The gunman who carried out the Tucson massacre in the US has refused to say anything to police since he was taken into custody.
Meanwhile lawyers want the attorney who defended Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Timothy McVeigh and “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski called to defend Jared Loughner, who makes his first court appearance tonight.
He is charged with trying to assassinate US congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and killing six others as he ran amok with a handgun.
The shootings have prompted national outrage and debate about whether heated political rhetoric fuelled the incident.
Police said Loughner was not cooperating and had said “not a word” to investigators.
They were virtually certain 22-year-old Loughner acted alone, saying: “He’s a typical troubled individual who’s a loner.”
The court hearing in Phoenix comes just a few hours after President Barack Obama led a shocked and saddened nation in a moment of silence for the victims and their families.
Those killed included US District Judge John Roll, 63, and nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green, who was born on September 11, 2001, and was featured in a book called “Faces of Hope” that chronicled one baby from each state born on the day terrorists killed nearly 3,000 people in the US.
Others were Ms Giffords’ aide Gabe Zimmerman, 30; Dorothy Morris, 76; Dorwin Stoddard, 76; and Phyllis Schneck, 79.
Ms Giffords, 40, was still in intensive care at a Tucson hospital, after being shot in the head at close range. Doctors said she had responded repeatedly to commands to stick out her two fingers, giving them hope she may survive.
Neurosurgeon Dr. Michael LeMole said: “The best way to describe her this morning is that she’s holding her own.
“We don’t close the book on recovery for years,” he said, “so it’ll take as long as it takes. I think the real question will be how long it will take before she’s out of the woods.”
Meanwhile officials were trying to find a lawyer to represent Loughner asking that San Diego-based Judy Clarke to be appointed.
Ms Clarke is a former federal public defender who served on teams that defended McVeigh, a co-conspirator in the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma that killed 168 people; Kaczynski, whose mail bombs killed three and injured 23 others over two decades; and Susan Smith, a South Carolina woman who drowned her two sons in 1994.
Discoveries at Loughner’s home in southern Arizona, where he lived with his parents in a middle-class neighbourhood lined with desert landscaping and palm trees, have provided few answers to what motivated him.
Court papers filed with the charges said he had previous contact with Giffords. The documents said he had received a letter from the Democrat in which she thanked him for attending a “Congress on your Corner” event at a mall in Tucson in 2007.
Comments from friends and former classmates bolstered by Loughner’s own internet postings have painted a picture of a social outcast with almost indecipherable beliefs steeped in mistrust and paranoia.
Police are looking at a possible connection between Loughner and American Renaissance an online group known for white supremacist, anti-immigrant rhetoric.