Giffords shooting in Ariz. recalled ‘forever’
One year ago this Sunday, a lone assassin walked up to U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords outside a suburban supermarket and shot her in the head, then continued blasting away at others who were waiting to see the congresswoman.
Retired space shuttle astronaut Mark Kelly hugs his wife, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, on Oct. 6 after he received an award during a White House ceremony from Vice President Biden, left.
It’s an anniversary that no one in Arizona wants to celebrate, but all will remember.
As smoke cleared and sirens wailed, a federal judge, a 9-year-old girl and four others lay dead or dying. Giffords, D-Ariz., was wounded along with 12 other victims. And 22-year-old suspect Jared Loughner, subsequently diagnosed as psychotic, was pinned to the ground by bystanders.
The morning massacre ended in a matter of seconds, but Pima County, Ariz. Supervisor Ann Day said repercussions linger for a community, a state and a nation.
“It was just a tragedy beyond words,” she added. “The impact will forever be with us.”
Day, a friend of Giffords, spoke Wednesday just after completing a dedication hike on the Gabe Zimmerman Memorial Trail, named for a congressional aide killed in the attack on Jan. 8, 2011.
This week, dozens of Arizona memorial events are planned, including candlelight ceremonies, religious services, concerts and a symposium on political decency.
Giffords is scheduled to attend a Sunday vigil at the University of Arizona emceed by her district director, Ron Barber, who also was wounded in the attack. Pia Carusone, Giffords’ chief of staff, said the congresswoman “felt it was important to be in her hometown with her family, staff members and a few close friends.”
Giffords, 41, is just one of many victims struggling to overcome emotional trauma and physical wounds — in her case, brain damage. A nation watched as the congresswoman battled to survive, walk and regain a halting ability to speak. In May, she was able to watch her astronaut husband, Mark Kelly, successfully complete the U.S.’ final space shuttle mission. The couple describes their ordeal in the book, Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope.
Giffords, who has yet to announce if she will seek re-election this year, continues to undergo therapy.