Entries in Gabrielle Giffords (86)


Gabrielle Giffords to Complete Last Event as Congresswoman

Gabrielle Giffords pictured with her husband Mark Kelly. ABC/Ida Mae Astute(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will make her last trip to Tucson as a member of Congress on Monday to complete an event that was interrupted last January when a gunman opened fire, killing six people and injuring 13 others, including Giffords.

Giffords was holding her “Congress On Your Corner” event at a suburban Arizona supermarket on Jan. 8, 2011 when Jared Loughner shot her in the head.  Since then, the Democratic congresswoman has made a remarkable recovery, regaining her ability to speak, but much work remains as Giffords noted on Sunday, when she announced she was leaving office.

“I have more work to do on my recovery and so to do what is best for Arizona I will step down this week,” she said in a two-minute video announcement of her decision, which was posted on her website and on YouTube.

In the video, Giffords also thanked those who prayed for her and vowed to make a comeback.

“I’m getting better every day.  My spirit is high.  I will return and we will work together for Arizona and this great country,” she said.

Monday's "Congress at Your Corner" event will be private, according to a statement from Giffords, and will feature some of the people who were injured during the shooting as well as some of the heroes of that day.

Also on Monday, Giffords will meet with community leaders who advised her on various issues.

The day after, she plans to attend President Obama’s State of the Union address.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


One Year Later: Mark Kelly on Gabrielle Giffords' Recovery

ABC/ Ida Mae Astute(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- One year after the tragedy in Tucson, Ariz., that almost claimed Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' life, the congresswoman is stringing together full sentences and even asking questions, her husband Mark Kelly told ABC News in an exclusive interview.

"She is continuing to improve each and every day," Kelly told ABC News' Dan Harris.  "Just the other day she started asking me a few questions in a row.  Back in March or April she hadn't asked a single question about anything."

In the most recent display of her progress, Giffords led a crowd gathered at the University of Arizona Mall in the Pledge of Allegiance Sunday night during a candlelight vigil held for the Tucson victims on the one year anniversary of the shooting.  Six people were killed on Jan. 8, 2011 and 13 others, including Giffords, were injured.

On the day of the shooting, Kelly spent 20 heart wrenching minutes after seeing an erroneous report that said his wife had died.

Jared Loughner shot her in the back of her head.  The bullet traveled the length of her brain on the left side and exited her skull.  Kelly boarded a friend's plane and rushed from Texas to the scene of the tragedy in Tucson.

This year has had its series of challenges, Kelly said, but Giffords continues to power through and reach new goals, just as she has all of her life -- both inside and outside of Congress.

"She gets disappointed.  You know it's a natural thing when you're struggling with this kind of injury and this kind of disability that's she's working really hard to recover from," Kelly said.  "But fortunately she's just a very positive person and somebody who works really hard and she can see the improvement so it usually doesn't last very long."

Speaking at the vigil Sunday night, Kelly, referencing his wife, said the survivors of the shooting have shown that healing is possible.

"We've even seen it here tonight, as my incredible wife Gabby led us in the Pledge of Allegiance," Kelly said to cheers from the crowd.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gabrielle Giffords: Tucson Marks First Anniversary of Shooting

Tom Willett/Getty Images(TUCSON) -- Bells will ring 19 times Sunday morning, once for each victim of the Tucson shooting that happened one year ago, ushering in an emotional day of remembrance that will culminate this evening in a candlelight vigil attended by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly.

"Congresswoman Giffords wanted to be back in Tucson for this very emotional weekend," said Pia Carusone, Giffords' chief of staff, in a statement.

What was supposed to be an ordinary January morning in Tucson turned into a nightmare that has haunted those who experienced the terror when Jared Lee Loughner, 22, unleashed a barrage of bullets on the crowd, after sending the first one straight through the back of Giffords' head.

After hitting the Congresswoman, Loughner continued to fire from his Glock semi-automatic pistol without discrimination, hitting 18 more people.

Among those hit, six people died, including Gabe Zimmerman, 30, Giffords' outreach director who organized the Congress On Your Corner event where he was shot to death; John Roll, 63, a federal judge; Phyllis Schneck, 79; Dorothy Morris, 76; Dorwan Stoddard, 76; and Christina Taylor-Green, 9.

