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Arizona Shooting News: Giffords Reaches 'Major Milestone' (LIVE UPDATES)

The Huffington Post/AP   First Posted: 01/13/11 01:20 PM ET Updated: 05/25/11 07:25 PM ET

Doctors at University Medical Center in Tucson, Ariz. said Thursday that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has reached a "major milestone" in her recovery following an assassination attempt on Saturday.

Giffords is now able to open both eyes and appears to be becoming aware of her surroundings, the doctors explained at a news conference.

The news comes one day after President Obama addressed a memorial in Tucson, where he revealed that Giffords opened an eye for the first time since the shooting shortly after he left the hospital earlier that day. Several of Giffords' friends and congressional colleagues, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, were on hand when the milestone occurred.

Meanwhile, previously unseen documents shed new light on alleged shooter Jared Loughner.

For four years, Loughner was an unremarkable college student, commuting to classes near his home where he studied yoga and algebra, business management and poetry.

But last year, his classroom conduct began to change. In February, Loughner stunned a teacher by talking about blowing up babies, a bizarre outburst that marked the start of a rapid unraveling for the 22-year old, who is accused of slaying six people and wounding 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

After his first flare-up, campus police decided not to intervene.

"I suggested they keep an eye on him," an officer wrote.

Loughner's on-campus behavior grew increasingly erratic, menacing, even delusional. Fifty-one pages of police reports released Wednesday provided a chilling portrait of Loughner's last school year, which ended in September when he was judged mentally unhinged and suspended by Pima Community College.

Click here for more information on Loughner, or scroll down for the latest updates about the Arizona shooting and its aftermath.

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Giffords' flight has arrived in Houston, KOLD reports.

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Rep. Giffords is heading towards Houston. The Arizona congresswoman's trip includes portions via ambulance, helicopter and jet. The AP reports that she will "undergo weeks of rigorous therapy."

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Photos of Rep. Giffords' motorcade earlier on Friday as she began the trip to Houston.

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AP reports on one victim's memories of Judge John Roll's heroic actions the day the tragic shootings rocked Tucson:

Ron Barber can remember the small details of the Tucson rampage: The gunman, the crackle of gunfire, lying on the ground, wounded, and the weight of a body on him.

A week and a half later, Barber found out that it was his good friend John Roll.

Then he learned the federal judge may have helped save his life.

Full story here.

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Judge John Roll's wife, Maureen, has issued a statement in response to her husband's tragic death and the events that unfolded in Tucson, AZ Central reports:

There are no words to describe how my world was shattered on Saturday morning, Jan. 8, 2011. Not only did I lose John Roll, my husband and best friend of more than 40 years, but our three sons lost a wonderful father and our grandchildren their beloved papa.

But something else happened that day and in the days that have followed.

Read the full statement here.

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Giffords' family reported that she felt the sunshine on her face today for the first time since she was shot. Her office released the below photograph of the congresswoman's bed on a hospital deck, with husband Mark Kelly by her side.

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Arizona's KFDA reports that Congresswoman Giffords will be transferred to Houston's TIRR Memorial Hermann hospital at 9am local time tomorrow:

Officials at University Medical Center in Tucson say the congresswoman is expected to leave shortly after 9 a.m. local time and travel by ambulance to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base for a medical flight to Texas.

A group of motorcycle riders from a Veterans of Foreign Wars post will escort the ambulance.

Once in Houston, she will be taken by helicopter to TIRR Memorial Hermann hospital.

Traveling with Giffords will be her husband, Mark Kelly; her mother, Gloria Giffords; trauma surgeon Dr. Peter Rhee and an intensive care unit nurse.

Full article here.

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AZ Central reports on the terms of Loughner's indictments, and what would constitute the death penalty:

Superseding indictments could come as early as 60 days in the murders of U.S. District Judge John Roll and Giffords' aide Gabe Zimmerman. Sources indicated that the indictments would be done piecemeal in order to meet constitutional requirements.

The federal criminal code allows penalties of up to life in prison for an attempted assassination of a member of Congress. When federal murder charges follow, prosecutors could seek the death penalty.

Full story here.

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The AP reports on a video that has surfaced of the shooting rampage:

John Roll was called a fair federal judge and a loving family man at his funeral. Now, some are also calling him a hero.

Surveillance footage of the Jan. 8 shooting rampage in Tucson showed that he used his body as a shield to cover an injured man. Roll then took a bullet to the back, and lost his life in the process.

Full story here.

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The AP reports:

Giffords' family hopes to move the Arizona congresswoman on Friday to TIRR Memorial Hermann hospital in Houston, where her husband lives and works as an astronaut. The exact day of the move will depend on her health.

