In the Wake of the Arizona Tragedy, Threats Strike Colorado—and Local Pols Respond

January 11 2011, 10:00 AM

While Jared Lee Loughner appeared in federal court yesterday on charges of attempting to assassinate Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and killing six others in a shooting spree over the weekend, Colorado Congresswoman Diana DeGette urged stricter gun laws, while security patrols around U.S. Senator Michael Bennet were coincidentally in place.

It turns out that Bennet, a Democrat, like Giffords, was threatened just days before the Arizona incident. John Troy Davis allegedly called Bennet's office late last week to complain about Social Security benefits and then told a staffer he's schizophrenic, warning that he may resort "to terrorism" (via 9News). There's no indication the cases are related, Jeff Dorschner of the U.S. attorney's office tells The Associated Press, but there is at least one similarity in that both cases involve a person struggling with apparent mental health issues. Davis allegedly told the Bennet staffer, "I'm just going to come down there and shoot you all" (via The Denver Post).

Another disconcerting episode occurred on January 6 in Colorado Springs, when a man threatened to kill President Barack Obama. Donald Edward Hatten allegedly walked into an FBI office there and proclaimed, "I want to stop the voices, and I intend to kill the president" (via The Gazette). Hatten was arrested and charged yesterday with making threats against the president. Meanwhile, Congressman Ed Perlmutter, a Democrat who, like Giffords, regularly holds open meetings at grocery stores, isn't deterred by the atmosphere, saying he has not canceled any upcoming meetings (via 9News).

Looking for signs of less inflammatory political rhetoric, ABC News turns to the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, which joined with some 50 business organizations, unions, and nonprofits to send an open letter to Colorado political leaders encouraging them to pledge for "renewed civility in both the state and federal legislative process." According to the Post, the letter is not a response to the Arizona tragedy; it "has been in the works for weeks." Regardless, local lawmakers have reportedly acknowledged the civility request "with a shrug."