TOPICS > Politics

Youngest Victim of Tucson Shooting Laid to Rest

January 13, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT
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Mourners remembered 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green Thursday in Tucson, the first of the funerals for the six victims killed on Saturday. Doctors treating Rep. Gabrielle Giffords said there were signs of progress in her recovery.

RAY SUAREZ: The first of the victims of the Tucson shootings was laid to rest today. At the same time, doctors reported new progress in the recovery of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

Hundreds of mourners gathered at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church this afternoon, where the service for 9-year-old Christina Green was held. The third-grader had been inspired by an early interest in politics to visit Saturday’s congressional event, where she and five others were killed.

And President Obama invoked her memory at last night’s memorial service in Tucson.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted.

I want to live up to her expectations.


BARACK OBAMA: I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it. 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.


RAY SUAREZ: The tributes continued at today’s funeral, with a display of the largest flag recovered from Ground Zero in New York after the 9/11 attacks.

The somber scene at the church today contrasted with growing hope at the hospital, where Rep. Giffords opened her eyes for the first time yesterday.

Today, her neurosurgeon, Dr. Michael Lemole, called it a major milestone.

DR. G. MICHAEL LEMOLE JR., chief of neurosurgery, University Medical Center: She’s still holding her own. She’s still following those simple commands.

And, for me, that tells me that that higher brain center is working. But, as you heard from the president, she now is starting to open her eyes spontaneously. And I’m glad you heard that from him, because it really puts a human side to this progress.

RAY SUAREZ: The doctor went on to say, “We’re wise to acknowledge miracles.”

The outpouring of support outside the hospital continued to grow today. What started with just a few flowers, cards and candles the day of the shooting has turned into an ever-expanding tableau. And visitors keep coming night and day to take part in the vigil.

Meanwhile, new details emerged about Jared Lee Loughner, the alleged gunman. An ex-girlfriend from high school days said today Loughner seemed stable when they dated, but she also pointed to potential warning signs.

ASHLEY FIGUEROA, ex-girlfriend of Jared Lee Loughner: He had a temper problem. He — he used to scare me sometimes. And that’s kind of why — the reason I left him, because he kind of made me feel uncomfortable at times.

RAY SUAREZ: And Pima Community College, where Loughner attended classes starting in 2005, released 51 pages of campus police reports. They showed officers were called on five separate occasions to investigate outbursts in class and other incidents.

In the first report, from February of last year, after hearing a poem about abortion, Loughner asked, “Why don’t we just strap bombs to babies?”

The incidents accelerated last fall. A September report described Loughner as “incomprehensible, his eyes jittery, his head awkwardly tilted and unable to fully understand his actions.” The next week, officers went to tell Loughner he had been suspended. He stared in silence for an hour before finally saying, “I realize now that this is all a scam.”

School officials told Loughner and his parents he would not be readmitted until he had a mental-health exam to show he was not a danger. He never returned, and the college never referred the matter to the sheriff’s department.

R.J. KASTIGAR, bureau chief, Pima County Sheriff’s Office: No, that came to light as this investigation occurred.

RAY SUAREZ: Today, investigators reported a new development. A man walking his dog near the Loughner family home found a black bag containing ammunition. Investigators said they think it’s the bag Loughner was seen with on the morning of the attacks. The accused gunman is currently being held in a federal prison in Phoenix.