This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Public condemnation spread quickly across Utah on Saturday after the Tuscon, Ariz., shooting that left U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords fighting for her life and six people dead.
Both hopes for the congresswoman's recovery and questions about whether the suspected shooter's actions were politically motivated circulated in public discussion about the rampage allegedly carried out by 22-year-old Jared Loughner of Tucson.
Rep. Jim Matheson, a Utah Democrat, held a news conference at a Salt Lake City library after his brother, Tucson resident Tom Matheson, informed him of the shootings.
Calling Giffords a "good friend," Matheson said it's deplorable she was targeted at an event designed to talk to constituents about the nation's direction.
"This is a very tragic day. This is an outrage that this sort of thing could happen in our country … that is all about competition of ideas," Matheson said.
"When you're in the public domain, the best representatives listen to their constituents. They take the time to go out and meet lots of people. I know that is something Gabby Giffords valued. I hope everyone in the country rallies around Gabby and the other victims."
Matheson, a leader in the moderate-to-conservative Blue Dog Coalition, said he interviewed Giffords to join the coalition when she ran for Congress. He praised her dedication to the Science Committee and said Giffords had a passion for researching solar-energy issues.
Giffords, 40, was re-elected to her third term in November. She was a member of the Arizona House and Senate before coming to Washington. Giffords represents "one of the real up-and-comers in American politics," Matheson said.
Matheson said the shooting could lead to discussion about security policies for elected officials. He added that he has never worried about his own security on the campaign trail or at public events designed to gain constituent feedback.
But Saturday's events, he said, show "there are vulnerabilities."
"I'm sure this act will show there may need to be discussion on how to change that," Matheson said.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who works in an office next door to Giffords', said he contacted U.S. Capitol police Saturday after receiving what he considered an inappropriate Twitter message about the Giffords attack.
"People just need to calm down," Chaffetz said. "Take a deep breath. It's not the time or place for that. This type of senseless act of violence should never happen. My thoughts and prayers are with all of today's victims and their families. May God bless her and all those affected by this tragedy."
Rep. Rob Bishop worked closely with Giffords to ensure the solid-rocket booster, which is manufactured in Utah, remains part of NASA's next-generation space shuttle.
"This is sad; this is unfortunate; this is reprehensible; hopefully it will never be replicated again," he said.
Sen. Mike Lee said, "There is simply no excuse for such brutality, and it's especially unfortunate that she was attacked while serving those she represents."
And Utah's senior senator, Orrin Hatch, condemned "this senseless and brutal act of violence. … Acts and threats of violence have no place in our political discourse or in a civil society."