Jared Lee Loughner was indicted by a federal grand jury for the Jan. 8 shooting rampage in Tucson, Arizona, that killed six people and wounded 13, including U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords.
Loughner, 22, in an initial three-count indictment, is accused of attempted assassination of a member of Congress and attempted murder of two federal employees, according to a statement yesterday by U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke in Phoenix.
“We are in the early stages of this ongoing investigation,” Burke said in the statement. “Today’s charges are just the beginning of our legal action. We are working diligently to ensure that our investigation is thorough and that justice is done for the victims and their families.”
The suspect was tackled by bystanders after he allegedly opened fire at a community meeting organized by Giffords outside a supermarket in Tucson. Giffords survived a gunshot through the head. The six killed in the attack included U.S. District Judge John Roll, as well as one of Giffords’s aides and a 9-year-old girl. Two members of Giffords’s staff were among the wounded.
Federal prosecutors filed a criminal complaint Jan. 9, charging Loughner with murder and attempted murder related to Giffords, Roll and the three members of Giffords’s staff who were federal employees. The filing of a grand jury indictment waives the need for a preliminary hearing in which a judge would decide whether Loughner should stand trial on the charges.
He is being held without bail in Phoenix and is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 24. Judy Clarke, Loughner’s lawyer, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.
He could be sentenced to life in prison if found guilty of attempted murder of a member of Congress, according to Burke’s statement. Loughner may face the death penalty if convicted of murdering a federal judge. Prosecutors needed to bring an indictment within 30 days of Loughner’s arrest, and indicting someone on charges that could result in the death penalty requires “a deliberate and thorough process,” Burke said.
Manny Tarrango, a spokesman for Burke, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.
Pima County prosecutors said Jan. 10 they are researching which charges to bring related to the other victims of the shooting and how to coordinate those with the federal case.
Giffords may leave University Medical Center in Tucson, where she had been in critical condition after undergoing surgery, as early as Jan. 21 to move to a rehabilitation hospital in Houston, according to a statement on the congresswoman’s website.
The federal case against Loughner will be handled by San Diego-based U.S. District Judge Larry A. Burns after federal judges in Arizona recused themselves. No requests have been filed in court by Loughner’s defense team to move the case out of Arizona.
The case is U.S. v. Loughner, 11-00035, U.S. District Court, District of Arizona (Phoenix).