NBC Washington - Darcy Spencer
News4's Darcy Spencer spoke to members of Congress about safety in the wake of deadly shootings in Tuscon.
The deadly attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has caused members of Congress to review their safety in Washington and in their home districts.
On Sunday afternoon, Capitol Police held a conference call with members of the House to brief them on the Arizona attack and plans for security going forward.
The Washington Post reported 800 representatives and their spouses participated. Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Capitol Sergeant at Arms William Livingood spoke on the call.
"We need to rally around our wounded colleague, the families of the fallen, and the people of Arizona's 8th District," Boehner said in the call. "And, frankly, we need to rally around each other."
Boehner said he had directed the FBI and U.S. Capitol Police to conduct an in-depth security overview for all members of Congress on Wednesday.
U.S. Capitol Police can't be present to protect every senator and representative when they travel to their home districts, Senate Sgt.-at-Arms Terrance Gainer told NBC Washington's Chris Gordon, but Capitol Police can help coordinate security with local law enforcement when congressmen and congresswomen do go home.
Gainer said members of Congress "need to communicate to us every time there’s a threat or something suspicious" so authorities can evaluate the incident and address it.
The House's scheduled legislative action has all been postponed for next week "so that we can take necessary actions regarding yesterday's events," Boehner said.
The flags of both chambers of Congress have been lowered to half-mast after the shooting.
Sunday afternoon, the federal District Attorney in Arizona filed five charges against the shooting suspect in custody. Jared Loughner, who was arrested at the scene yesterday, faces one count of attempted assassination of a member of Congress, two counts of killing and employee of the federal government, and two counts of attempting to kill a federal employee.
Investigators believe that Loughner deliberately targeted Giffords. The suspect had met the Congresswoman previously and a letter found at his house contained Giffords' name.
Giffords remained in critical condition on Sunday. University Medical Center surgeons in Tucson, Ariz., where Giffords is being treated, expressed guarded optimism about her recovery. The bullet went straight through Giffords' head did not cause as much damage as it could have because it did not cross between the two hemisphere's of the brain. Giffords was on a respirator so was unable to speak to doctors on Sunday, but she was able to respond to simple commands using hand signals.