As the first anniversary approached, seven survivors of the massacre stepped forward and shared their recollection of Jan. 8, 2011, with the Fix Gun Checks campaign, a byproduct of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns campaign, which seeks to keep criminals from illegally obtaining guns.

"Things went gray for me. I could just see shadows," Randy Gardner said in the video, which was posted online. Gardner was shot in his right foot while waiting to speak with Giffords.

"People were just spreading out in front of me like a wave, trying to go for cover, falling in the ground," he recalled.

Nancy Bowman, a nurse who was only a few steps inside the Safeway when Loughner opened fire at 10:11 a.m., said the scene was a "war zone" and that there was nothing in her 30 year career that could have prepared her for the carnage she witnessed.

"It makes you appreciate every single day," she said in the video. "It makes you wonder why you were five seconds into the Safeway and not standing right there where the gunman was.

What it sure to be a sad and trying day for the victims and the community will close with a ray of hope.

Giffords, who has made miraculous progress in her recovery, will attend a public candlelight vigil Sunday night in Tucson with her husband, Mark Kelly.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Young Tucson Victim's Parents 'Praying for' Giffords

ABC News(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- John and Roxanna Green's nine-year-old daughter, Christina-Taylor, was the youngest victim of last year's shooting in Tucson, the same spree that seriously injured Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

Twenty-three-year-old Jared Loughner, the accused killer, has been declared incompetent to stand trial, and sits in prison.

"I don't think about him," Roxanna Green told Nightline anchor Cynthia McFadden. "I think of, that she was, like, in a car accident."

The Greens said they had not attended any of the court proceedings and had no plans to, unless their participation were needed to serve justice.

"A waste of our energy," John Green said.

Asked what their reaction would be if the incompetent-to-stand-trial ruling stood and Loughner simply remained incarcerated, the Greens said they could accept it.

"As long as he never hurts anyone ever again, and is never able to get out...I would be OK with that," said Roxanna Green.

If Loughner did end up convicted of murder and executed, would the Greens take some comfort from his death?

"Not really," said John Green, who nonetheless supports the death penalty, according to Roxanna Green's new book. (She does not.) "It's not going to bring my girl back."

Loughner is never mentioned in As Good As She Imagined, the book Roxanna Green wrote with best-selling author Jerry Jenkins, which came out Jan. 3.

The Greens met with Congresswoman Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, over the Thanksgiving holiday, they said. Giffords and Kelly gave the Greens' son, Dallas, a model rocket signed by Kelly, an astronaut.

"We just kind of hugged each other and supported each other and said, you know, we're all in this together," John Green said. "We wanted to make sure they didn't harbor any guilt."

"It was nice to tell her in person that, you know, we love her, we're praying for you, and we hope you get better every day," Roxanna Green said.

President Obama met with the Greens in Tucson before the memorial service for the victims and survivors of the shooting.

"He said, 'There aren't any words, I'm so sorry,' and he gave us both a huge hug, and so did Mrs. Obama, and it just felt genuine and special," recalled Roxanna Green. "They just know, because they're parents, and they have the two lovely daughters. And it was just very comforting."

The title of Roxanna Green's book comes from a line in the speech President Obama gave in Tucson: "I want America to be as good as she imagined it."

The Greens recently founded the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Foundation, which supports academic, athletic and arts programs in Tucson schools.

"We don't want anyone to ever forget about her, because she was an amazing little girl," Roxanna Green said. "She did exceptional work in the nine years she was here, and that's what our story is about. It's an inspiring story, and it's a story of hope."

Even having grieved and memorialized their daughter so fully, John Green said "moving on" was a hard, complicated prospect.

"There's times when I'm, uh, almost afraid to move on...or stop talking about her, because I know at some point the country is going to move on. That's why we thought it was important to tell this story, because there's going to be other tragedies in the world....But, right now our little girl is right on point, and people are learning things from her, so that, I guess that's a source of pride, and [there's] a sense of fear that, you know, some day that, that may go away."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gabrielle Giffords: ‘I Want to Get Back to Work’

ABC/Ida Mae Astute(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- In new audio message posted to her Facebook page, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head on Jan. 8 at a Tucson shopping center, told her constituents on Tuesday, “I want to get back to work.”

“Hello this is Gabby Giffords,” the audio recording begins.  “I miss you, I miss Tucson, the mountains, blue skies, even the heat.”

