ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Alaskans are condemning Saturday's shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and at least 17 others at a Tucson, Ariz. grocery store. A federal judge and five others have died, while Giffords is in critical condition after being shot in the head.
Hundreds of Alaskans voiced their opinions on Twitter and stayed glued to TVs and computers for the latest updates. Some said their prayers are with family and friends, while others expressed outrage at the suspect detained by authorities, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner, saying it was scary that someone would go to such extremes.
“I think when you're an elected official, when you're a professional in any walk of life, you're vulnerable to (people who) get angry because expectations are higher, that you do a better job than the average person on the street -- you're more vulnerable to that,” said Alaskan Ty Harper.
“Personally, I think that's the kind of world that we are living in: where we have lost our faith and trust and in the democratic system and have, unfortunately, nut jobs on the planet that feel they can do anything,” said Alaskan Stanley Hansen. “And it's just -- and it just tells you all of us are vulnerable.”
Alaska’s congressional delegation denounced the shootings in statements issued Saturday.
"I join Alaskans and other Americans in being shocked over the horrifying events that unfolded in Tucson, Arizona today,” said Sen. Mark Begich. “It is a sad day in our country when a public servant and her constituents cannot gather to discuss important issues without fear of violence.”
“I mourn those who lost their lives in this senseless and tragic act of violence, and my thoughts and heartfelt prayers go out to Congresswoman Giffords, the other victims and their families,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
“This morning's events were nothing short of horrific,” said Rep. Don Young’s spokesperson, Meredith Kenny. “Congressman Young vehemently condemns this attack and is praying for the victims, their friends, and families.”
In the wake of the shootings, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is facing backlash over a map posted before the midterm elections on her website last March.
The map targeted the seats of 20 Congressional Democrats -- including Giffords -- from conservative districts across the nation who voted for President Obama’s health care bill, placing crosshairs over their districts. Red crosshairs were placed on the districts of three members who had announced plans to retire.
Palin expressed her condolences to the victims of Saturday’s shootings on her Facebook page.
“My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Representative Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today's tragic shooting in Arizona,” Palin wrote. “On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice.”
The map was taken down just after Saturday’s shootings -- but not before people criticized Palin, calling the image dangerous and inappropriate.