Latest update on Giffords from Arizona Republicby Mark B. Evans on Jan. 08, 2011, under Politics
From the Arizona Republic:
by Shaun McKinnon – Jan. 9, 2011 09:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
• 10 a.m. Update: Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is the only patient from Saturday’s shooting who remains in critical condition, although she was responsive to commands this morning.
“I am cautiously optimistic,” said Dr. Michael Lemole, chief of neurosurgery at University Medial Center, where Giffords is being treated.
In a detailed press conference, hospital officials said that Giffords is sedated and is being awakened periodically so doctors can see how she is progressing.
Officials said she is fortunate because the single bullet that struck her during the shooting rampage at a supermarket north of Tucson did not pass through both hemispheres. The bullet entered through the back of her skull on her left side and exited through the front.
The gravest danger now is swelling of her brain. Doctors have removed about half of her skull on the left side to alleviate the pressure.
“We’ve been very happy with her hospital course,” said Dr. Peter Rhee, medical director of the University Medical Center trauma unit.
Giffords was in surgery 38 minutes after arriving at UMC just before 11 a.m. Saturday, Rhee said.
Before surgery, Giffords was able to hold up two fingers at the request of doctors. She was able to follow the same command Sunday morning, Rhee said.
Doctors said while Giffords’ progress is promising, they don’t know what future deficits might result from being shot in the head.
Her husband, veteran astronaut Mark Kelly, is at her side. Some family friends have been allowed in to visit.
Hospital officials said all other victims brought to UMC have been upgraded from intensive care. Three remain in serious condition.
• 9 a.m. update: FBI spokeswoman Jenny Shearer said on Sunday that “charges are still being sorted out,” on Jared Loughner. “It will be up to the prosecutors at the state and federal level. The FBI and the US Attorneys Office in Phoenix have no information on the initial court appearance for the gunman,” Shearer said.
U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head and critically wounded Saturday in what authorities say was a targeted attempt on her life by a gunman whose bloody attack sent waves of anger, shock and grief from the Tucson crime scene all the way to Washington.
At 8 a.m. Giffords is still in critical condition. At 6 a.m. University Medical spokesperson Darci Slaten has confirmed that Giffords has had a CAT scan and that nothing has changed with her condition. She is still in critical condition.
According to Slaten, Giffords is not in a medically-induced coma, but she is still under sedation from surgery.
Six people were killed and 13 others were injured in the volley of bullets. The injured included Giffords, the 40-year-old Arizona Democrat who was meeting constituents for the first time since surviving a bruising re-election campaign last fall. It was the first time in more than 30 years that a U.S. lawmaker was the victim of an assassination attempt.
The man believed to be the shooter was tackled at the scene, an upscale shopping center just outside Tucson, and taken into custody. Later that evening he was placed in federal custody. But authorities said they were searching for a second suspect and were examining evidence they said made it clear that Giffords was the intended victim.
Police said the suspect, whom they would not identify, has refused to cooperate with authorities, invoking his right to remain silent. Police believe he came to the constituent meeting with another individual identified only as a White male in his 50s.
Multiple law-enforcement sources say police were questioning Jared Loughner, a 22-year-old Tucson man whose online writings and videos are filled with anti-government messages and rambling rants about mind control and brainwashing.
Authorities also confirmed that a suspicious package was left at Giffords’ Tucson headquarters sometime Saturday and was being investigated.
Among the dead were U.S. District Judge John Roll, who had stopped to greet Giffords after attending morning Mass; Gabe Zimmerman, a 30-year-old aide to the congresswoman who was recently engaged; and Christina Taylor Green, a 9-year-old girl who had just been elected to her school’s student council. Also killed were Dorothy Morris, 76; Dorwin Stoddard, 76; and Phyllis Scheck, 79.
Emotions burst to the surface as news of the shooting spread. President Barack Obama promised the full resources of the federal government for what he called an unspeakable act. The president dispatched FBI Director Robert Mueller to oversee the federal investigation.
“It’s not surprising that today Gabby was doing what she always does – listening to the hopes and concerns of her neighbors,” Obama said. “That is the essence of what our democracy is all about. That is why this is more than a tragedy for those involved.”
Gov. Jan Brewer, fighting tears, said she was heartbroken by the tragic events and called Giffords a friend she had come to love and respect.
Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik was visibly angry as he briefed reporters in Tucson, repeating his belief that the gunman may have been motivated in part by hate-infused talk on radio and television.
“I think it’s time as a country to do a little soul-searching,” Dupnik said. “The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous.”
The shooting is almost certain to ratchet up the political debate on hot-button issues, including immigration and the president’s health-care reform.
