Entries in Tucson Shooting (38)


Gabrielle Giffords, Mark Kelly Launch Initiative to Curb Gun Violence

ABC/Ida Astute(NEW YORK) -- After she was gravely wounded by gunfire two years ago in Tucson, Ariz., former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, imagined a life out of the public eye, where she would continue therapy surrounded by the friends, family and the Arizona desert she loves so much.

But after the slaughter of 20 first-graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last month, Giffords and Kelly knew they couldn't stay silent.

"Enough," Giffords said.

The couple marked the second anniversary of the Tucson shooting by sitting down with ABC's Diane Sawyer to discuss their recent visit to Newtown and their new initiative to curb gun violence, "Americans for Responsible Solutions."

"After the shooting in Tucson, there was talk about addressing some of these issues, [and] again after [a movie theater massacre in] Aurora," Colo., Kelly said.  "I'm hopeful that this time is different, and I think it is.  Twenty first-graders' being murdered in their classrooms is a very personal thing for everybody."

During their trip to Newtown, Giffords and Kelly met with families directly affected by the tragedy.

"[The] first couple that we spoke to, the dad took out his cellphone and showed us a picture of his daughter and I just about lost it, just by looking at the picture," Kelly said.  "It was just very tough and it brought back a lot of memories about what that was like for us some two years ago."

"Strength," Giffords said she told the families in Newtown.

"Gabby often told them, 'You got to have strength.  You got to fight for something,'" Kelly said.

The innocent faces of the children whose lives were abruptly taken reminded the couple, they said, of 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, the youngest victim to die in the Tucson shooting at a Giffords constituent event.

"I think we all need to try to do something about [gun violence]," Kelly said.  "It's obvious to everybody we have a problem.  And problems can be solved."

Giffords, 42, and Kelly, 48, are both gun owners and supporters of the 2nd Amendment, but Kelly had strong words for the National Rifle Association after the group suggested the only way to stop gun violence is to have a "good guy with a gun."

There was a good guy with a gun, Kelly said, on Jan. 8, 2011, when Jared Loughner shot Giffords and 18 other people -- six fatally -- at her "Congress on Your Corner" event.

"[A man came out] of the store next door and nearly shot the man who took down Jared Loughner," Kelly said.  "The one who eventually wrestled [Loughner] to the ground was almost killed himself by a good guy with a gun, so I don't really buy that argument."

Instead, Giffords and Kelly are proposing "common sense" changes through "Americans for Responsible Solutions."

The first change the couple hopes to enact is to require a comprehensive background check for the private sale of firearms.

"I bought a gun at Walmart recently and I went through a background check.  It's not a difficult thing to do," Kelly said.  "Why can't we just do that and make it more difficult for criminals and the mentally ill to get guns?"

The debate over high-capacity magazines and assault weapons has been renewed after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

Kelly, a veteran of Desert Storm and a gun owner, said he doesn't believe an extended magazine is necessary for the sport.

"An extended magazine is used to kill people," he said, "lots of people."

Loughner used a magazine that had 33 rounds in Tucson, while accused Aurora shooter James Holmes had a 100-round magazine.  Adam Lanza, the Newtown shooter, used numerous 30-round magazines to load his Bushmaster AR-15.

Finally, Kelly hopes to address the issue of how the mentally ill are treated in the United States.  Loughner, who was deemed incompetent to stand trial, pleaded guilty to 19 counts in August.

"Jared Loughner was clearly mentally ill," Kelly said.

"Sad," Giffords added.

Kelly said, "We have to learn how to identify these people and get them treatment.  And we don't do a very good job at that."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Jared Lee Loughner Expected to Change Plea to Guilty

Pima County Sheriff's Department(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- The man accused of going on a shooting spree in Tucson, Ariz., last year is expected to change his plea to guilty in federal court Tuesday.

Jared Lee Loughner is charged with killing six people on Jan. 8, 2011, and wounding 13 others, including former Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.  In March 2011, he pleaded not guilty to 49 counts, including six first-degree murder charges, which carry a possible death sentence upon conviction.

A source familiar with the case told the Wall Street Journal earlier this week that Loughner, who has been treated for a mental disorder while under arrest, will receive a term of life in prison in exchange for his new plea.

Despite his illness, mental health officials believe Loughner is competent enough to comprehend the charges against him.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Jared Lee Loughner Reportedly Set to Plead Guilty

Pima County Sheriff's Department(NEW YORK) -- The man accused in the January 2011 shooting rampage in Tucson, Ariz., that left six people dead and 13 wounded, including former Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, is set to plead guilty in court Tuesday, reports the Wall Street Journal.

A source familiar with the case told the newspaper that Jared Lee Loughner, who has been treated for a mental disorder while under arrest, will receive a term of life in prison for his plea.

Despite his illness, mental health officials believe Loughner is competent enough to comprehend the charges against him.

In March 2011, Loughner, 24, pleaded not guilty to 49 counts, including six first-degree murder charges, which carry a possible death sentence upon conviction.

Giffords was meeting with constituents as she regularly did on Jan. 8, 2011 when, police said, Loughner began opening fire with a handgun, striking Giffords at point-blank range.

Among the six people Loughner allegedly murdered were U.S. District Court Judge John Roll, Gabriel Zimmerman, an aide to Giffords, and 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green.

Giffords is still recovering from a bullet wound to the brain and decided last year not to run for re-election.  One of her closest aides, Ron Barber, who was also wounded in the Tucson shooting, was chosen by voters last June to serve out the remainder of Giffords' terms that ends in December.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


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.

video platform video management video solutions video player

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 Given Details of Tucson Shooting Rampage

P.K. Weis/Giffords Campaign/Getty Images(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- The horrible details of the Jan. 8 shooting spree near Tucson, Ariz., have now been revealed to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, according to her spokesman, C.J. Karamargin.

Giffords knew that six people had died in the rampage, but her family, staff and friends wanted to wait until she had recovered enough from her own gunshot wound to the head before telling her that among the dead are her close friend U.S. District Judge John Roll, 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, and her loyal aide Gabe Zimmerman.

While Giffords apparently did not remember the shooting, which occurred while Giffords was meeting with constituents outside of a Safeway grocery store, Kelly said that she is now beginning to cope with the tragedy.

Giffords received the news in late July, a few days before her surprise visit to Capitol Hill on Aug. 1 to vote on the federal debt ceiling.

Since finding out, Giffords called Zimmerman's father, Ross Zimmerman, to express her condolences.

"She still has some trouble with language, but there is no question that she can get her point across and her comprehension is 100 percent," Zimmerman told The Arizona Republic. "It was Gabrielle -- it was nice to talk to her."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Tucson Welcomes Home Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

Bill Clark/Roll Call via Getty Images(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was back in Tucson, Arizona over the weekend for the first time since the shooting incident in early January that nearly claimed her life.

Giffords met with family members and friends in her home city but made no public appearances.  Still, it was an emotional homecoming for the Arizona Democrat following months of intensive rehabilitation in Houston.

Giffords was holding a meet-and-greet event with constituents in front of a Tucson supermarket on Jan. 8 when police say that 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner shot her in the head and then opened fire on others, killing six people and wounding 12 more.

Despite initial reports that Giffords didn't survive the shooting, doctors were able to save her life, although the bullet that passed through the left side of Giffords' brain has resulted in an arduous recovery that will continue at the Houston home Giffords shares with her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly.

During her return to Tucson, a Giffords aide said, "Tucson has come to feel the same way about Gabrielle Giffords, if they haven’t already, as she feels about them.  From what I can understand, from what I’ve heard, folks down here are really glad to have her back, if only for a short visit."

Loughner, meanwhile, was ruled unfit to stand trial, although he is receiving treatment at a mental facility in order to enable him to face the 49 federal charges against him.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rep. Giffords' Rosy Recovery Needs Reality Check, Experts Say

Bill Clark/Roll Call via Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, bright eyes peering out from behind blue wire-framed glasses, looks radiant in a recently released Facebook photo.  But experts say her half-tilt smile suggests her recovery from a gunshot wound to the head will be complex.

The Arizona congresswoman has astounded all her doctors, climbing stairs recently to board a plane for Florida to watch her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, at the launch of the shuttle Endeavour and responding to her family and caregivers.  Now, as Giffords prepares to leave TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas, to begin her long-term rehabilitation, brain injury experts say public hopes for a return to the House may be unrealistic.

"If I had to guess, I would expect her to have some deficiencies for the rest of her life," said Dr. Anand Germanwala, chief of cerebral vascular and skull-based neurosurgery at the University of North Carolina Medical School.  "The brain is a very unforgiving organ."

"I certainly wish her all the best and hope she has complete recovery -- it is possible," he said.  "But realistically thinking, this is a young lady in a high profile job, well-educated and eloquent.  That requires a lot of brain tasks to successfully execute the job.  To expect that now, it's not fair."

Her husband, who has been the most consistent optimist, admits the road back is "months, not weeks away."

Rosy rhetoric and hope are critical for healing, say doctors, but brain injuries like the one Giffords sustained five months ago can change a person's abilities and behavior unalterably.

Giffords was shot at point-blank range at a community event outside a Tucson grocery store on Jan. 8.  The bullet tore through the left side of her brain, the heart of cognition, speech and movement.

The photos, taken in May by P.K. Weiss, a professional photographer and longtime friend of Giffords, show an upbeat woman, but even her chief of staff Pia Carusone warns about being overly optimistic, saying Giffords speaks in only one- or two-word sentences and uses her hands and facial expression to be understood.

Giffords is experiencing aphasia, a disorder associated with brain injury that impairs her ability to process language, although those close to her say she does understand her surroundings.

Centers of speech and movement are only "a few centimeters apart," and so Giffords could have just an isolated speech injury and be spared disabilities in movement, said Germanwala.  But looking at the photos, he said he "suspects" some weakness in the right arm and leg.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio