Reactions to Arizona shootings
President Obama makes a statement on Saturday at the White House regarding the shooting in Arizona.
January 8th, 2011
05:03 PM ET

Reactions to Arizona shootings

Reaction to Saturday's shootings at a political event outside a Tucson, Arizona, grocery store that killed several people, including U.S. District Judge John Roll, and wounded a number of others, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona, has come in from around the country. Here are some statements:

President Barack Obama

"This morning, in an unspeakable tragedy, a number of Americans were shot in Tucson, Arizona, at a constituent meeting with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. And while we are continuing to receive information, we know that some have passed away, and that Representative Giffords is gravely wounded.

"We do not yet have all the answers. What we do know is that such a senseless and terrible act of violence has no place in a free society. I ask all Americans to join me and Michelle in keeping Representative Giffords, the victims of this tragedy, and their families in our prayers."

Vice President Joe Biden

Giffords is one of the "finest members of Congress I know."

"She has spent her time in office working her heart out to improve the lives of the people she represents. She loves her husband and family above all else."

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer

"All of Arizona is shocked and deeply saddened by the horrific tragedy that transpired this morning in Tucson.

"I have been in contact throughout the morning with law enforcement officials, as well as Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup, and just a short while ago I spoke personally with President Obama. The president conveyed his heartfelt sympathies for our state, and our shared determination to ensure that justice is fully served.

"I am just heartbroken. Gabby is more than just a colleague, she is my friend. She has always been a noble public servant. My thoughts and prayers are with Congresswoman Giffords and her family, the Congresswoman’s staff and their families, and well as the other victims of this senseless and cruel violence."

John Roberts, chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

"The violence in Arizona today has senselessly taken … lives and inflicted tragic loss on dedicated public servants and their families. We in the judiciary have suffered the terrible loss of one of our own. Chief Judge John Roll was a wise jurist who selflessly served Arizona and the nation with great distinction, as attorney and judge, for more than 35 years. I express my deepest condolences to his wife Maureen and his children, as well as the other victims and their families. Chief Judge Roll's death is a somber reminder of the importance of the rule of law and the sacrifices of those who work to secure it."

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder

"Today's tragedy in Arizona was a senseless act of violence that has already resulted in devastating loss, including the death of Chief United States District Court Judge John Roll and four other individuals and the wounding of Representative Gabrielle Giffords and a number of others. All of those who were killed or injured and their families are in our thoughts and prayers.

"As the President said, FBI Director Mueller is traveling to Arizona to help coordinate the investigation. The FBI is working jointly with local law enforcement to investigate today’s events, and I have directed Department prosecutors and law enforcement officials to use every resource necessary to investigate this tragedy. I want to assure the people of Arizona and every American that we will hold accountable anyone responsible for these heinous acts."

Defense Secretary Robert Gates

"I am saddened to hear of the attack on Congresswoman Giffords and members of her staff earlier today in Tucson, Arizona. I have had an opportunity to interact with Congresswoman Giffords in her capacity as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, where she served on the Readiness and Air and Land Forces subcommittees. She is a strong supporter of America’s national defense, cares deeply about our men and women in uniform, and has pursued her oversight responsibilities with dedication. Our thoughts are also with her husband, Navy Capt. Mark Kelly, an aviator and astronaut of great distinction, as well as the families of the other victims of this attack. Ms. Giffords represents a new generation of principled and thoughtful political leaders that have come to Washington in recent years. We will miss her strong character and good judgment in the Congress during these important days ahead, and we are praying for her full recovery."

U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

"It is with the deepest sadness that we have received word of the attack on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, members of her staff, and her constituents. This terrible act of violence is a national tragedy, and today is a very sad day for our country.

"My prayers, and the prayers of all members of Congress, go out to her husband, Capt. Mark Kelly, their family, and to all of the staff and others who were victims of this horrible attack.

"Congresswoman Giffords is a brilliant and courageous member of Congress, bringing to Washington the views of a new generation of national leaders. It is especially tragic that she was attacked as she was meeting with her constituents whom she serves with such dedication and distinction."

Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, Democratic House whip

The attacks are "devastating" and "equally devastating to every American – to everyone who cares about our democracy."

"Congresswoman Giffords is a devoted and insightful public servant and a passionate advocate for her constituents-but more than that, she is my dear friend."

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio

"I am horrified by the senseless attack on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and members of her staff. An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve. Acts and threats of violence against public officials have no place in our society. Our prayers are with Congresswoman Giffords, her staff, all who were injured, and their families. This is a sad day for our country."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada

Reid hopes "those responsible will be brought to justice quickly."

