Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Shot By Gunman
by NPR STAFF
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was re-elected to a third term in November.
January 8, 2011
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head by a gunman at a public event in Tucson on Saturday. There are conflicting reports about whether she was killed.
The Pima County, Ariz., sheriff's office told member station KJZZ the 40-year-old Democrat was killed. At least nine other people, including members of her staff, were injured.
Giffords, who was re-elected to a third term in November, was hosting a "Congress on Your Corner" event at a Safeway in northwest Tucson when a gunman ran up and started shooting, according to Peter Michaels, news director of Arizona Public Media.
The suspect fired indiscriminately from about four feet away, Michaels said. A congressional official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity that the gunman was using an automatic weapon.
The suspect ran off and was tackled by a bystander. He was taken into custody. Witnesses described him as in his late teens or early 20s.
Giffords was transported to University Medical Center in Tucson.
Giffords was first elected to represent Arizona's 8th District in 2006. The "Congress on Your Corner" events, which she holds regularly, allow constituents to present their concerns directly to her.
Giffords' Tucson office was one of three damaged last March by vandals who targeted Democrats in advance of the U.S. House vote on the controversial health care legislation. A glass panel at her office was shattered, and at the time her staff said that it appeared the window had been damaged by a pellet gun.
Her fellow Arizona congressman, Republican Jeff Flake, reached Saturday on his way to the hospital recalled that he had last spoken with Giffords on the House floor during this week's swearing in.
"We have a fairly small delegation and we've met often," he said of Giffords, who in November beat back a tough challenge from a Tea Party-endorsed opponent.
"She got re-elected because she's tenacious," Flake said. "There was a very strong headwind against all Democrats and people did not expect her to come back to Congress.
"But she was tireless," he said. "Others may have held back after things happen — like the damage to her office. She was fearless."
Flake said emotions have been running high in Arizona over issues, including immigration.
"That's obviously an issue that is a very passionate one for a lot of people," he said.