PHOENIX, Ariz. — Jared Loughner, head shaved, a cut on his right temple and his hands cuffed, stared vacantly at a packed courtroom Monday and sat down. His attorney, who defended "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski, whispered to him.
It was the nation's first look at the 22-year-old loner accused of trying to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
The three-term Democrat lay about a 100 miles away in a Tucson intensive care unit, gravely wounded after being shot through the head but able to give a thumbs-up sign that doctors found as a reason to hope.
Loughner seemed impassive and at one point stood at a lectern in his beige prison jumpsuit. A U.S. marshal stood guard nearby.
The judge asked if he understood that he could get life in prison -- or the death penalty -- for killing federal Judge John Roll, one of six who died in the shooting rampage at Giffords' outdoor meeting with constituents Saturday in Tucson.
"Yes," he said. His newly appointed lawyer, Judy Clarke, stood beside him as the judge ordered Loughner held without bail.
The judge ordered Loughner held without bail. The next court hearing was set for Jan. 24.
Throngs of reporters and television news crews lined up outside the federal courthouse, where the hearing was moved from Tucson. The entire federal bench there recused itself because Roll was the chief judge.
Ammunition purchased hours before
Loughner bought his ammunition at a Walmart store hours before the shooting, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
He was turned away from one Walmart when he tried to purchase ammunition but was sold the bullets at another Walmart nearby, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the case. Walmart later told the Journal that that Loughner was not turned away from the first store, but left before completing the purchase.
A Walmart official said Monday night that the company reached out to law enforcement after one of its employees recognized a picture of Loughner on television as someone who had been in a store.
"We stand ready to provide any information or video surveillance footage we may have to investigators that can help them as they work to determine all of the facts," said company spokesman Dan Fogleman in a written statement.
Also Monday, the Journal reported that Loughner's father has prepared a public statement. Citing a neighbor who met with the family, the Journal reported that the father, Randy Loughner, had written a statement, but wasn't sure when to release it.
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Giffords, a 40-year-old Democrat who was shot in the head, remained in critical condition but was able to follow simple commands, such as holding up two fingers when asked. Doctors at University Medical Center in Tucson said they were cautiously optimistic about her chances for recovery.
Sheriff Clarence Dupnik of Pima County, where the shootings occurred, said Loughner was not cooperating. He told ABC News the suspect had said "not a word" to investigators.
Dupnik said authorities were all but certain Loughner acted alone, saying "he's a typical troubled individual who's a loner."
But Dupnik told the TODAY show that political rhetoric may have contributed to Loughner's actions. "I think the tone of rhetoric that's occurred in this country over the past couple of years affects troubled personalities," he said.
Investigators were still going through Loughner's computer and e-mails to learn more about a possible motive.
Investigators said they had found an envelope at Loughner's residence with the handwritten phrases "I planned ahead" and "My assassination," along with the name "Giffords" and what appeared to be Loughner's signature.
Federal officials told NBC News they also found a note addressed to Giffords — but apparently never sent — in which Loughner expresses his strong dislike for her.
Those familiar with the letter described it as threatening but said it does not state that he intended to kill her. It is not clear when the letter was written.
Police said Loughner purchased the semi-automatic Glock pistol used in the attack in November.
Court documents indicated Loughner had bought the weapon legally from the Sportsman’s Warehouse in Tucson. The state's laws allow the carrying of concealed weapons.
The FBI's affidavit supporting federal charges indicates there is surveillance camera video of the shooting. "Your affiant reviewed a digital surveillance video depicting the events at the Safeway..." the affidavit says in part.
Loughner is being represented in federal court by Clarke, the lawyer who has helped defend several high-profile clients including Kaczynski, alleged 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui andSusan Smith, a South Carolina woman who drowned her two sons in 1994. He is charged with one count of attempted assassination of a member of Congress, two counts of killing an employee of the federal government and two counts of attempting to kill a federal employee.
Pima County authorities said they planned to pursue state murder charges against Loughner as well. "This is not just a professional matter for me but a personal one since I knew many of these victims,” Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall said, according to the New York Times.
The six killed included Roll, 63, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for Arizona, and 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, who was born on Sept. 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.
Green was recently elected as a student council member and went to the morning's event because of her interest in government.Story: Slain girl’s father: We wish we could have been with her
Others killed were Giffords' aide Gabe Zimmerman, 30; Dorothy Morris, 76; Dorwin Stoddard, 76; and Phyllis Scheck, 79.
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Gov. Jan Brewer scrapped wht was supposed to be a traditional State of the State address Monday to outline her political agenda to the state Legislature. Imstead, she used the forum to pay tribute to the victims.
"We will never be brought down," she said.
"Tragedy and terror sometimes come from the shadows and steal our joy and take away our peace," said Brewer, a Republican, who called Giffords "my good friend" and federal judge John Roll, who was among those killed, an "outstanding" public servant.
Brewer led lawmakers in a standing ovation for Daniel Hernandez, the intern on Giffords' staff whose quick action to fashion makeshift bandages and apply pressure to her head wound has been credited with possibly saving her life.
Doctors said Monday that Giffords' brain remains swollen, but the pressure hasn't increased.
"At this phase in the game, no change is good and we have no change," Dr. G. Michael Lemole Jr., the chief of neurosurgery at University Medical Center in Tucson, told reporters.
A single bullet traveled the length of her brain on the left side, hitting an area that controls speech.Slideshow: Mourning follows deadly shooting in Arizona (on this page)
She has been put into an induced coma but is being awakened frequently to check her progress.
The day before she was wounded, Giffords sent an e-mail to a friend in Kentucky discussing how to "tone our rhetoric and partisanship down." In the message, obtained by The Associated Press, the Democratic congresswoman congratulated Republican Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson on his new position as director of Harvard University's Institute of Politics.
She wrote him: "After you get settled, I would love to talk about what we can do to promote centrism and moderation. I am one of only 12 Dems left in a GOP district (the only woman) and think that we need to figure out how to tone our rhetoric and partisanship down."
Space station commander Scott Kelly, whose identical twin brother Mark Kelly is married to Giffords and is also an astronaut, led NASA in a moment of silence Monday as part of the national observance for all the victims of Saturday's shooting.
Flight controllers in Houston fell silent as Scott Kelly spoke via radio from space. "We have a unique vantage point here aboard the International Space Station," he said. "As I look out the window, I see a very beautiful planet that seems very inviting and peaceful. Unfortunately, it is not."
"These days, we are constantly reminded of the unspeakable acts of violence and damage we can inflict upon one another, not just with our actions, but also with our irresponsible words," he said.
"We're better than this. We must do better."
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on Monday said the shootings will prompt a review of safety precautions for members of Congress.
"When an elected representative is gunned down in the very act of exchanging ideas with his or her constituents, democracy itself is attacked," McConnell said at the start of his meeting with a group of students at Martha Layne Collins High School in Shelby County.
Of those injured in the shooting spree, eight were still hospitalized. Aside from Giffords, five were in serious condition and two in good condition.
Meanwhile, the leader of Westboro Baptist Church, an anti-gay Kansas-based church best known for picketing the funerals of slain U.S. soldiers and gay-pride gatherings, said its members will picket the funerals of the 9-year-old girl and five others killed in Saturday's attack. In a video, Fred Phelps says God sent the shooter to avenge the nation's sins.
"Thank God for the violent shooter," Phelps proclaims.
"We will remind the living that you can still repent and obey. This is ultimatum time with God."
Reuters, The Associated Press, NBC and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.