"As a representative of a neighboring state, I have watched her career closely and admired her work on behalf of the state of Arizona."

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky

"This senseless attack today in Tucson is a national tragedy, and all America mourns those who lost their lives in the very act of public service. I join the entire Congress in condemning this horrifying act of violence, and on behalf of the entire Senate family, Elaine and I extend our deepest expressions of sympathy and heartfelt prayers to Rep. Giffords and the families of those who have been killed or injured. The U.S. Capitol Police are joining local, state and federal officials in this investigation. We appreciate their quick response and stand ready to assist in their efforts."

Pia Carusone, Giffords' chief of staff

"An unthinkable tragedy occurred at our Congress On Your Corner event today in Tucson. Our community has lost beloved friends and colleagues, and many more are injured. Our hearts and prayers go out to all of them and to those who are suffering the loss of treasured friends and family members.

"Congresswoman Giffords is dedicated to serving the people of Southern Arizona. It was in this spirit that our office organized today's event. We will make further statements as details become available. We offer thanks to the law enforcement, first responders, and medical personnel who work to save lives and mend the injured."

Richard Carmona, former U.S. surgeon general

"I am deeply hurt and disturbed. Some of these people were my friends. The (congresswoman) I knew very well, I worked with her for many years. The judge I knew very well, I worked with him. And so this is a very painful time for all of us. ... Our hearts are bleeding right now, for them and for their families, and for the others that were injured. This is a terrible tragedy and one, in all my years as a trauma surgeon or as a deputy sheriff, I've never seen anything like this in a community like ours."

John Wesley Miller, friend of Giffords' family, at hospital

"She was responding to commands, we're optimistic."

"She's a wonderful, wonderful young lady. I love her like a daughter."

"It's such a shock to think that someone could want to harm such a beautiful person, inside and out. Gabby is just a treasure of Tucson and our community. She's done so much to help us, to help our economy, to help us learn how to utilize solar energy. She's pro-business, (and) I'm a Republican for Gabby Giffords, so I just love her."

"We're all praying for her. She won't give up; she's a fighter. She's a wonderful woman.

Dr. Matt Heinz, friend of Giffords, at the hospital

"I, along with, I think, all of Tucson and my state, we're all thinking and praying for Gabby right now. There are a lot of close friends and of closer family here, and we're hoping and we're praying."

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona

“I am horrified by the violent attack on Representative Gabrielle Giffords and many other innocent people by a wicked person who has no sense of justice or compassion. I pray for Gabby and the other victims, and for the repose of the souls of the dead and comfort for their families. I beg our loving Creator to spare the lives of those who are still alive, heal them in body and spirit, and return them to their loved ones.

"Whoever did this, whatever their reason, they are a disgrace to Arizona, this country and the human race, and they deserve and will receive the contempt of all decent people and the strongest punishment of the law."

McCain, on the death of Judge John Roll:

"I am deeply saddened to hear that Chief Judge John Roll was killed today during the senseless act of violence against Congresswoman Giffords and other Arizonans. Words are inadequate to express such a profound loss to his family, friends, state and country, but it is appropriate to note that a man of great qualities and character was struck down today, and the wickedness of this atrocity, which included the murder of a small child, has broken the hearts of many and will be mourned for years to come. I am proud to have recommended Judge Roll to President Bush for the federal bench in 1991 and have been extremely proud of his work on the bench since then. I am most proud to have called him a friend. Judge Roll dedicated his life to public service and was admired by many for his integrity, kindness and love for the law, for the state of Arizona and our country. He began his career as a bailiff in the Pima County Superior Court and was at his death the Chief Judge for the District of Arizona since 2006. He distinguished himself in every office he held. He will be missed very much. Cindy and I are praying for his soul and for his beloved wife and children and the families of all the victims in this terrible moment of sorrow. Our state has lost a good man, a true and able advocate for justice for all and a great Arizonan. May God grant him perpetual peace.”

U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Arizona

Kyl called for "justice to be served fully and swiftly."

"I find it especially saddening that such a heinous crime would occur while she was fulfilling her congressional responsibilities."

Tea Party Express Chairman Amy Kremer

"We at the Tea Party Express are shocked and saddened to hear about the terrible tragedy that took place in Tucson today. It is appalling that anyone would commit such unthinkable violence against Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford, her staff, a sitting federal judge and the many other victims and families impacted.