Giffords, D-Ariz., who was featured in an exclusive report detailing her recovery on ABC News’ 20/20, says, “I’m getting stronger.  I’m getting better.”

In the message, the three-term Congresswoman refers to the other victims in the shooting and pledges to improve her language skills to better express her feelings about the event.

“It has been a hard year -- for all of us.  Thinking of that day makes me sad.  Six people died.  Six innocent people.  So many people hurt,” Giffords says.  “There is lot to say.  I will speak better.”

Since the shooting, Giffords has returned to Congress just once to vote in favor of the deal to increase the debt limit on Aug. 2.

Near the end of her message, Giffords reveals that she wants to return to Congress and says that her staff has kept her informed on her constituents’ behalf.

“I want to get back to work.  Representing Arizona is my honor,” she says.  “I miss you, I miss home.  I will see you real soon.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Speaks Out in First Interview Since Shooting

ABC/Ida Mae Astute

(NEW YORK) -- For years, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords fought for her causes in Congress, fought her way through 10-mile hikes and runs with her friends in Tucson, Ariz., and with her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, fought -- through in vitro fertilization and fertility drugs -- to have a child.

But on Jan. 8, all of that changed.  Following the shooting of 19 people at a meet-and-greet in Tucson, Giffords fought to survive a near-deadly gunshot to the brain, and after that, she had to fight once again for the life she wanted back.

"Difficult," Giffords says in her first interview since the shooting, with ABC News' Diane Sawyer.

Giffords still struggles for the right words to form sentences, a condition called aphasia that is common in brain injury patients.  She has undergone months of intensive speech and physical therapy to try and rebuild the connections in her brain that were severed when a bullet entered just over her left eye, traveling through the left side of her brain.

"It's clear that any lower, it would've killed her, any further midline, it would've killed her," Kelly tells Sawyer.  "If it crossed hemispheres, it would've killed her.  Any further outboard, she'd never be able to speak again.  Any higher, she'd never be able to walk."

Giffords' remarkable journey to recovery and the love story that brought her and Kelly together is the subject of a new book they worked on together, called Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope.

In the beginning of the book, Kelly writes that he and his wife hoped that 2011 would be "the best year of our lives." Kelly would command the last flight of the orbiter Endeavor, Giffords would begin her third term in Congress, and the two would hopefully conceive a child together.

Instead, 2011 was punctuated first with terror and grief: 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner apparently targetted Giffords at a public event, fatally shooting six people and wounding 13 others, including Rep. Giffords. Since then, her daily routine has been hard work, occasional setbacks and personal triumphs.  Together, Giffords and Kelly learned what survival really meant.

"She was sitting in her wheelchair, tears running down her face. She was hyperventilating, absolutely panicked," Kelly told Sawyer.  "I saw how scared she was.  I got scared, too.  I just held her, and said, you know, 'We'll get through this.'"

It is that determination, along with Giffords' own personal strength, that shine through in exclusive home videos taken by Kelly and their family that will be seen for the first time as part of the Diane Sawyer special.

Kelly and Giffords' family decided to document every milestone of her recovery, realizing some day Giffords would want to know what had happened to her.

Gabby and Mark: Courage and Hope, a Diane Sawyer Exclusive, airs Monday, Nov. 14 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Steals Show at Husband’s Retirement Ceremony

Captain Mark Kelly hugs his wife Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords after receiving the Legion of Merit from Vice President Joe Biden during Captain Kelly's retirement ceremony in the Secretary of War Suite in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, in Washington, D.C., Oct. 6, 2011. Official White House Photo by David Lienemann(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Gabrielle Giffords honored her husband’s career in the U.S. Navy at the White House Thursday, standing on her own to pin the Distinguished Flying Cross medal on his jacket for commanding the fourth and final flight on the space shuttle Endeavour.

While the retirement ceremony was intended to focus on Capt. Mark Kelly’s impressive career, his congresswoman wife’s presence took center stage as Kelly thanked her “for your boundless friendship and optimism as our family has traveled this road over the last eight months.”

“Gabby, you remind me every day to deny the acceptance of failure,” Kelly told his wife. “I look forward to the next phase of our life together and watching all of your future achievements.”

Photos taken of the Arizona congresswoman attending the ceremony show a beaming Giffords wearing a red jacket adorned by a Members’ lapel pin reserved for representatives. She also wore black pants and running shoes.

