Officials warn of Arizona copycat attacks
WASHINGTON - Authorities are monitoring for potential "copycat" attacks on lawmakers after the rampage in Arizona on Saturday, House members were told in a bipartisan conference call with their leaders Sunday.
Following the deadly shooting that killed six and critically wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and injured several others, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) urged lawmakers to take precautions.
"I have also asked that the Sergeant-at-Arms, U.S. Capitol Police and FBI to conduct an in-depth security overview for members on Wednesday," Boehner told members on the call, along with a "bipartisan security briefing for district directors" of congressional offices.
Sunday, Republican leaders called off all votes scheduled for the upcoming week - including the vote to repeal the health care bill - allowing lawmakers to stay in their districts rather than return to Washington, if they choose to do so.
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said he expects to ask for a formal report on the shooting, addressing both the short-term concerns - including the likelihood of copycat incidents - and long-term issues with security.
Among the questions he wants answered, King said, are "Is this part of a larger movement? Is there any evidence he [the assailant] was motivated by organizational structure?"
FBI Director Robert Mueller, at a news conference in Arizona, echoed earlier advisories that there appears to be no connection between terrorist groups and accused shooter Jared Loughner, charged Sunday with the murder and attempted assassination of federal public officials. The killing of the federal judge is a murder charge.
"Given this tragedy, all logical precautions are in place to best ensure the safety of other public officials," Mueller said, "but there is no information at this time to suggest any specific threat remains."
King said he conferred at length with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano about the case Saturday night, and said he was pleased to learn that Homeland Security agencies, including immigration enforcement, customs and border patrol, and the Transportation Security Administration assisted the FBI.