Congresswoman's attacker to appear in court today, charged on five federal counts

Tucson (Arizona, US), Jan.10 (ANI): Twenty-two-year-old college drop-out Jared L. Loughner was charged with five federal counts on Sunday, including the attempted assassination of a member of Congress, for his role in a shooting rampage that left 20 people wounded, six of them fatally, on Saturday morning.

According to the New York Times, evidence seized from Loughner's home, about five miles from the shooting, indicated that he had planned to kill Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Democrat of Arizona.

Documents filed in the Federal District Court in Phoenix, Arizona, said that an envelope found in a safe in the home bore these handwritten words: "I planned ahead," "My assassination" and "Giffords."

Loughner, who is believed to have acted alone, is in federal custody, and is scheduled to make his first appearance before a magistrate judge in Phoenix on Monday.

Congresswoman Giffords continues to remain in critical condition after, against the odds, surviving a single gunshot wound to the head at point-blank range.

Her doctors were cautiously optimistic that she would survive, and said on Sunday that they had removed nearly half of her skull to prevent swelling.

Meanwhile, there is an outpouring of grief across Tucson, as friends of the many victims joined complete strangers in lighting candles and offering tear-filled prayers.

Many across America were asking the same thing, and Arizona found itself on the defensive, with its top lawmakers asserting that the state was not a hothouse of ugly rhetoric.

President Obama called on Americans to observe a moment of silence at 11 a.m. Monday in honor of the wounded and dead.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said an intensive investigation was on to determine "why someone would commit such a heinous act and whether anyone else was involved."

Mueller added that discussions were under way to increase security for all members of Congress.

Capitol security agencies are planning to join the F.B.I. on Wednesday in a security briefing for members of Congress. Already, the United States Marshal's Service has increased protection for federal judges in Arizona. (ANI)

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