Posted: Jan 10, 2011 6:24 AM by Bea Karnes
TUCSON, Ariz. (MSNBC) - A 22-year-old man charged with trying to assassinate U.S. congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in a shooting spree that killed six people and wounded 14 was due to appear in court Monday on charges of murder and attempted murder.
Doctors were optimistic that Giffords would recover after undergoing emergency brain surgery, but she was still in critical condition in a Tucson hospital.
The attack in Tucson Saturday has fueled debate about extreme political rhetoric in the United States after an acrimonious campaign for congressional elections in November.
The U.S. government has charged the suspected shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, with two counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted assassination of a member of Congress and two other counts of attempted murder.
President Barack Obama called on Americans to observe a moment of silence on Monday at 9 a.m. MST to commemorate the victims. He was due to appear on South Lawn of the White House to lead the nation in honoring them.
"It will be a time for us to come together as a nation in prayer or reflection, keeping the victims and their families closely at heart," he said Sunday in a statement.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described the shooter as an "extremist" Monday when asked by a student at a town hall-style meeting in United Arab Emirates why U.S. opinion often blamed the entire Arab world for 9/11. Clinton said this was due to misperceptions and the media impact of political violence.