Jared Loughner, the 22-year-old gunman responsible for wounding 20 people, including Rep. Gabriel Giffords, D-Ariz., will face federal criminal charges, FBI Director Robert Mueller said Sunday in Tucson, Ariz.
Mueller and Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik both said they believe the gunman acted alone, downplaying earlier suggestions that Loughner had worked with an accomplice. The FBI is looking for a person who was present at the Tucson Safeway at the time of the attack, to determine whether he could be a witness.
"It would appear to us that the person may not have been involved at all," Dupnik said at a news conference Sunday.
"There is no information at this time to suggest any specific threat remains," Mueller said.
Miller declined to discuss potential motives, but said the filings in federal court this afternoon “may shed some light on that.”
Officials also credited a woman, who they did not immediately identify other than to say she was one of the shooting victims, for being the first to try to subdue the shooter, slowing him down as he attempted to reload his gun.
The FBI has been called in to the investigation because of the death of a federal judge, John Roll, the assualt on Giffords, and the death of her staffers, Mueller said. The Pima County law enforcement and the FBI are working together to determine the next steps for prosecuting Loughner. The charges filed Sunday won't preclude other charges, Mueller said.
This wasn't Loughner's first encounter with Giffords. He had previously communicated with Giffords' office and attended a 2007 event, Dupnik said.
Dubnik, in particular, has been openly frustrated since the shooting about the harsh vocabulary used by some activists that he believes lies at the root of the tragedy. "The rhetoric about hatred, mistrust of government" can inflame the public and "has an impact on people, especially those who are unbalanced personalities to begin with."
Mueller didn't argue the point. With "inciteful speech" widely available on the Internet, "that’s absolutely a challenge to us about lone wolves or lone attenders," he said.
Gun control is on everyone's minds, as people are questioning where Loughlin got the gun that caused so much damage. According to Mueller, it was purchased in November of last year.
Dubnik also expressed frustration at the open gun laws in Arizona. "The legislature at this time is proposing that students and teachers be allowed to have weapons in the schools and in colleges," he said. "Colleges ought to be run by the college presidents not the Arizona legislature, but that the ridiculous state to where we have come."