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Tucson shooting survivor blasts Gosar for response to staffer’s violent messages

A survivor of the Jan. 8 Tucson shooting rampage has blasted U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar for his tame response to a staffer who posted violent messages on Twitter.

In a letter to Gosar, Patricia Maisch, who witnessed the shooting spree but wasn’t injured, said she was “disturbed and astonished” that the Northern Arizona Republican didn’t have a more forceful response to his staffer’s comments about brandishing a gun in a classroom and opening fire at a post office.

On July 8, when the congressman’s office accepted the resignation of Blake Schritter, Gosar’s Chief of Staff Tom Van Flein said “we accepted the resignation of a staff member that made a mistake.” But neither he nor Gosar had any other public comments on staffer Blake Schritter’s Twitter posts.

In light of the shooting, which killed six people and wounded 13 others, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Maisch said elected leaders must stand up to “such hateful, violent speech.” She asked Gosar to condemn Schritter’s comments.

“Your lack of comment about Mr. Schritter is incredibly disappointing, especially considering you are a fellow Arizonan and member of the same body of Congress as Gabrielle Giffords,” Maisch wrote. “As witness to the horrendous events of January 8, my firsthand knowledge that sometimes violent thoughts can turn into real violence, is not unfounded. Our leaders should be of a quality that actions like Mr. Schritter’s are not just swept under the rug.”

Schritter, a staffer at one of Gosar’s district offices, resigned after the Washington, D.C.-based publication Roll Call discovered Twitter messages he had posted under the handle “drunkenbs.”

In one post, Schritter, a graduate student at Northern Arizona University, wrote, “I can’t believe how unprofessional liberal professors can be. I’m sitting here, cleaning my gun, thinking…this is a classroom!!!”

In another post, Schritter wrote, “The line at the post office is moving at a glacial pace. I’m ready to open fire with a handgun to get some damn service!”

A spokeswoman for Gosar could not be reached for comment.

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