NEW YORK (WCBS 880/AP) -- A leader of the New York State Tea Party called the shootings in Arizona a "deplorable tragedy" and said the group was offering its deepest condolences to the victims.
Executive Vice-Chairman Kurt Colucci said the Tea Party would not be incriminated for the actions of what he called "one maniac's reckless and senseless behavior."
"Although the New York State Tea Party and all of its members nationwide speak out passionately in regard to the future of our American nation, we have never and will never call on armed violence as a solution," he told WCBS 880's Ginny Kosola.
WCBS 880's Ginny Kosola talks to a leader of the NY State Tea Party
Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot along with 20 others Saturday in Tucson, Arizona. Six people died including an aide to Giffords, a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl.
The accused gunman, 22-year-old Jared Loughner, has been 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.
An official familiar with the investigation also said Sunday that local authorities were looking at a possible connection between Loughner and an online group known for white supremacist, anti-immigrant rhetoric.
Republicans were especially sensitive to suggestions that their side of the political spectrum was contributing to a more poisonous political environment.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., noted Sunday that the suspect in the Tucson rampage was connected to Internet postings that included Marxist and Nazi literature.
"That's not the profile of a typical tea party member, if that's the inference that's being made," he said on CNN.
Colucci again reiterated that Loughner's actions were unacceptable.
"Violence has no place in our nation or any civilized society regardless of the political divide that may exist," Colucci said.
"This attack was not simply on a member of Congress and other innocent citizens, but rather an attack on all Americans."
(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
for more features.