Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Democrat of Arizona, was holding a meeting with constituents outside a Tucson Safeway grocery store when she was shot in the head according to ABC News. Six have died from the shooter’s actions including federal judge John Roll and a nine year-old girl the Associated Press reports.
Giffords is in critical condition following surgery at University Medical Center in Tucson. Doctors are optimistic about her recovery despite being about four feet away from the shooter at point blank range.
As many as 13 people were wounded when a gunman approached the Congresswoman and shot her at point blank range around 10 a.m. MST. She was holding a meeting known as “Congress on Your Corner” where Giffords met with constituents to voice their concerns to Washington. A nearby employee of a business reported hearing as many as 15 to 20 gunshots.
The shooter is in custody at the moment and is identified as Jared Loughner, 22. No motive has yet been determined. The FBI is now formally involved in the investigation of the shooting which happened outdoors in broad daylight.
Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik held a news conference in which he blamed media “vitriol” and said Arizona “has become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”
Giffords was reportedly one of the members of Congress who reported threats of violence against them in early 2010 because of the health care reform bill.
Giffords is the wife of astronaut Mark Kelly who was scheduled to be the commander of the final space shuttle flight of the Endeavour later in 2011. His twin brother Scott is currently the commander of the International Space Station. There is no word yet as to whether Kelly will still be involved in the shuttle launch later this year.
Giffords has served as representative since 2006 and serves on three committees in the House including the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee, the Science and Technology committee and the Armed Services committee.
The public event was posted to the Congresswoman’s website and stated she wanted to cut the salary of members of Congress. A bill Giffords introduced was designed to show support for those who are still facing a rough economy. It was also a way to show bipartisanship with her Republican colleagues.
CNN, “Arizona congresswoman among 12 shot at Tucson grocery.”
Schabner, Dean, “Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Shot at Grocery Store Event,” ABC News.
Associated Press, “AZ shooting targets US congresswoman, kills 6.”