Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was shot in the head at point blank range and remains in critical condition after a man opened fire indiscriminately at a rally being held at a Safeway supermarket in Tucson earlier this morning. Nine other people — including one child — are also being treated at a hospital, and all are listed in critical or serious conditions. One of the congresswoman’s aides has been confirmed dead. Reports of the identity and the condition of the child are conflicting at this time.
Giffords is a 40-year-old Democrat serving her third term in office and is said to be undergoing surgery at this hour, according to a spokesperson from University Medical Center in Tucson.
According to news reports, the alleged gunman is in police custody, although it’s not known at this time who he is or what his motives might have been. He’s being described as in his late teens or early 20s. Initially NPR reported that Gifford and six others had died, but later said they had received conflicting reports.
Giffords had been leading one of her regularly scheduled “Congress on Your Corner” event, in which her constituents were given a chance to speak to her directly when the attack happened four feet away, according to NPR. A bystander stopped the fleeing suspect. One witness reported hearing about 15 consecutive gunshots.
In her time in office, Giffords has taken up the causes of immigration reform, military issues, stem cell research and alternative energy. She is married to astronaut Mark Kelly.
“An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement to NPR. “Acts and threats of violence against public officials have no place in our society.”