Die, cops".

All the writings were either in an envelope or on a form letter Giffords' office sent him in 2007 after he attended one of her political events, Nanos said.

Sheriff's deputies had been to the Loughner home at least once before the attack, spokesperson Jason Ogan said. He didn't know why or when the visit occurred, and said department lawyers were reviewing the paperwork and expected to release it on Wednesday.

Loughner's parents, silent and holed up in their home since the shooting spree, issued a statement on Tuesday, expressing remorse over the shooting.

"There are no words that can possibly express how we feel," Randy and Amy Loughner wrote in a statement handed to reporters waiting outside their house. "We wish that there were, so we could make you feel better. We don't understand why this happened.

"We care very deeply about the victims and their families. We are so very sorry for their loss."

The apparent target of the attack, Giffords, 40, was able to breathe on her own on Tuesday at an intensive care unit here, another hopeful sign of her progress, doctors said.

Meanwhile, several hundred mourners filled a Tucson church for a public Mass to remember the slain and pray for the injured. As people filed in, nine young girls sang Amazing Grace.

The youngest victim of the attack, 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, was a member of that choir.

- AP

Read more on:    gabrielle giffords  |  us  |  us shooting
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