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Congresswoman Able to Communicate With Doctors; Second Suspect Sought

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Doctors treating Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords following yesterday's shooting rampage in Tucson that left six people dead and several injured say the congresswoman is responding to commands. Meanwhile, a second "person of interest" is sought by authorities investigating the tragedy.

Of the many heroes who prevented shooting suspect Jared Loughner from committing further mayhem was a woman who wrestled with the gunman as he attempted to reload his Glock 9-millimeter handgun, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik says. The woman already had been shot when she bravely wrestled a full clip away from Loughner before he was taken to the ground. Pima County Sheriff's spokesman Jason Ogan would not identify the woman at the time of this writing.

Giffords remains heavily sedated and in critical condition after she wasg shot "through the brain," University Medical Center director Pete Rhee says.

The main concern, he says, is swelling of the brain, but doctors have removed a large portion of the left side of her skull to alleviate any pressure that may build. Doctors say she's being awakened periodically and is responding to commands.

"Words cannot express the shock and devastation we feel about today's senseless attack. Our deepest condolences go out to the families of those who were slain, and our prayers continue for Congresswoman Giffords and the others who are struggling for their lives," Arizona Democratic Chairman Don Bivens says in a statement.

The second "person of interest" (pictured above) is not suspected of shooting anyone. He was, however, seen with Loughner

"We don't have any reason to believe at this time that that individual is a participant in this shooting," FBI Director Robert Mueller, on the scene in Tucson, says.

Dupnik went on to say, "We are still searching for the person of interest but are more satisfied in our minds that this person may not have been involved at all."

Mueller says Loughner is expected to be charged this afternoon with the assault on Giffords and the murder of Federal Judge John Roll. More charges will follow, Mueller says.

"This is an attack on our way of life," Mueller says.

Dupnik continued to blame extremist political ramblings for possibly contributing to pushing Loughner -- who he describes as unstable but not insane -- over the edge. He says, given the political climate, Arizona has become a hotbed for that type of rhetoric.

"[Arizona has] become a Mecca for prejudice and bigotry," he said yesterday. "That may be free speech, but it's not without consequence."

Check back to Valley Fever for updates.

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