Approximately 50 guests were seated in the room, which is decorated with the first U.S. flag to fly over Paris after the liberation at the end of World War II.

Vice President Joe Biden, who presided over the ceremony, commended Kelly for leading the shuttle in May and he also spoke directly to Giffords.

“I don’t use the word loosely. You are an inspiration. You’ve been inspirational, people looking, saying ‘I can make it, I can do this,’” Biden said. “You have spoken to the whole country.”

“As vice president I get to work with an awful lot of people who devote their lives day to day to public service,” he added. “But it’s not every day you encounter examples of sheer, sheer courage, selflessness and dedication, like you see in this couple.”

At a news conference later Thursday afternoon, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that it was “really a thrill” to see Giffords.

“I was very impressed,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said of Giffords, who has been recovering privately in Houston from a bullet wound to the head. “I’ve seen Gabby probably about once a month since the eight months since the tragedy, and I was very impressed with the strength of her presence and how she walked in.”

Giffords held a bouquet of flowers and showed off a short haircut and eyeglasses, although her hair appears to have grown out a little since her last visit to Capitol Hill earlier this summer. Thursday’s visit marked the sixth time that Giffords has left Houston since surviving the assassination attempt in January.

In a landmark television event scheduled to air Nov. 14, Giffords and Kelly will share their remarkable story for the first time since the tragic Tucson shootings in an exclusive ABC News special with Diane Sawyer.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Judge: Alleged Tucson Shooter Can Be Mentally Fit to Stand Trial

Pima County Sheriff's Department(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- After getting feedback from doctors, a federal judge ruled Wednesday that alleged Tucson shooter Jared Lee Loughner can be made mentally competent enough to stand trial with further treatment.

Loughner, who has been in a prison mental health facility since May, is accused of killing six people and wounding 13 others -- including Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords -- in Tucson on Jan. 8.  If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

A psychologist who has visited Loughner nearly every day since March said on Wednesday that Loughner has clearly responded well to the forced medication -- especially over the last two months -- and believes Loughner will be restored to competency in the coming months.

The doctor said Loughner's thoughts are more organized, his memory has improved and that he is taking better care of himself.  But, the doctor added, Loughner is still very despressed.  A suicide note was found on his bed recently, and he remains on suicide watch.

As a result, Judge Larry Burns ordered further evaluations and updates on Loughner.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Accused Tucson Shooter Jared Lee Loughner Returning to Court

Pima County Sheriff's Department(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- The man accused of shooting Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and killing six others in Tucson, Arizona earlier this year will be back in federal court Wednesday.

The judge is expected to address the question of whether or not Jared Lee Loughner could ever be made well enough to stand trial.  He could order Loughner, who has been in a prison mental health facility since May, back to the hospital for months of additional evaluation.

Doctors at the facility say Loughner has been uncooperative and hostile.  They received court permission in June to forcibly medicate him in hopes of restoring his mental competency and thus, clearing the way for a trial.

But Loughner's lawyers have fought the involuntary treatments as illegal, harmful and potentially fatal to their client.  The forced medication was halted for awhile but was resumed two months ago.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Jared Lee Loughner Ordered Back to Tucson

Pima County Sheriff's Department(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Federal Judge Larry Alan Burns has ordered that Jared Lee Loughner return to Tucson, Ariz., to attend a hearing on his competency to stand trial for killing six people and wounding Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Loughner has been in a treatment facility in Springfield, Missouri, since May, when he was found incompetent to stand trial.

The government is asking the court to extend Loughner’s commitment at the facility for the purposes of restoring him to competency to stand trial.

Loughner’s lawyers oppose the extension and are asking the court to find that the government has “failed to establish by clear and convincing evidence that there is a substantial probability that Mr. Loughner’s mental condition can be improved such that the trial might proceed.”

The Bureau of Prisons has said in court papers that Loughner remains incompetent, but that he has “slowly responded to medication.”

Loughner’s lawyers say the forced medicine has made him worse.

“He is on a host of psychotropic medications,” they write in court papers, “all administered against his will."  The lawyers note that the side effects of the medication include restlessness, agitation, pacing, dizziness, thick tongue and constipation.

The hearing is set for Wednesday, Sept. 28, at 1:30 in Tucson.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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