HOUSTON (AP) – Expect more security at events involving Texans in Congress after the shooting of an Arizona colleague left her critically hurt and six people dead.
U.S. Reps. Gene Green of Houston and Ted Poe of Humble on Monday afternoon took part in a ribbon cutting ceremony for a freeway interchange in Baytown, with police nearby, the Houston Chronicle reported.
The event happened two days after the wounding of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Ariz. A suspect, Jared Loughner, remained in custody Tuesday, accused of killing six people and wounding or injuring more than a dozen others, including Giffords.
Congressional aides made an extra call to make sure that officers would be at the Baytown event.
Police Chief Keith Dougherty said he was paying close attention to bystanders.
“You keep an eye on everybody,” said Dougherty.
Green, standing in the crowd, said he felt comfortable and would continue with planned public appearances, although they may include more law enforcement personnel.
“I don’t know if that will stop someone who is mentally ill that’s decided they want to hurt somebody, but maybe it’ll be a deterrent,” said Green. In a free country, you can’t shut down elected officials meeting with their constituents, he said.
“She (Giffords) was doing what we do: Get out among the public and talk to them about things that are important to people we represent,” said Poe.
Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee and Al Green of Houston met Monday for a moment of silence with more than 100 community members to honor the Arizona shooting victims.
Lee canceled another public appearance related to an anticipated debate on health care reform out of respect for the victims, she said.
Rep. Kevin Brady of The Woodlands also met with constituents Monday.
“I just want to make sure that just no average Texan ever hesitates to attend for fear of their safety,” said Brady.
Rep. Pete Olson of Sugar Land said he will continue going out and listening to his constituents.
“I for one am not going to let some deranged guy with some senseless act prevent me from doing what I swore to do when I got sworn in this past week,” said Olson.
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