"I am extremely hopeful at the signs of recovery that my wife has made since the shooting," Mark Kelly said in a statement released by Giffords' congressional office. The staff at University Medical Center in Tucson "has stabilized her to the point of being ready to move to the rehabilitation phase."

Full story here.

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The AP reports that shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner has been indicted on three counts, attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and trying to kill two of her aids.

Full story here.

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Tucson's KVOA just reported that Congresswoman Giffords successfully stood on her own two feet today and sat in her hospital chair looking out the window. She will be relocated to Houston later this week for further rehabilitation treatment.

KVOA reports:

Dr. Rhee would not confirm that Giffords will leave for TIRR Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Hospital in Houston on Friday, but he says the transition from UMC to the next hospital will be seamless.

TIRR is one of the top-rated rehabilitation hospitals in the country, and has been recognized for this for the past 21 years, according to U.S. News and World Report. The hospital was chosen for its rehabilitation program and its relative proximity to Tucson, Giffords' husband Mark Kelly says.

Full story here.

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From the Associated Press:

Donated corneas from the young girl killed in the Arizona mass shooting have saved the eyesight of two children, the girl's father told The Associated Press on Monday.

John Green said the Donor Network of Arizona told him and his wife about the successful transplants.

He said he doesn't know whether any of 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green's other organs have gone to any other children, but he's under the impression that her wounds rendered her internal organs unusable.

Click here for more.

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Eric Fuller, the Arizona shooting victim who was arrested on Saturday after saying "you're dead" to a Tea Party leader, "is apologetic and very sad" about his behavior, a friend tells CNN.

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Former President Bill Clinton's statement on Martin Luther King Day includes the following warning, directly after mentioning the shooting in Arizona: "While no one intends their words or actions to incite the violence we saw in Tucson – and it’s wrong for anyone to suggest otherwise – we live in a world where what we say and how we say it can be read, heard, or seen by those who understand exactly what we mean and by those whose inner demons take them to a very different place."

His full statement:

"Dr. Martin Luther King once wrote that nonviolence means 'not only avoiding external physical violence but also internal violence of the spirit.' Today as we honor what would have been Dr. King’s 92nd birthday a little more than a week after a shooter took the lives of six people and wounded 13 others in Arizona, including a member of Congress, we’d all do well to heed this message. While no one intends their words or actions to incite the violence we saw in Tucson – and it’s wrong for anyone to suggest otherwise – we live in a world where what we say and how we say it can be read, heard, or seen by those who understand exactly what we mean and by those whose inner demons take them to a very different place.

"That’s not an argument against free speech, but a reminder that, as with all freedoms, its use carries with it responsibility. Therefore, we should follow the example Dr. King set and exercise our freedom of speech in ways that both clarify our honest differences and nurture the best of us rather than bring out the worst. We must not let our political differences degenerate into demonization. Our opponents are just as convinced they’re right as we are. And we must constantly reaffirm the conviction that our common humanity is more important than our differences.

"That’s why America’s founders established as our permanent mission the formation of a more perfect union. That’s why Dr. King reminded us that we are all caught up in an 'inescapable web of mutuality.' That’s why he taught us to remember that, in the face of evil, only light can push out darkness and only love can push out hate. Living those lessons is something we can all do to honor Rep. Gabby Giffords and the other victims of the tragedy in Tucson."

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NBC News will air an interview with Dick Cheney on Tuesday night, his first since undergoing heart surgery last July. According to advance excerpts from NBC, the former vice president rejects the idea that the shooting in Arizona is connected to the nation's political rhetoric.

Scroll down for Cheney's remarks. The full interview airs on Tuesday on NBC's "Today" show and "NBC Nightly News."

JAMIE GANGEL: "We don't know what motivated this young man, but immediately there was an uproar about contentious political rhetoric being responsible. Whether it's Sarah Palin using words like, "Don't retreat, reload," or President Obama in 2008 said, "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun," are those kinds of metaphors dangerous? Do you think the political rhetoric has gotten out of control?"

DICK CHENEY: "Well, I think we have to be a little bit careful here-- about a rush to judgment. Trying to explain the event when we don't really know everything we need to know in order to be able to make sort of a final judgment. There's a lot more I'd like to know about the man who was the perpetrator of this awful crime.

"And I think we need to be a little careful about assuming that somehow the rest of society or the political class bears the responsibility for what happened here when it was the act of a deranged, crazed individual that committed a crime.