"These heinous crimes have no place in America, and they are especially grievous when committed against our elected officials. Spirited debate is desirable in our country, but it only should be the clash of ideas. An attack on anyone for political purposes, if that was a factor in this shooting, is an attack on the democratic process. We join with everyone in vociferously condemning it.

"Our thoughts and prayers will be with all those affected today as the details unfold.”

U.S. Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-California, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee

"I join the entire House Armed Service family in my shock and sadness at the tragic shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Just before the holidays, Gabby asked me to visit Fort Huachuca in her district, an example of both her bipartisan spirit and a reminder of her unwavering support for our men and women in uniform.

"We offer her, her family, her staff and the victims of this heinous crime our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time."

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Washington, House Armed Services Committee ranking member

"I am deeply saddened by the senseless attack on Congresswoman Giffords, her staff and others victims of the shooting.

"I have served with Congresswoman Giffords on the House Armed Services Committee for years, and she is a dear personal friend. She is an extraordinary member of Congress and an outstanding member of the House Armed Services Committee.

"Her commitment to her family, our nation and our troops is unparalleled. I have never served with a more principled, dedicated member of Congress.

"Her family, as well as the families of everyone involved in this tragedy, will be in my thoughts and prayers."

Arizona state House Democratic Leader Chad Campbell

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Congresswoman Giffords, her staffers, others and their families. This is a horrific and senseless act, and we are all praying and sending out our thoughts for the victims today."

Arizona state House Assistant Democratic Leader Steve Farley, written statement

"I am honored to count Gabby as a close friend and I know she has always fought for Arizonans and is beloved by her constituents and the people of Tucson. She is one of the brightest and best and we all know through our hopes and prayers that she will fight through this. This is a human tragedy and we are praying for all the other victims who are here with her."

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

"Today's senseless and savage attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, her staff, and her constituents is an American tragedy. Congresswoman Giffords is known throughout Tucson and our nation's capital for her kindness, her considerable intellect, and her zest for life. Rep. Giffords is a trailblazer as the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. I am praying for her healthy and speedy recovery and the recovery of all those who are fighting for their lives. My thoughts are with her husband Mark and their family and all of the families of the men and women who were abhorrently attacked today as they were exercising democracy. The individual who perpetrated these attacks must face swift and certain justice."

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

"This hateful crime is a tragedy beyond words. I had the privilege of first getting to know Gabrielle Giffords when we served together on the House Armed Services Committee. More than just a rising political star and phenomenal talent, she is an incredible person. It is an honor to be able to call her a close personal friend. My thoughts and prayers are with all of the victims and their families."

U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-New Jersey

“We are all shocked and saddened by the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and other innocent people today. Rep. Giffords was innocently pursuing her interest in serving the public when she was shot in this maniacal act. America must not tolerate violence or inflammatory rhetoric that incites political violence.”

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont

"This senseless and cowardly shooting occurred as the congresswoman and her constituents were engaged in the kind of event that makes our democracy work and represents America at its best. Anti-government sentiment carried to a violent and deadly extreme is a sad reflection of America at its worst. America is better than this."

U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Missouri, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus

"I am shocked and devastated by the tragic events of this day. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is not only a colleague but a good friend, and the Congressional Black Caucus' thoughts and prayers are with her staff and her family during this horrific time.

"Even though we do not have all the answers yet, we are all too familiar with the violent and polarizing climate in which we live. There is no place in American society for such senseless and terrible acts of extreme violence. Those of us in leadership must be overly cautious of fanning the flames of extremism in hopes to prevent another horrendous tragedy such as this.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of all those injured today.”

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minnesota

"My tears are flowing, and I am stunned and angered that Gabby Giffords was savagely gunned down while performing her congressional duties. I am praying for Gabby, and my thoughts, prayers, and deepest sympathy go out to her family, as well as the families of each of the victims.

"Gabby Giffords governed with integrity and wisdom. We came to Congress together and I had the privilege of knowing her as a friend and colleague.

"It is my hope and expectation that the coward who carried out this horrific act of violence will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I extend my hand of friendship to her family and staff and will keep them in my prayers."

U.S. Rep. Mike Ross, co-chairman of the Blue Dog Coalition

"It is with profound sadness that the members of the Blue Dog Coalition received the news of this terrible act of violence against Congresswoman and fellow Blue Dog Coalition member Giffords and members of her staff. She is not only an exceptional member of Congress who has dedicated her life to serving the people of Arizona, but a true friend to all of us who have the privilege of serving with her.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Gabby, her family and the members of her staff."

