PHOENIX — The suspect in the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was hit with dozens of new charges as federal prosecutors formally accused him of killing six people and wounding 13 others during a Tucson shooting rampage.
Jared Lee Loughner was charged in a 49-count grand jury indictment this week stemming from a Jan. 8 shooting at a political event held by Giffords outside a grocery store.
“This indictment is comprehensive and is solid, and covers all the murdered and injured victims,” U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke said. “There are no distinctions at all between the victims. These victims were exercising one of the most precious and fundamental rights of American citizens.”
Giffords is recovering from a gunshot wound to the head at a Houston hospital. In recent days, she has been talking and singing some of her favorite songs as part of her speech and musical therapy.
Meanwhile, a photo taken of her moments before the shooting shows her listening intently as she talks with two constituents, one of whom also was injured.
Giffords is wearing a bright red coat and bold red necklace, and has her hands clasped in front of her as she speaks to Jim and Doris Tucker of Tucson.
Giffords’ staff posted the photo Friday on Facebook, drawing considerable comment.
One person wrote, “What a haunting picture.” Another wrote, “It is just so sad to know what is about to happen …”
Giffords spokesman C.J. Karamargin said Giffords held 20 Congress on Your Corner events, and constituents typically spoke with her individually.
“The way it worked was people had the chance to speak to the congresswoman one-on-one about any topic, and that’s what was going on when that photo was taken,” he said
The indictment against Loughner charges him in the murders of U.S. District Judge John Roll and Giffords aide Gabe Zimmerman, and with causing the deaths of four others who were not federal employees, including a 9-year-old girl.
Loughner also was charged with causing the death of a participant at a federally provided activity; injuring a participant at a federally provided activity; and using a gun in a crime of violence.
Loughner had pleaded not guilty to earlier federal charges of trying to assassinate Giffords and kill two of her aides.
His attorney, Judy Clarke, didn’t return a call and e-mail left at her office Friday.
Federal prosecutors haven’t yet said whether they will seek the death penalty against Loughner. But legal experts believe it’s a virtual certainty.
Loughner will likely face state charges in the attack as well, but will be tried first in federal court.
Loughner is expected to be arraigned on the new charges Wednesday in Tuscon.