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Arizona Shooting Victim Arrested For Threat Against Tea Party Leader

One of the victims of last Saturday’s shooting, who had previously publicly blamed Sarah Palin and the Tea Party for what happened, was arrested last night at a town hall event after making death threats:

Two things are clear from Saturday’s ABC News town hall meeting in Tucson.  One:  Tucsonans are eager to move forward and recover from last week’s horrible shooting rampage.  And two:  that process is going to be slow and painful.   That latter point was driven home by the arrest of a shooting victim, who threatened a speaker during the taping of the program.

ABC News Anchor Christiane Amanpour hosted the remarkable gathering of victims, heroes, witnesses and first responders.  It was the first time most of them had been together since Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a Safeway parking lot, killing 6, and wounding or injuring 14 others — a rampage that happened one week earlier almost to the hour.

On the platform with Amanpour were Col. Bill Badger, who helped tackle gunman Jared Lee Loughner; Daniel  Hernandez, who ran to help wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords while most people were ducking for cover, Patricia Maisch, who grabbed a magazine away from Loughner; Bill Hileman, whose wife, Susan, is still recovering from gunshot wounds.

On the front row was Kenneth Dorushka, who was shot shielding his wife from Loughner’s gunfire; and J. Eric Fuller, who was shot in the knee.

(…)

When Tucson Tea Party founder Trent Humphries rose to suggest that any conversation about gun control should be put off until after the funerals for all the victims, witnesses say Fuller became agitated.  Two told KGUN9 News that finally, Fuller took a picture of Humphries, and said, “You’re dead.”

(…)

The event wrapped up a short time later.  Deputies then escorted Fuller from the room.  As he was being led off, Fuller shouted loudly to the room at large.  Several witnesses said that what they thought they heard him shout was, “You’re all whores!”

Fuller, age 63, is a political operative who specializes in gathering petitions for ballot initiatives.   Before the program began, he passed out business cards to people sitting around him that read:
“Signatures
“Expediting Initiatives since 2006
“J. Eric Fuller
“Political Circulator.”

A Pima County Sheriff’s spokesman told KGUN9 News that the department has charged Fuller with one count of threats and intimidation, and said they plan to charge him with at least one count of disorderly conduct.  Humphries told KGUN9 News that he does plan to press those charges.

At the last word, Fuller has apparently been placed under mental health observation. Ironic considering that’s exactly what should’ve happened to Jared Loughner prior to January 8, 2011.

Update: Via Mediaite, here’s video of the from the town hall, with the audio boosted so you can hear Fuller’s “You’re dead” remark around the 0:28 remark:

Humphries remarks were, of course, non-controversial. Fuller is clearly a man with his own agenda notwithstanding his status as a victim.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Andy says:

    Considering what he just went through (ie. getting shot), PTSD is certainly a possibility. Although I know a lot of people on the right will begin pointing fingers, I don’t think anyone should be jumping to conclusions.

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  2. Marvin says:

    I think it’s pretty f&cked that a guy who actually got shot was arrested for threatening language… especially considering that those on the right deny that threatening language is even a problem in the first place.

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  3. Who’s the idiot at ABC News who thought it would be a good idea to put the shooting victims and a bunch of Tea Party people in the same room a week after the shooting?

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  4. James Joyner says:

    @Marvin: Nonsense. No one seriously argues that direct threats — or even direct incitement to violence — aren’t problematic or even actionable. It’s whether those using vaguely martial language to hype up a crowd to take absolutely legal action should be held complicit when someone clearly not their target audience acts in the way an insane person would that’s been at issue.

    @Stormy: Good question, indeed. I recorded the show, as I always do, and was annoyed that they were still milking this tragedy rather than doing hard news.

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  5. It’s almost like Jerry Springer putting two people he knows are in conflict right next to each other, provoking them to confront each other, and then acting suprised when a fight breaks out.

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  6. john personna says:

    It’s whether those using vaguely martial language to hype up a crowd to take absolutely legal action should be held complicit when someone clearly not their target audience acts in the way an insane person would that’s been at issue.

    No split hairs there. Remember the doctor’s opinion, found in the Financial Times:

    Jerrold Post, director of political psychology at George Washington University and author of Political Paranoia, said the alleged mental instability of the suspect did not mean that vitriolic political rhetoric played no part.

    “It was intended to be metaphoric. Having said that, there may be an emotionally unstable person who takes that quite literally,” he said.

    Dr Post, who worked on political violence at the CIA, said violence could be triggered by the broader atmosphere of heightened rhetoric and those Tea Party activists who carried weapons at rallies to show their literal adherence to the second amendment defence of gun rights.

    “Although the acts and the costumes, including carrying weapons, is meant to be symbolic … the audience is very heterogeneous,” he said. “And within that audience is going to be some who can be incited to carry out that act, particularly if their own life is falling apart.”

    Do we really need to set that high bar, for what is “complicit?”

    That helps us, and our society, how?

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  7. anjin-san says:

    So James, are second amendment remedies and watering that ol’ tree of liberty perfectly legal? Because to my ears, they are a pretty clear call for violence involving guns. I think you are a decent guy James. But you have a serious flea problem…

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  8. Pat says:

    I’m a liberal, but if I dude tells someone “You’re dead”, he should be charged. Maybe they’ll find that there were extenuating circumstances, or perhaps that he was distraught after the whole affair, and then they can drop charges. But someone shouldn’t be able to say that and get away with it like it’s alright. It’s not.

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  9. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Anjin, do you have any proof this shooter, Jared whatever ever listened to, read of or even knew existed, anything on the right? Anjin, I have never though much of you but now I know you and your ilk are low quality scum. It is either ignorant or stupid to keep up the drumbeat this has anything to do with any issue other than what Loughner had in his head about answers that Congresswoman gave him a couple of years ago. Maybe if that lefty sheriff had done his job none of those people would have been shot or killed.
    Anjin, you and people like you are responsible for this BS and for you and animals like Krugman, there is a special place in hell that even Hitler and Stalin are not allowed in.

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  10. Tlaloc says:

    “It is either ignorant or stupid to keep up the drumbeat this has anything to do with any issue other than what Loughner had in his head about answers that Congresswoman gave him a couple of years ago. ”

    So for years people have been saying “wow the right’s rhetoric is really over the top and completely unwarranted, it’s quite possibly going to incite violence.” And then after we’ve had several incidences of absolutely proven violence based on right wing propaganda (guy attacking the tides foundation, guy flying a plane into an IRS building, numerous attacks on democrat offices) we get another incidence which sure as hell looks like it comes from that same well spring of hate.

    But of course nobody should mention that. And we should totally ignore the instantaneous defensive reaction among the right because… uh it’s rude or something to point out that we were right all along. Or something.

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  11. Tlaloc says:

    “Anjin, you and people like you are responsible for this BS and for you and animals like Krugman, there is a special place in hell that even Hitler and Stalin are not allowed in.”

    Case in point about the defensive overreaction highlighting how damn guilty you are.

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  12. anjin-san says:

    Please note that my above post did not reference Loughner or the Geffords shooting. What are you ranting about Zels?

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  13. Pat says:

    @Tlaloc

    “Case in point about the defensive overreaction highlighting how damn guilty you are.”

    Errr… no. I’m likely with you in your political views, but that’s just antagonizing. No one categorizes “defensive overreaction” to TSA security as an admission of guilt, so why would that argument hold water here. If we’re going to advocate for bringing down the rhetoric, that applies to both sides.

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  14. Kate says:

    I think this guy had some built up anger and sort of lashed out with these threats due to a possible combination of some PTS and probably not liking Humphries in the first place. A threat is a threat, and I think being shot got Fuller all fired up at this rally. I do agree with humphries. Wait until the funerals or at least some of this stuff passes over.

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