President Obama and congressional leaders condemned the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords as news of the attack brought swift reaction from all political quarters Saturday afternoon.
“We do not yet have all the answers,” the president said in a statement. “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.”
In a statement, Speaker of the House John Boehner said he was “horrified by the senseless attack.”
“An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve,” he said. “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."
Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she received the news with the “deepest sadness.”
“This terrible act of violence is a national tragedy, and today is a very sad day for our country,” said Pelosi.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R), said she had "grown to love and respect" Giffords, and said the shooting had cast a shadow over Arizona.
"Tragedies happen, and people should be held accountable and responsible for their actions,'' Brewer said. It "certainly doesn't show favor on Arizona... but this is one of the horrible tragedies that we face. we need to move on and make sure those kinds of things don't happen." Brewer said she had ordered flags on state buildings to fly at half-mast.
The shooting shook up several of Giffords’ colleagues. Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva, whose congressional district neighbors Giffords’ along Arizona’s southern border, said during an interview aired by CNN that he was frightened for his safety.
“We don’t enter public life with the belief it’s a life-and-death situation,” Grijalva said. “To reach this point where we have lives hanging by threat … to be in that situation is completely frightening, and I’m still in shock about this whole situation.”
Lawmakers and other political officials need to tone down their rhetoric, the congressman said.
“There’s been so much anger, so much hatred that’s being generated, that those of us in public service have a right to feel threatened, and I do.”
Former Congressman Jim Kolbe, who represented the 8th District before Giffords,said the news stunned him.
"This is an assault on the very basis of our democracy,” he said. “She was getting out and meeting with her constituents -- that's what matters, that's what she should be doing.”
Cameron Joseph contributed