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Shooting victim ordered away from Tea Party leader

TUCSON, Arizona (Reuters) - A victim wounded in the January 8 shooting spree in Arizona was ordered by a judge on Tuesday to keep his distance from a local Tea Party leader he was accused of threatening over the weekend.

Law enforcement personnel work on a crime scene where U.S Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot along with others at a Safeway in Tucson, Arizona January 8, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

The protective order obtained by Tucson Tea Party founder Trent Humphries against James Eric Fuller stems from a confrontation between the two men during Saturday’s taping of a town hall edition of the ABC News program “This Week.”

Fuller, 63, who survived gunshots to the knee and back from the deadly rampage 10 days ago, grew agitated at remarks made by Humphries, then stood up to snap a photo of the conservative political activist and shouted, “You’re dead,” police said.

Fuller was taken into custody by Pima County sheriff’s deputies and involuntarily committed for 72 hours of psychiatric evaluation.

The protective order issued in Pima County Superior Court forbids Fuller, a U.S. Navy veteran, from approaching Humphries’ home, church, children’s school or any other place he and family members are likely to be, Humphries said.

“I don’t know anything about this gentleman, what he’s capable of, or what he’s not capable of,” Humphries told Reuters, adding that he does not necessarily want Fuller to go to jail. “I want him to get the mental help he needs.”

Fuller was one of 19 people struck by gunshots fired into a crowd of people outside a Tucson supermarket on January 8. Six people were killed, and 13 others, including Fuller and Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, were wounded.

Jared Lee Loughner, 22, a college dropout described by authorities as having a history of mental disturbances, is charged as the lone gunman in the attack.

Sheriff’s department spokesman Jason Ogan said on Tuesday afternoon it was unclear when Fuller’s 72-hour holding period would officially lapse or whether he had yet been released.

Ogan said criminal charges accusing Fuller of threats, intimidation and disorderly conduct would be presented this week to the county attorney’s office, which will decide whether to prosecute the case.

Humphries said he felt ambivalent about the situation.

“Based on the lessons that we have just learned about past law enforcement contacts with Jared Loughner and how he was never ‘flagged’ because no legal complaints were ever filed, I do believe that care should be taken before dismissing all charges against Mr. Fuller,” Humphries wrote in an email on Sunday night.

Editing by Steve Gorman and Peter Bohan