In an emotional press conference carried by major news
organizations Saturday, Pima County, Ariz., sheriff Clarence Dupnik
suggested to a national audience that radio and TV vitriol could have been
a factor in the killing spree in Arizona Saturday that left a
congresswoman gravely injured, a federal judge and five others dead, and more
than a dozen more wounded.
He spoke of "all the vitriol we hear inflaming the
American public by people who make a living off of doing that. That may be free
speech," Dupnik said, but that vitriol and political rhetoric
"is not without consequence."
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) had her office windows
broken after her vote in March in favor of healthcare reform. At press
time doctors were optimistic she would survive, despite being shot in the
head at close range.
Dupnik, who identified himself as a friend of the murdered
judge as well as Giffords', said unbalanced people respond to such
vitriol, and that Arizona had become a mecca for prejudice and
When asked by a reporter how they know that was a cause, he
conceded: "You don't."
According to authorities, a total of 19 people were shot by
a 22-year-old gunman who authorities also said was targeting Giffords
at a Saturday meet-and-greet outside a Tucson Safeway. A second suspect was
also being sought who may have been involved in the shootings, Dupnik
Congress canceled all votes for next week in the wake of the
shooting, according to CNN. "I am horrified by the senseless attack on
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and members of her staff," said
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). "An attack on one who serves is
an attack on all who serve. "
"I want to assure the people of Arizona and every
American that we will hold accountable anyone responsible for these heinous
acts," said Attorney General Eric Holder in a statement late Saturday.
As part of its coverage, Fox aired some tape of an
interview with Giffords it had conducted only the day before.