John Morton, Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

"On behalf of the men and women of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), I was deeply saddened to learn of the shooting attack that gravely injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and took the life of Chief Judge John Roll earlier today in Tucson, Arizona.

"Congresswoman Giffords has always been a valuable partner to ICE in our shared effort to serve the nation and we pray for her recovery. All of us at ICE condemn this senseless act of violence and join the American people in seeking justice for the victims of this horrific act."

Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee

"Today's senseless act of violence is an attack on the American ideal and goes against our country's deeply held democratic values."

Randy Pullen, Arizona GOP chairman

"Arizona's Republicans are deeply saddened and mortified by the horrific shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the other 11 victims at an event this morning in Tucson.

"Senseless acts of violence like these are shocking, disturbing and have no place in our country. The thoughts and prayers of all Arizonans are with the victims and families during this terrible tragedy in our state's history. We sincerely hope that the responsible party is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin

"My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today's tragic shooting in Arizona.

"On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice.

"I am deeply saddened by reports that Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Chief Judge John Roll and others were attacked this afternoon in Tucson, Arizona. There is no place in our society or discourse for such senseless and unconscionable acts of violence. Gabby is a steadfast representative for southern Arizona and both she and John are dedicated public servants.

"The Department of Homeland Security has offered all possible assistance to the FBI and the Pima County Sheriff’s Office, who are leading the investigation. My thoughts and prayers are with Congresswoman Giffords, her family and staff, and all those who were injured in this difficult time."

Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich

"Please join us in praying for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and everyone shot in this tragic attack, as well as for their families."

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (via Twitter)

"Please join Janet and me in praying for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and all the victims of the tragic shooting in Arizona."

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (via Twitter)

"Today's horrifying shooting in Tucson shocks the conscience of decent Americans everywhere."
Rahm Emanuel, former White House chief of staff under President Obama
"What occurred today in Arizona is a senseless and horrific tragedy. Gabby is a friend, a former colleague, and a respected public servant who was doing what she loved most: meeting her constituents. She will be in Amy and my thoughts and prayers as she fights for her life, as will all of the victims."

The Rev. Al Sharpton

He called on churches to pray for the congresswoman and the families of those who were wounded or killed.
"In church services tomorrow, clergymen ought to address the senseless violence that has too often raised its head of late in the social and political discourse of this country."

Filed under: Arizona • Crime • Politics
soundoff (402 Responses)
  1. Larry

    Can everyone stop and lets all pray for the families and the ones killed and wonded. Show some respect and lets all pray for the next 24 hours. Please

    January 8, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bob

    Let's see the NRA spin this. The "We have a right to hunt and defend ourselves" argument doesn't hold water here. Joe Couch Potato shouldn't be able to go into Walmart and buy a gun that can kill 15 fifteen people in 30 seconds. The "I need it for home protection" is the silliest argument ever since (here's a stat the NRA has never been able to refute) if have a gun in your house it is twenty TIMES (not percent) more likely to be used against a family member than an intruder. Just last week news commentators were perplexed that murders of police officers by guns was up a staggering 30% in 2010. Gee, maybe its because of all those loosened gun laws that went into effect all over the country (with even more happening on Jan 1st)? Now you can wear a gun to church and to a bar- that's great idea mixing guns, Jesus, and alcohol. No sir, Bob. Can't see any problems that could arise from that mixture.

    January 8, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Catca

    I think it's fairly obvious that Sarah Palin did not intend for anyone to literally shoot a member of congress with her guns in the crosshairs thing pointed at congresspeople she wants unseated. I also don't think the tea party member who ran against the congresswoman meant for her to literally be shot when he wore military clothing during his campaign and invited supporters to shoot a M-16 rifle in the air as a show of their efforts to "gun" down the opposition. I also believe the early reports is that the gunman was a loner who was NOT connected with Sarah Palin's political action committee or with the tea party candidate's campaign but was more likely someone with far left political views (the congresswoman was a blue dog democrat). Having said that, it doesn't absolve Sarah Palin or the tea party candidate. Rhetoric combined with images of violence, even if meant to be taken figuratively, is dangerous speech when you're in the public eye. It paints a picture of violence being acceptable if it achieves your political means to someone who is not stable. It is reckless and let's hope this serves as a wake up call to politicians and others in the public eye to be more careful in choosing their words and images.

    January 8, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mike

    Rush Limbaugh et al need to be reigned in. Hate talk is incitement to unbalanced people. There is a huge difference between free speech and hate speech.

