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Long IslandPolitics

Parents of Ariz. shooting suspect devastated

TUCSON, Ariz. - The parents of a gunman charged with trying to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords expressed sorrow Tuesday for the "heinous events" in their first public remarks since their 22-year-old son was accused in the rampage that killed six people.

"There are no words that can possibly express how we feel," the family of Jared Loughner said in a statement handed to reporters outside their home. "We don't understand why this happened. It may not make any difference, but we wish that we could change the heinous events of Saturday. We care very deeply about the victims and their families."

Earlier, a neighbor described the parents as devastated and guilt-ridden. Jared Loughner's mother has been in bed, crying nonstop since the shootings, neighbor Wayne Smith, 70, told KPHO-TV. Amy and Randy Loughner want to know where they went wrong with their son.

"I told them they didn't fail. They taught him everything about right and wrong," Smith said. "We all know you can teach someone everything and have no control how it works out."

Jared Loughner faces federal charges of attempted assassination of a member of Congress, killing U.S. District Judge John Roll and attempting to kill a federal employee. Loughner, held without bail, could face the death penalty in Roll's death.

At Tucson's University Medical Center, Giffords remained in critical condition, but doctors said she is able to draw breaths on her own. Dr. Michael Lemole, Giffords' neurosurgeon, said, however, that doctors left the breathing tube in to protect her airway.

"She has a 101 percent chance of surviving," said trauma chief Dr. Peter Rhee. "She will not die."

Doctors initially thought the bullet entered the back of Giffords' skull and exited the front. But after reviewing X-rays and brain scans, two outside physicians brought in by Giffords' medical team now believe that Giffords was likely shot in the front of her head.

Giffords, a Democrat, has remained in critical condition at University Medical Center since Saturday when she was shot during a meeting with constituents outside a grocery store. The attack killed six and injured 14 others. Six remained hospitalized Tuesday.

In other developments:

The husband of Oceanside native Susan Hileman said his wife was holding hands with her 9-year-old neighbor Christina Taylor Green, waiting to meet Giffords, when gunshots rang out. Since then, Bill Hileman said he hears his wife scream, "Christina, Christina! Let's get out of here!" Susan Hileman was shot three times but is expected to survive.

Her husband had to tell her Saturday evening that Christina died at the hospital. "She's a tough, strong woman and a survivor," Hileman said.

The Arizona Legislature approved legislation to head off picketing by a fundamentalist Topeka, Kan., church at the funeral service for Christina. The Westboro Baptist Church said Monday it plans to picket tomorrow's funeral.

President Barack Obama was scheduled to arrive in Arizona today for a memorial service.


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