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Nation Remembers Victims of Tucson Shootings

January 12, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT
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At a memorial service on the University of Arizona campus, President Obama will remember the victims of Saturday's shooting and honor those still recovering from their injuries.

TRANSCRIPT

JIM LEHRER: This was a day of remembrance for the victims of the Tucson shootings. They were honored in the U.S. House. And President Obama flew to Arizona to address a memorial service and the nation.

Ray Suarez begins our coverage.

WOMAN: Now, therefore be it resolved…

RAY SUAREZ: That resolution, introduced by House Speaker John Boehner, paid tribute to the six people killed and the 13 wounded, including Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-Ohio), speaker of the House: Our hearts are broken, but our spirit is not. And this is a time for the House to lock arms in prayer for the fallen and the wounded and a resolve to carry on a dialogue of democracy.

We may not yet have all the final answers, but we already have the answer that matters most: that we’re Americans, and we will make it through this difficult period. We will have the last word.

RAY SUAREZ: The outpouring of support for Giffords was especially strong among colleagues in the Arizona delegation, like Republican Trent Franks.

REP. TRENT FRANKS (R-Ariz.): So, Madam Speaker, it is my prayer that God would comfort the Giffords family and all of the victims of this horrible tragedy, and hold them closely in his arms, as only he can, and that he would someday very soon return a smiling Gabby Giffords to this chamber and to all of us, as clear-eyed and as whole as when she left us.

RAY SUAREZ: Democratic Minority Whip Steny Hoyer echoed that sentiment for all in the House.

REP. STENY HOYER (D-Md.), House minority whip: To our beloved colleague, Gabby, we extend our love, our hopes for her early return to the chamber and our ranks.

All of us, in this time, have come together, reached out to one another, comforted one another, and lifted one another up. May that sentiment not pass quickly from this body or from this country.

RAY SUAREZ: For her part, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi alluded to the renewed national debate over political rhetoric since the shooting.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-Calif.), House minority leader: May this resolution remind us of the urgent need to uphold our democratic values, to treat one another with courtesy and with respect, and to act as Congresswoman Giffords has always done and always do, in a manner that reflects the best of American leadership.

RAY SUAREZ: Republican Sarah Palin has come in for criticism on that point. Her political action committee placed crosshairs over Giffords’ district in an online graphic during the midterm election campaign.

Today, in a video posting on her Facebook page, Palin rejected any attempt to link her to what happened in Tucson.

SARAH PALIN (R), former Alaska governor: Within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence that they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.

RAY SUAREZ: There’s been no demonstrated connection between Palin’s post and Saturday’s shooting.

In Tucson, meanwhile, the trauma chief at the University of Arizona Medical Center, Peter Rhee, updated reporters on the condition of the six victims still hospitalized.

DR. PETER RHEE, medical director, University Medical Center Trauma Center: One patient stays — remains in a critical fashion. Two are serious. And three are in fair condition.

RAY SUAREZ: He said Congresswoman Giffords’ progress was going as anticipated.

DR. PETER RHEE: None of the downward events have occurred at this time, which is exactly what we kind of want to happen at this point, and that we have really decreased the amount of sedation that we’re giving him — giving her. And, as a result of that, she’s becoming more and more spontaneous all the time.

RAY SUAREZ: Giffords’ office released this image of her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, sitting at her bedside.

And the family of Ron Barber, a Giffords staffer wounded in the rampage, said his recovery was slow, but steady.

NANCY BARBER, wife of shooting victim: He’s doing as well as can be expected. And, day by day, he has to heal, and it’s going to take a long time to heal. But he really wants to express to the community, this wonderful community of Tucson, his love and his gratitude, because we are a wonderful community, and we are a family. And we all join together. And he is very grateful for that.

RAY SUAREZ: The city has planned an evening service remembering the shooting victims, with President and Mrs. Obama attending at the University of Arizona campus. The president is scheduled to speak at the event.

There was also more from investigators looking into 22-year-old suspect Jared Loughner and his behavior leading up to the shooting. Officials said he was pulled over for running a red light Saturday morning. A short time later, he ran off.

His father confronted him about a black bag Loughner removed from the trunk of the family car. The Pima County Sheriff’s Department also confirmed deputies had been sent to the Loughner home at least once before.

Back in Washington, House members and congressional staffers lined up for a third day in the Cannon Office Building to sign a book of well-wishes and condolences. Lawmakers also took part in a bipartisan prayer service. And U.S. Capitol Police held separate security briefings for Republicans and Democrats.

REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D-Ill.): I think this really did touch my staff in a very personal way, because they can envision that event, that exact event, and what happened. And, so, I think we have an obligation to our staff to think if there are ways that we can to make sure that they are safer.

RAY SUAREZ: Already, there’s been at least one proposal to ban weapons within 1,000 feet of members of Congress and other top federal officials.