    January 8, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. jrnews

    This a a horrible tragedy and my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. The WINGNUTS are constantly fueling and encouraging this type of HATEFUL VIOLENT behavior, and actions need to be taken to hold the people who are inciting violence ACCOUNTABLE. As you think about what happened today, I hope you are thinking about TeaParty, Birthers, Rush, Sarah, Glenn, Hannity, Bachmann, Angle, DeMint, Brewer, Perry, Coulter, etc., and the messages that you hear from them on a regular basis. And if I see or hear any of these individuals on TV or radio saying they are shocked and saddened by this tragedy, I think I may vomit. Yes, it is WAY past time to stop believing their best lies, while ignoring the FACTS.

    January 8, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Kris

    Why am I not surprised. People have been waiting for somehing like this. Palin and Fox and Beck-all of them are responsbile! Palin shoots off her mouth, kills animals for photops and puts bullets into ther minds of guys like today. Beck is equally responsbile. I am sick of reading and hearing about their hate – I wish the media on levels would stop encouraging them.

    January 8, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • stevenation

      why do they get what they want ? How do we stop these ppl W/O violence ? HOW CAN WE STOP THEM UNLESS WE SHOOT THEM ?

      January 9, 2011 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
  7. ccc

    Hey, Sarah Palin! How do you feel now? You put a gunshot sight on this lady, now she's been shot and in critical condition. Still think it was a cute idea? You jack@$$!

    January 8, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fred

      Sarah Palin is now Dancing with the Killers ....ops with the Stars and drinking and partying with Tea, reading the Bible and a gun in her arms. President of the United States of America. I don't think we are that stupid.

      January 8, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ibdjoker

    I have no problem with owning a gun for protection. I do have a problem with how many people think that owning a gun would simply stop these mindless shootings. If someone shot at him obviously they missed...him! Hopefully they didn'e hit someone else. No one can know if you will hit your target or an innocent bystander in a crowd of people running in all directions.

    January 8, 2011 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bruce2020

    Conservatives are funny people. They incite violence, hate, disrespect and fear, use these things to get elected and then when someone acts out on their suggestions, take no responsibility for anything. So Republicans have truly become the NIP, No Integrity Party.

    I think the Conservatives and Republicans now have a Platform that's a winner. Incite violence against people you don't like, motivate someone to shoot them and when the opposition is "Taken Out" there will be no one left but the NIP to take control.

    Now the U.S. has really become a 3rd World Country.

    January 8, 2011 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Death Panel Sarah

      What did you expect? They didn't take responsibility for the 'Second Great Depression', either!!

      January 8, 2011 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. RCTAZ11

    This is not a Democrat ,Republican,Tea Party or any other party deal. This is a fool who aquired a gun and killed and wounded AMERICANS. It makes no difference what party you do or don't belong too. Some idiot hear statements made by foolish people (Sarah Palin) and many many others and they decided they should react. I personally don't belong to any party. I have a mind of my own and don't require any advice from people who lie to Americans to pad their pockets I hope with my heart that Mrs.Gifford.pulls through this tragect day.

    January 8, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. prez1964

    All fanatic republicans (Palin and company) and Fox channel are responsable for this tragedy.

    January 8, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • stevenation

      they should be shot out of a cannon into another country

      January 9, 2011 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
  12. prez1964

    All fanatic republican (Palin and company, are responsable for this tragedy.

    January 8, 2011 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Thomas

    Most Republicans and a number of Democrats tout the virtues of the 2nd Amendment, yet are shocked and horrified when someone actually uses it. If people have the right to bear arms, logic would only follow that the same people will use them. Since guns have no other useful purpose but to injure and kill, why is there so much outrage over incidents like this one?

    January 8, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. sad

    The person who shot the gun is 100% responsible for this vicious act, but I think as leaders and public figures you have to be mindful of what you say and how it come across, because there are lunatics who will take it for what it is, Example: If you place someone face on a bulls- eye a lunatic follower my interpreted it as killed that person. If you are a public figure YES you are responsible for your actions and display to the public.

    January 8, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  15. StopTheMadness

    I m not trying to make light of the subject at all when I say this but does almost every comment given by all these politicians seem to be in a form letter standard? Can't they be a little more genuine when they come up with these responses. Seriously senseless comes up in almost every response saddened in every third, and tragic in 1 in every 4 it's like a form letter they all just changed a few words to make it seem like they wrote it.

    January 8, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
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