I'd been to a couple of Congressman Walz's famous stops at Hyvees and other grocery stores to observe and report on the Mankato Democrat and his staff listen to constituents' concerns. Over the years, I've got on a friendly footing with the staff, and knowing that those shot in Arizona are probably much like my friends here--kind, caring people who work hard for the people the boss serves--was a bit of a gut punch.
And I know other staffers for representatives and our two senators--so the notion that one of them might be murdered at work is chilling indeed. My sympathies go out to the victims and their families; it must be particularly brutal for the family of the dead child to go through such heartbreak.
We should be able to meet with elected officials without fear. And when people are angry--as Americans sometimes are--a soft answer should be able to turn away wrath, as Minnesota witnessed in the confrontation between Governor Dayton and a group of Tea Party protesters earlier this week.
Reactions to today's shooting are coming in from around the state and nation. Congressman Walz sent out the following statement:
Gwen and I are devastated. This is an unthinkable tragedy for our nation. Attacks on public servants and their staff have no place in America. Our thoughts and prayers are with Gabrielle, her husband Mark, Gabrielle’s staff and their families, and the families of everyone who was hurt or killed today.
Photo: Congressman Walz talking to Southern Minnesotans in a local grocery store, 2008.