Crowds Gather as Motorcade Transfers Giffords From Hospital to Airport

BY News Desk  January 21, 2011 at 12:20 PM EDT

An ambulance with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., drives down a street during her transfer from the University Medical Center on Friday in Tucson. Giffords is being moved to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas; John Moore/Getty Images

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is being transported from Tucson to Houston for further rehabilitation, another step in a long journey to recovery after being shot in the head at a constituent meet-and-greet event earlier this month at a grocery story. Well-wishers gathered along her ambulance’s route to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, where she was catching a flight to Houston.

The police-escorted motorcade included military veterans from a local VFW on motorcycle, as hundreds gathered along the route waved flags and clapped.

In a briefing with reporters on Thursday, Giffords’ husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, called her progress “remarkable,” and said he holds hope for a full recovery, calling his wife a “fighter.”

Giffords has shown what doctors have classified as encouraging signs of progress, but faces a long road to recovery from her wounds. She has not yet been able to speak or walk on her own, but was able to stand with assistance. On Thursday, she was taken outside the hospital for a view of the Catalina Mountains.

View a gallery of mementos and remembrances left at one of Giffords’ offices.

The alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, is due back in court next week. He faces charges of murder, attempted murder and attempted assassination.