Tuscon massacre shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner will make his first court appearance this afternoon. Loughner will appear before a federal magistrate in Phoenix, Arizona at 4P ET/2P MT, reports CNN. The suspect in shooting of Arizona Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has been charged with two counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder after the shooting rampage at Giffords' political event on Saturday.
The federal charges against Jared Loughner are related to the shootings of five federal employees, including the shooting deaths of U.S. District Judge John Roll and Giffords' staff member Gabriel Zimmerman, and the injuries to staffers Ron Barber and Pamela Simon.
Loughner has invoked his right against self-incrimination and is not talking with investigators, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said over the weekend. But court documents released Sunday show that investigators found a letter from the congresswoman in a safe at the house where Loughner lived with his parents, thanking him for attending a similar 2007 event. "Also recovered in the safe was an envelope with handwriting on the envelope stating, 'I planned ahead,' and 'my assassination' and the name 'Giffords,' along with what appears to be Loughner's signature," the affidavit says.
The items in the safe apparently form the basis of an assassination plot. Nick Baumann at Mother Jones (via Politico's Ben Smith) spoke to an associate of Jared Loughner, who claims Loughner's rage at Gifford was unleashed after she did not "satisfactorily" answer an esoteric question that he posed.
"He told me that she opened up the floor for questions and he asked a question. The question was, 'What is government if words have no meaning?' Giffords' answer, whatever it was, didn't satisfy Loughner. "He said, 'Can you believe it, they wouldn't answer my question,' and I told him, 'Dude, no one's going to answer that,'" Tierney recalls. "Ever since that, he thought she was fake, he had something against her."
"The 9mm pistol used in the shootings was purchased at a gun store in November, FBI Director Robert Mueller told reporters Sunday. And a law enforcement source said the suspect tried to buy ammunition at a Walmart, but was turned down because of his behavior. Another Walmart later sold him the ammunition, the source said."
Who would have guessed that it's easier for unstable extremists to buy 9mm weapons than ammunition?
Adds the Arizona Republic: "A federal public defender known for handling high-profile cases, Judy Clarke, has been appointed to represent Loughner, a federal judicial source said. Clarke defended 'Unabomber' Ted Kaczynski and assisted in the case of confessed al Qaeda operative Zacarias Moussaoui."