One of the 19 victims of last week’s shooting in Tucson was arrested yesterday after standing up during a town hall-style meeting and shouting, “You’re dead!” to the leader of the Tucson tea party. The victim, J. Eric Fuller, has been charged with disorderly conduct and making a threat. and was involuntarily committed to undergo a mental health evaluation, according to the Pima County Sheriff’s Department.
The tea party leader, Trent Humphries, told TPM he hopes that if Fuller needs help, he gets it — especially if it’s the kind of help the suspected shooter never got.
“If pressing charges is the only way to make sure he gets the help he needs, we’ll probably do that,” Humphries said in a phone interview Sunday. “I’m not saying this guy’s Jared Loughner, but I can’t tell you for sure he’s not a danger to himself, me or the community.”
Fuller, who was shot in the knee and back last Saturday, was one of the victims who attended the taping of a town hall-style forum hosted by ABC’s Christiane Amanpour. The taping was aired today on This Week.
Toward the end of the forum, the topic of gun control came up. Humphries stood and suggested that any discussion of gun control should wait until after the victims’ funerals, noting that one of his neighbors was among those shot.
At that point, Fuller stood up, snapped a picture of Humphries, and yelled out, “You’re dead!” Humphries said the forum wrapped up a few minutes later and sheriff’s deputies ushered him out. They advised him, he said, to press charges against Fuller, if only to make sure he’s in the system.
Fuller also reportedly screamed, “You’re all whores!” as he was lead away.
“I don’t want to harm this man, he’s not an enemy,” Humphries said. “I want to make sure, if it is a mental thing, it’s really, really taken seriously because this can’t happen anymore,” he said, referring to the way Loughner apparently slipped through the cracks for years.
Fuller, 63, makes a living collecting signatures for political petitions. He told the New York Times this week that he had gone to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ “Congress on Your Corner” event in order to shout down any tea partiers who might appear. He also said he got into an altercation there with someone. The two were physically separated by Giffords’ aide Gabe Zimmerman, who shortly afterward was fatally shot.
In the interview, Fuller ranted against the tea party, calling it the “Tea Party crime syndicate,” and saying Republicans only “appeal to simple-minded rednecks.” He also noted that he had trouble sleeping after the shootings and had found himself increasingly angry.