Arizona Sheriff Dever Says Killer Alone Is Responsible for Shooting; ‘Frightening’ to ‘Lay Blame on Anyone Else’s Doorstep’

By Penny Starr | January 11, 2011 | 7:00 AM EST

Sheriff Larry Dever of Cochise County, Ariz. (Cochise County Sheriff's Department photo)

( – Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever said he does not understand why his friend and colleague, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, would suggest at a news conference following Saturday's shooting in Tucson that political ideology played a role in the tragedy.

At a press conference on Saturday, Dupnik said Arizona had become the “mecca for prejudice and bigotry” and that “the vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business” should, given events, prompt America “to do a little soul-searching.”

In reference to Dupnik’s remarks, Sheriff Dever told by telephone on Monday, “His words sadden me. He and he alone can define what he meant, just as the shooter of Gabrielle Giffords and all the others he killed and injured can only answer for himself.”

Dever said the alleged shooter, 22-year-old Jared Loughner, who was arrested at the scene and now faces numerous federal charges, including attempted assassination, is believed to have acted alone.  Loughner is accused of killing six people waiting in line to see Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). He injured another 13, including Giffords, who remains in critical condition with a bullet wound to the brain.

To blame anyone other than Loughner is misguided, Dever said. “If there is anything more frightening or sad about this event, it is that anyone would try to lay the blame on anyone else’s doorstep, other than that of the sick kid who carried this out,” Dever said.

Arizona's Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik (AP Photo)

John M. Roll, the chief U.S. District Judge in Arizona, 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, and one of Giffords’ staff were among those killed in the attack.

As reported earlier by, Dupnik has been criticized by fellow Democrats in the past for remarks he made about immigration, including his proposal that the legal status of children in Arizona public schools be checked.

At the same press conference on Saturday, Dupnik said, “But, again, I’d just like to say that when you look at unbalanced people, how they are, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. And, unfortunately, Arizona I think has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”

Arizona’s Pima and Cochise counties are located on the U.S. border with Mexico.