According to reports, Loughner (22), who was in custody Saturday after being tackled by two people at the scene of the shooting, was influenced by radical statements made by Tea Party members.
In March Sarah Palin revealed her list of 20 Democratic members of Congress she urged her followers to defeat. She illustrated her list with a map of the United States that displayed a rifle scope on top of each of the 20 districts she was targeting. One of the targeted districts was that of Giffords. Palin also tweeted, “Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!”
Palin condemned Saturday's assassination attempt.
Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik declared Arizona a “mecca for racism and bigotry” and blamed heated rhetoric on the right for the shooting of Giffords.
"When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous," said the sheriff. "And unfortunately, Arizona I think has become sort of the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.
"This has not become the nice United States of America that most of us grew up in and I think its time we do the soul-searching," said the sheriff.
"All I can tell you is that there's reason to believe is that this individual (Loughner) may have a mental issue. And I think that people who are unbalanced are especially susceptible to vitriol."
He said the shooter has a criminal past.
In Loughner's YouTube video, titled "My Final Thoughts," the 22-year-old Tucson resident defines a terrorist as "a person who employs terror or terrorism, especially as a political weapon."
He also says in the video that he "can't trust the current government" and that Americans "don't have to accept ... all the current treasonous laws."
"The government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar," he says.
In his profile on YouTube, Loughner wrote of creating a new system of currency and designing coins. "You're distributing your new currency lethally to people or you're distributing your new currency non-lethally to people," the video reads. In another video he wrote: "No! I won't pay debt with a currency that's not backed by gold and silver!"
Caitie Parker, a singer-songwriter from Arizona, said she had known Loughner when they were both teenagers and that he dropped out of school in 2006 after developing alcohol poisoning.
"I went to high school and college, and was in a band with him," she said on Twitter. "I can't even fathom this right now."
Parker described Loughner as a "political radical" and a "loner" who was "very philosophical." She claimed he was "oddly obsessed with the 2012 prophecy", which predicts the world will end next year.
Parker said Loughner had encountered Giffords once before in 2007 and had "asked her a question and he told me she was 'stupid and unintelligent'."
A page on MySpace, the social network, operated in Loughner's name contained a photograph of a handgun resting on a book titled "American History".
It also contained an apparent farewell message to his friends in which he wrote: "Please don't be mad at me... I cannot rest." The page was removed from the internet within minutes.
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