1 p.m. update: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is alive and responsive to commands after undergoing brain surgery, the medical center in Tucson announced. The surgeon who spoke said he was very optimistic for her recovery. Giffords was shot once in the head, the bullet going "through and through" one side of her brain, he confirmed. One patient, a child, is dead at the hospital.
NBC reports that federal officials have id'd the shooting suspect as a 22-year-old Arizonan. If this is his YouTube site, as reported, he appears to be a political nut of the mind control and conspiracy ilk.
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was making an appearance at a Safeway shopping center in north Tucson this morning when a young gunman walked up and shot her in the head at close range. The Pima County sheriff's office told news director Mark Moran of NPR station KKJZ that the 40-year-old Democrat has died, but the hospital is saying she is in surgery in critical condition. At least five others may be dead, and as many as dozen people were reported shot. Media accounts continue, depending on the sources. A suspected shooter is in custody, described by as in his late teens or early 20s. Giffords had been reelected to a third term from Arizona's 8th district in November. She is married to NASA astronaut Mark Kelly and they have two children. NPR, NYT, CNN, Drudge Report
12:10 p.m. update: A hospital briefing has been set for about 12:30 L.A. time, 1:30 p.m. in Arizona.
12:16 p.m. update: Capitol Police have just emailed all members of Congress to take prudent precautions with their safety.
12:23 p.m. update: Giffords had been targeted for defeat by the Tea Party and the campaign became very heated, with reports of vandalism at her Tucson office. Giffords last March, talking on MSBNC about the escalating rhetoric on the right, said that "Sarah Palin has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district and when people do that, they’ve gotta realize there are consequences to that action.” Palin's Facebook page today says, "My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today's tragic shooting in Arizona. On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice."
12:49 p.m.: A federal judge in Arizona, John Roll, was shot and possibly killed at the event, media reports now say. Roll was a 1991 appointee of President George Bush.