Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was among several people who were shot at close range at a public event at a Safeway grocery store in Tucson Saturday. At last report the 40-year-old Giffords was in critical condition and recovering from surgery.
The suspect, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner, is believed to have shot at least 12, killing at least six, according to NPR. Among the dead is U.S. district court chief justice John Roll, who was first appointed to the federal bench by President George H.W. Bush in 1991.
The suspect is currently in custody. The event was the first leg of Giffords's "Congress on Your Corner" series of events. She was talking to a couple when the gunman approached and then shot her. The suspect ran off but was tackled by a bystander.
Giffords, a Democrat, was first elected to the House in 2006. She scored a 92% on the Human Rights Campaign's Congressional Scorecard during the 111th session of Congress. She voted to repeal "don't ask, don't tell" and was a cosponsor of several gay rights bills, including the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the Tax Equity for Health Plan Beneficiaries Act, and the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which passed in 2009.
According to The New York Times, Giffords's office was vandalized in March hours after the House approved major the health care reform bill. After the vote, she was one of the 20 Democrats targeted for defeat by Sarah Palin's "takebackthe20" campaign. According to The Washington Post, the campaign's website included a map showing cross hairs like those on a gun sight over each targeted congress member's district. Takebackthe20.com has been taken down as of Saturday afternoon.
Giffords has two children with her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly.