LOS ANGELES, Calif.–People in the Southland and around the nation observed a moment of silence today to remember the victims of the Arizona shooting rampage in which six people were killed and 14 others, including a congresswoman, were wounded.
President Barack Obama issued a proclamation calling for the moment of silence at 8 a.m. Pacific time.
“It will be a time for us to come together as a nation in prayer or reflection, keeping the victims and their families closely at heart,” he said in the proclamation.
Flags at Los Angeles County facilities were lowered to half-staff in honor of the shooting victims.
Jared Lee Loughner, 22, who was described by various sources as mentally disturbed, is accused of going to a town hall-like event for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., in Tucson, and opening fire with a Glock pistol with an extended cartridge holding about 30 bullets.
Giffords, 40, was shot in the head and underwent surgery. She remains in critical condition and it was unknown whether she will be able to return to Congress.
U.S. District Judge John Roll, 63, who had stopped by to say “hello,” was among the fatal victims, as was Christina Taylor Green, 9, of Tucson, whose father is a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The other fatalities included Gabe Zimmerman, 30, Gifford’s director of community outreach; Dorothy Murray and Dorwin Stoddard, both 76; and Phyllis Scheck, 79, a Republican who reportedly had gone to the event to shake the congresswoman’s hand.
Loughner is in federal custody and has been charged with multiple counts of murder and attempted murder, along with attempted assassination of a member of Congress.
Authorities said they had recovered an envelope on which Loughner had written Giffords’ name and the word “assassination.”
She graduated from Scripps College in Claremont in 1993 and became the first student from the college elected to public office.
According to the college, she gave the commencement address at the school in May 2009, when she told seniors, “The safety of the world depends on your saying ‘no’ to inhumane ideas. Standing up for one’s own integrity makes you no friends. It is costly. Yet defiance of the mob, in the service of that which is right, is one of the highest expressions of courage I know.”
Christina was the daughter of Dodgers employee John Green, and a granddaughter of Dallas Green, who managed the Philadelphia Phillies to the World Series championship in 1980.
“She was born on 9/11. She came in on a tragedy and went out on one,” her father told CNN.
“We lost a member of the Dodgers family today,” Dodger owner Frank McCourt said in a statement. “The entire Dodgers family is mourning the death of John’s daughter Christina and will do everything we can to support John, his wife Roxana and their son Dallas in the aftermath of this senseless tragedy.”
Her father told the Arizona Daily Star that Christine had just been elected to the student council at her elementary school, and went to the event with a neighbor to see democracy in action.
“She was a good speaker,” her father said. “I could easily have seen her as a politician.”
She was born on Sept. 11, 2001, the day of the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, and was one of 50 newborns whose pictures were featured in a book called “Faces of Hope.”
A high-profile federal defense attorney who once practiced in San Diego was appointed to represent Loughner.
Judy Clarke served as executive director of Federal Defenders of San Diego Inc. from 1983 to 1991.
Her other clients have included “Unibomber” Ted Kaczynski, al Qaida terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui and Susan Smith, who drowned her two sons in South Carolina.
All were convicted or pleaded guilty, but none got the death penalty.
Loughner has not been cooperating with investigators, and no motive has been revealed for the shooting.
However, the carnage has re-ignited the debate over whether the nation’s political discourse has become too heated, and gun laws too lax.