Giffords had drawn the ire of critics on both topics: Immigration helped drive an often bitter election campaign against Republican opponent Jesse Kelly, and a vandal shattered a window of her Tucson office in the days after she cast a vote in favor of the health-care bill.
In Washington and Phoenix, elected officials scrambled to respond appropriately to the shooting. Brewer announced that she would deliver her State of the State address as scheduled Monday but would rewrite portions of the speech to reflect the events.
Republican leaders in Congress said they would take no legislative action this week “that does not relate to today’s tragic event in Arizona.” A scheduled vote on repealing the health-care bill was postponed.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Marshal’s Office said all federal judges, including bankruptcy judges, are now under protective order until investigators can determine whether any risks remain.
Giffords underwent brain surgery after the shooting, which occurred shortly after 10 a.m. Saturday in the parking lot outside a Safeway on Oracle Road near Ina Road just outside Tucson. The bullet, from a semiautomatic pistol, entered her head from the front and exited through the rear after passing through her brain in what doctors described as a “through and through” injury.
Neurosurgeons at University Medical Center in Tucson operated on the congresswoman, and doctors were hopeful she would recover, Dr. Peter Rhee said during a news conference.
Giffords was following commands, a good sign, he said.
C.J. Karamargin, Giffords’ communications director said late Saturday that Giffords was in critical condition in intensive care and was not fully conscious. However, he said Gifford’s deputy director Ron Barber, who was wounded in the shooting, was “doing very well” and speaking.
“I’m very optimistic about her recovery,” Rhee said.
Giffords was at the shopping center to meet voters for what she called “Congress on Your Corner.” She did not make speeches at the events but listened to concerns from constituents. Typically 50 to 100 people would attend.
The events lasted about 90 minutes, “but the congresswoman has never left on time,” said Karamargin, who was not at Saturday’s event.
He acknowledged the risks: “Any public official who went through the past year, year and a half, had to be concerned about safety, crowds getting out of hand,” he said.
The first shots were reported at 10:11 a.m., and police responded immediately, shutting down surrounding streets to allow medical helicopters to land.
Amid the chaos, wildly conflicting reports emerged, spreading quickly online with the help of social-media sites such as Twitter. For a short time, some news organizations reported that Giffords had died.
Lachelle Smith, a 48-year-old teacher from Phoenix, and her daughter, Amanda MacQueen, sat drying their fingernails in a salon across the parking lot when gunfire erupted.
“It was many shots, 15, 20. It sounded like pop-pop-pop-pop-pop. It sounded like firecrackers, and at first we thought it was. It was over in seconds,” Smith said.
MacQueen, a 20-year-old Arizona State University student, watched people running in all directions. One man ran right toward her with a look of sheer terror on his face. She knew instantly the noise came from a gun. She pushed her mother to the floor and ran to the back of the salon.
The store owner locked the doors. The customers stayed flat on the floor.
Smith heard screaming as she watched out the window.
“I felt like I was looking through the glass at a movie. I thought I was watching a movie. It didn’t feel real,” Smith said.
On Saturday afternoon, about 60 to 70 people had gathered outside Giffords’ office on Swan Road in Tucson. The mood was somber.
Candlelight vigils were held in Tucson and Phoenix.
Brewer said she has ordered flags in Arizona to be flown at half-staff. She called the shooting “an unbelievable tragedy” for the people of Arizona. She called Giffords a friend.
“I’ve grown to love and respect her. She never really played partisan politics. She was serious about her work,” Brewer said. “She is a very gracious public servant.”
Similar reaction poured in from around Arizona and the country. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., whose district adjoins Giffords’, fought his own tough re-election campaign and was the target of fierce criticism after he called for out-of-state businesses and groups to boycott Arizona in the wake of Senate Bill 1070, the state immigration legislation.
“I am sickened by the horrific attack in Tucson today and saddened by this senseless violence,” he said. “This is a tragedy for Arizona, our nation and our democracy.”
Members of Congress have rarely been targeted by violent attacks. In 1978, U.S. Rep. Leo Ryan, D-Calif., was shot during a bloody assault in Jonestown, Guyana, where he was investigating the People’s Temple, a cult that later committed mass suicide.
There typically is no security for members of Congress. After her office was vandalized in March, Giffords told MSNBC that she was not any more fearful, even though aggressive protests were becoming more frequent at her Tucson office.
“You’ve got to think about it, our democracy is a light, a beacon, really, around the world because we effect change at the ballot box, and not because of these outbursts, of violence in many cases,” she said. “Change is important, it’s a part of our process, but it’s really important that we focus on the fact that we have a democratic process.”