Shooting Victim Threatens Tucson Tea Party Leader
January 16th, 2011
James Eric Fuller, 63, a naval air veteran who was shot in the knee and had bullet fragments in his back as a the result of last week’s shooting at Rep. Gabrielle Gifford’s meet-and-greet at a Tucson Safeway, was involuntarily committed for a mental-health evaluation after allegedly threatening a Tucson Tea Party leader during a local town hall meeting:
The theme of the event was “An American Conversation Continued” — the idea being to continue the conversation that a madman’s brutal rampage had interrupted. So it was inevitable that the conversation would eventually turn to politics. It did, toward the end, with (ABC News Anchor Christiane) Amanpour leading a discussion on a very touchy but obvious topic: gun control.
That’s where the atmosphere turned tense. 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.”
When State Rep. Terri Proud (R-Tucson) rose to explain and clarify current and proposed gun legislation in the state, several people groaned or booed her. One of those booing, according to several witnesses, was Fuller. Witnesses sitting near Fuller told KGUN9 News that Fuller was making them feel very uncomfortable.
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!”
Sheriffs deputies detained Fuller and charged him with one count of threats and intimidation, and said they plan to charge him with at least one count of disorderly conduct. Humphries said that he plans to press those charges. The Associated Press reports that Fuller was taken to a local mental health facility for evaluation.
The town hall meeting at St. Odilia Catholic Church was organized by ABC-TV to discuss the shooting which killed six people and wounded thirteen, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Many Tucsonans were outraged when Humphries tried to blame the shooting on Gabrielle Giffords for not providing security at the event held at a Safeway parking lot. He also tried to cast the Tea Party as an additional victim in the tragedy.
St. Odilia had been the host of a community memorial service on January 11. Two of the six killed were Catholic, including nine-year-old Christina Taylor-Green who attended St. Odilia and sang in the parish’s children’s choir. Meanwhile, the Safeway where the shooting took place reopened yesterday morning following a moment of silence. Across town, a gun show opened at the Pima County Fairgrounds as originally planned and with nary a peep of protest. Things really are starting to get back to normal around here.
Update: Fuller apologizes:
Fuller apologized through his girlfriend, Dorothy Deruyter. He has been in a hospital since being involuntarily committed Saturday for a mental health evaluation but wrote a statement and called Deruyter.
Fuller apologized for his “misplaced outrage.” Deruyter said Fuller has no family or children, and was coping with the shooting almost entirely on his own and lost his temper.
Fuller is still undergoing psychological evaluation and treatment. Based on this New York Times profile, it looks like Fuller was combative before the shooting.