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Authorities Say Giffords Was the Target

Will Seberger/Special to Roll Call

Additionally, three of Giffords’ aides were also involved in the attack, including Gabe Zimmerman, her outreach director. The 30-year-old Zimmerman, who had recently become engaged, died from his wounds.

According to Congressional sources, the other two aides injured are District Director Ron Barber and caseworker Pam Simon. Barber and Simon were both expected to fully recover.

Chief Judge John Roll of the U.S. District Court for Arizona was also shot and killed, according to numerous sources. While presiding over an immigration case in 2009, Roll received death threats and he testified before Congress in 2006 regarding the issue of illegal immigration.

According to court records, Loughner was arrested October 17, 2008, on unspecified criminal charges. Although what he was charged with remains unknown, a source familiar with the Marana County legal system said that in the case of misdemeanor offenses, city prosecutors will opt to dismiss the charges if the defendant agrees to participate in a “diversion” program, which they did in this case. Those programs can include community service, rehabilitation or a fine.

Whatever the charge — and type of diversion program Loughner received — the court records show that he completed it March 4, 2009.

Meanwhile, local officials were taking steps to ensure the safety of other lawmakers from the region.

Tucson Chief of Police Roberto Villaseñor said that his office had secured the homes and offices of other Congressmen in the area.

“We did that as a precautionary measure,” Villaseñor said.

President Barack Obama announced Saturday that FBI Director Robert Mueller was traveling to Arizona to oversee the investigation.

Giffords is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition and the New Democrat Coalition. Although a moderate, she was listed on former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s (R) “hit list” of Members whom Palin wanted defeated in 2010. Giffords’ office was vandalized during the health care debate by opponents of the reforms.

Giffords’ work on border issues, particularly drug trafficking, has also made her an enemy of the violent Mexican drug cartels. For instance, Giffords has worked on legislation designed to limit the cartels’ ability to smuggle money into the country using gift cards. Although typically used to provide small monetary gifts on temporary credit cards, the cards have been loaded with millions of dollars by cartels and then moved across the border to launder their funds, the aide said.

Around 5 p.m. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) and two staffers came to Giffords’ office carrying food for those gathered inside. A few moments later, a woman who would not give her name left a second bouquet of flowers in front of the Arizona Democrat’s office.

In 2009 an unidentified man brought a gun to a similar Congress on the Corner meeting at a Douglas, Ariz., Safeway.

Officer Marcus Gonzalez told Talking Points Memo at the time that the man had brought the weapon with him in a holster and that when he sat down, it fell out and onto the ground. Police did not file a report because they deemed it an accident.

Giffords is married to Navy Capt. Mark Kelly, who is also an astronaut scheduled to make a space shuttle mission in April.

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