The 22-year-old loner charged with attempting to kill in cold blood a U.S. congresswoman and killing six others emerged in court and looked on unemotionally as a judge told him he could face the death penalty for the shooting rampage that shocked the nation.
Gabrielle Giffords is 100 miles gone in an intensive care unit, seriously wounded after being shot through the skull but able to give a thumbs-up sign that doctors established as a reason to hope.
Thirteen more people were injured in the bursts of firing at the Democratic congresswoman’s outdoor meeting with constituents Saturday outside a Tucson, Arizona, supermarket. Loughner was undertaken to the ground minutes after the shooting began, authorities said. He has been quiet ever since.
The shootings, which claimed the lives of six people, together with a federal judge, a congressional aide, and a nine-year-old girl, have prompted outrage throughout the U.S. and sparked a debate over gun control measures and whether toxic political rhetoric fueled the incident.
Jared Loughner, a slash on his right temple and in handcuffs, stared vacantly at the packed courtroom before sitting down to listen to whispered instructions from his newly appointed attorney, Judy Clarke.
The judge asked if he understood that he could get life in prison — or the death penalty — for killing federal Judge John Roll, in the shooting rampage.
“Yes,” he said. His lawyer stood beside him as the judge ordered Loughner held without bail.
President Barack Obama will take a trip to Tucson on Wednesday to have a word at a memorial service for the victims at the University of Arizona.