Friday December 3rd, 2021 7:40AM

Capitol mob recalls attack on U.S. Rep. Giffords decade ago

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

PHOENIX (AP) — As a pro-Trump mob laid siege to the U.S. Capitol this week, former Rep. Gabby Giffords could only wait nervously for news about her husband, Mark Kelly, who was barely a month into his job as a senator from Arizona.

A decade earlier it was Kelly enduring the excruciating wait for news about Giffords, who was shot in the head in an attempted assassination that, like Wednesday’s siege, shocked the nation and prompted a reckoning about the state of politics and discourse in the United States.

For some who survived the attack 10 years ago Friday, the violence inside the U.S. Capitol this week was a painful reminder of that day, when a gunman with paranoid schizophrenia killed six and injured 12, in addition to Giffords, who was meeting with constituents in a grocery store parking lot in Tucson.

“It oftentimes gets forgotten because we are in a heightened and really vitriolic place in politics — every single one of those people, whether they were a staffer, security guard, member, is a human being," said Daniel Hernandez, the Giffords intern who was credited with saving her life when he put pressure on her bleeding head wound while waiting for paramedics.

The storming of the Capitol “was a stark reminder that at any moment we could go from having a congressional event that we all think is held to a different standard, and yet in five minutes we had people on the (Senate) floor, people in Nancy Pelosi's office," said Hernandez, who is now a Democratic state lawmaker representing part of Tucson in the Arizona Legislature.

The county is set to commemorate the 10-year anniversary Friday and dedicate a memorial to those slain and injured.

The shooting of Giffords, her staff and the constituents who arrived to speak to their congresswoman rattled the nation in the aftermath of the bitter and contentious 2010 election, which saw the tea party movement sweep Democrats from office around the country. Giffords had barely retained her seat.

It prompted an extraordinary show of unity. At President Barack Obama’s state of the union address a little more than two weeks later, Republicans and Democrats sat side by side instead of clustering on opposite sides of the chamber.

It was short-lived. The country is more polarized than ever. Congress was threatened.

Kelly was in the Senate chamber on Wednesday when the mob breached the Capitol, and he was escorted to a safe location, his spokesman, Jacob Peters, said.

“As I sat waiting for information about @SenMarkKelly’s safety today, I couldn’t stop thinking about what you must have gone through 10 years ago this week,” Giffords wrote on Twitter Wednesday after it was clear lawmakers were unharmed. “I’m so glad you and your staff are safe. I love you, sweetie.”

The shooting a decade ago left Giffords with limited motion on one side and aphasia, a verbal disability. She can think clearly but struggles to form the words and sentences to express her thoughts. Still, with significant help from her speech therapist, she’s advanced considerably since the early days of her recovery, when she could say just one word: chicken.

The nation glimpsed her progress at the Democratic National Convention in August, when she delivered a poignant 90-second speech in support of President-elect Joe Biden, her longest public speech since the shooting. She regularly gave brief remarks to introduce her husband at key moments in his 2020 campaign.

Giffords left Congress after the shooting to focus on her recovery, cutting short a political career that many in Arizona believe would have included a run for governor or U.S. Senate.

She went on to create, along with Kelly, a political group that lobbies for tougher gun laws and works to elect state and federal lawmakers who will support them.

“She has probably touched many more lives in a positive sense than if she had been able to, say, become senator or governor,” said Pam Simon, a Giffords friend and former staffer who was shot in the chest. “She has touched lives worldwide. She’s inspired survivors all across the country. She’s inspired people with disabilities.”

The new memorial in front of a restored downtown courthouse features gardens named for each of the six people killed and tells the stories of the victims and survivors. There are also tributes to first responders and Tucson's history.

The dead included John Roll, Arizona's chief federal judge, who'd stopped to thank Giffords for her help to address a crush of border-enforcement cases. A new courthouse has since been built in Yuma and named for Roll. Gabe Zimmerman, Giffords' community outreach director, was the first congressional staffer killed on the job in the United States.

“Gabe was actually my closest friend and he was my person that I bounced my ideas off of,” said his father, Ross Zimmerman. “So losing him is a problem on multiple levels for me.”

Dorothy Morris, Dorwin Stoddard and Phyllis Schneck also were killed.

The gunman, Jared Loughner, is serving a life sentence at a federal medical center in Rochester, Minnesota, according to federal prison records.

Days after the shooting, President Barack Obama flew to Tucson to console a grieving city and nation. In his plea for civility, he homed in on Christina Taylor Green, a 9-year-old victim who’d recently been elected to the Student Council and was just beginning to understand the meaning of democracy. She went to see her congresswoman with a child’s optimism and a belief that public service is exciting and hopeful.

A decade later, in the aftermath of an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, his words carry new meaning.

“I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it,” Obama said. “I want America to be as good as she imagined it. All of us – we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.”

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News
© Copyright 2021
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
President Trump won't attend Joe Biden's inauguration
President Donald Trump says he won’t attend President-elect Joe Biden’s Inauguration on Jan. 20
12:52PM ( 4 minutes ago )
Pro-democracy activists heartened by US system's resilience
Although pro-democracy and human rights activists around the globe were stunned to see a raging mob storm the U.S. Capitol, they say they were heartened and inspired because the system ultimately prevailed
12:50PM ( 5 minutes ago )
Capitol mob recalls attack on U.S. Rep. Giffords decade ago
A decade ago, a gunman with paranoid schizophrenia killed six and injured 13 including Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords
12:49PM ( 6 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
LA, Congress take divergent paths after COVID test warning
The nation’s second-largest city said it will keep using a coronavirus test that federal regulators warned may produce false results while Congress, which has used the same test, is seeking an alternative
12:04PM ( 51 minutes ago )
The Latest: Pelosi asks about preventing Trump military acts
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has spoken to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff about preventing President Donald Trump from initiating military actions or a nuclear strike
12:02PM ( 54 minutes ago )
Biden to speed release of coronavirus vaccines
President-elect Joe Biden will be taking a new direction to speed release of coronavirus vaccines when he assumes office Jan. 20
11:49AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
The Latest: Adam Schiff says Trump 'danger to the Republic'
Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff says President Donald Trump is a “danger to the Republic” and should be removed from office immediately by impeachment, resignation or invoking the 25th Amendment
10:26AM ( 2 hours ago )
Mayor warns London situation critical as virus spreads fast
London’s mayor has declared the capital’s COVID-19 situation to be critical, reflecting deteriorating conditions for beleaguered hospitals, as the country authorized a third vaccine for emergency use
10:20AM ( 2 hours ago )
Dominion sues Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation
Dominion Voting Systems has filed a defamation lawsuit against lawyer Sidney Powell, seeking at least $1.3 billion for Powell’s “wild accusations” that the company rigged the presidential election for Joe Biden
10:09AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Wall Street drifts near records following weak jobs report
U.S. stocks are drifting near their record highs on Friday, following a sober reminder of how many jobs the pandemic is destroying, as Wall Street balances expectations for the economy’s potentially brighter future against its current pain
11:33AM ( 1 hour ago )
Republicans recoil from Missouri Sen. Hawley after siege
Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley is being scolded and blamed for Wednesday’s riots at the U.S. Capitol
11:21AM ( 1 hour ago )
Boston mayor, RI governor among Biden adds to economic team
President-elect Joe Biden is set to introduce the governor of Rhode Island, the mayor of Boston and a small-business advocate from California as the newest members of his economic team
11:19AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Hurt feelings, anger linger after Pence, Trump clash
The straight-laced evangelical and the brash reality TV star were never a natural fit
2:01AM ( 10 hours ago )
Capitol siege by pro-Trump mob forces questions, ousters
The siege of the U.S. Capitol by President Donald Trump’s supporters has raised painful new questions across government
12:57AM ( 11 hours ago )
The Latest: Capitol Police says officer dies after riots
The U.S. Capitol Police are reporting that Capitol Police Officer Brian D
12:51AM ( 12 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
President Trump won't attend Joe Biden's inauguration
President Donald Trump says he won’t attend President-elect Joe Biden’s Inauguration on Jan. 20
12:52PM ( 4 minutes ago )
Pfizer study suggests vaccine works against virus variant
New research suggests the COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech can still work against a mutated coronavirus
12:46PM ( 10 minutes ago )
Aaron Donald, Travis Kelce unanimous AP All-Pro Team choices
Dynamic defensive star Aaron Donald and unstoppable tight end Travis Kelce are unanimous choices for The Associated Press NFL All-Pro Team
12:28PM ( 28 minutes ago )
London mayor seeks help as UK sees record new virus deaths
London’s mayor has declared the capital’s COVID-19 situation to be critical, reflecting deteriorating conditions for beleaguered hospitals, as the country recorded its highest daily death toll in the pandemic
12:27PM ( 29 minutes ago )
Police officer's death intensifies Capitol siege questions
A police officer has died from injuries sustained as President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol, intensifying questions about the defeated president’s remaining days in office and the ability of the Capitol police to secure the area
12:24PM ( 32 minutes ago )