"Pima County Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik, who is overseeing the investigation of Saturday's mass shooting that critically wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D), became an overnight sensation with his remarks that the "vitriol" in today's political discourse contributed to the incident and that Arizona has become "a mecca for prejudice and bigotry."
Dupnik's name was a top search term on Twitter Saturday night, with many of the tweets thanking him for his candor, and overnight, a Facebook page titled "Clarence Dupnik is my Hero" sprung up.
In a news conference Saturday evening, Dupnik condemned the "atmosphere of hatred and bigotry" that he said has gripped the nation and suggested that the 22-year-old suspect being held in the shooting was mentally ill and therefore more susceptible to overheated messages in the media.
"There's reason to believe that this individual may have a mental issue. And I think people who are unbalanced are especially susceptible to vitriol," he said during his televised remarks. "People tend to pooh-pooh this business about all the vitriol we hear inflaming the American public by people who make a living off of doing that. That may be free speech, but it's not without consequences."