"I think our politics can get pretty rough at times. Having been vice president for eight years, maybe I'm more (CHUCKLES) sensitive to it than others, but the fact of the matter is, a good, tough political fights is one of the great strengths of our democracy. And so I think we have to be cautious I guess about jumping to conclusions here about the extent to which the sort of the political environment contributed to or caused this event. I think the event was caused by a deranged individual. And-- that's where we ought to look in terms of trying to assess guilt.

"In the meantime certainly there's nothing wrong with, and I wouldn't be critical about people who are saying, "Look, we need to be careful about our rhetoric. We need to treat one another with respect during the course of our political debates," and so forth. I think that's always good, sound advice.

"But I don't think we should anticipate that we can somehow take a system that was designed for political combat, if you will, between the parties, between ideas, between principles and set that aside. I wouldn't want to do that. That's the heart and soul of our political system. And that's basically a good thing."

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Suzi Hileman, who was injured at Arizona's shooting, is haunted by the killing of nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green. Hileman took Green to the meet-and-greet where the shooting occurred.

In her dreams, Suzi kept reliving the last moments before she lost consciousness: lying on her side in a parking lot, face-to-face with her 9-year-old neighbor, Christina-Taylor Green, whom she had taken that day to meet their congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords.

They held hands, like grandmother and granddaughter, as they waited to meet Giffords.

"The sadness of it is bottomless," Bill Hileman said as he took a break from his bedside vigil at Tucson's University Medical Center. "She took a friend's kid away and didn't bring her back."

Read the Los Angeles Times for the full story.

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The AP reports that the Arizona shooting is leading to a wave of proposed legislation aiming to enhance, not curtail, gun rights:

The shooting in Tucson brought new attention to the national gun control debate after authorities said the rampage was carried out by a man who couldn't get into the military because of his drug use and had repeated run-ins with police at his community college because of his bizarre mental behavior. Jared Loughner bought the 9 mm handgun legally at a Tucson gun store, and was also carrying extended magazines that hold 30 rounds of ammunition.

Arizona Republicans remain adamant that the shooting will not dissuade them from pushing their pro-gun agenda.

They want new laws allowing college and university faculty members to be able to carry concealed weapons on campus, an issue that gained attention after the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech University. Only Utah has a law allowing concealed weapons on college campuses while 24 states have bans, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

More here.

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The AP reports:

TUCSON, Ariz. — Doctors have successfully performed a surgery on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' eye socket to remove bone fragments as the wounded congresswoman showed more signs of improvement.

There were no complications from the surgery, and Giffords is improving so much that she was able to give her husband a back rub.

Dr. Randall Friese said Mark Kelly also told doctors he saw Giffords smile. He said sometimes people see what they want to see, but that "if he says she's smiling, I buy it."

Giffords still cannot speak because of a tracheotomy done so the breathing tube could be removed from her mouth.

Dr. Michael Lemole says the eye operation entailed making an incision above the eyebrow, removing bone chips to relieve pressure and reconstructing the roof of the socket.

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Mark Kelly, the husband of Rep. Giffords, will give his first interview on Tuesday night. ABC has released excerpts of the interview, and in one portion Kelly says that Giffords is now able to give him a back rub:

"[It is] so typical of her. She's in the ICU. You know, gone through this traumatic injury. And she spent 10 minutes giving me a neck massage. I keep tellin' her. I'm like, 'Gabby, you're in the ICU. You know, you don't need -- you know, you don't need to be doin' this.' But it's so typical of her that no matter how bad the situation might be for her, you know, she's lookin' out for other people."

The astronaut also says he is "probably" willing to meet with the parents of alleged shooter Jared Loughner:

"I'd probably see them. You know, I don't think it's their fault. It's not the parents fault. You know, I'd like to think I'm a person that's, you know, somewhat forgiving. And, I mean, they've got to be hurting in this situation as much as much as anybody."

Below is a promotional clip for the interview.

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CBS's "60 Minutes" spoke with two of Jared Loughner's friends, and the show also obtained a voicemail left by the alleged shooter the night before the fatal rampage.

People are gonna say he doesn't believe in anything but it's not that he doesn't believe in anything he literally believes in nothing, nothingness," one friend tells Scott Pelley.

Scroll down for video.

WATCH:

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Mark Kelly, husband of Gabrielle Giffords, is asking people to volunteer today -- Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

A statement released through Giffords' campaign chair, Michael McNulty, quotes Kelly as saying:

Many of you have asked how you can help and how you can honor the memory of those who were wounded or lost their lives. What united the victims of the tragedy on Saturday was service – they volunteered in church or at soup kitchens, worked in government, and tended to their communities. On behalf of Gabby and our family, I ask that you consider honoring their commitment to service by dedicating a few hours on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, this Monday, January 17th, to volunteer in your community.

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Jared Lee Loughner may be tried in San Diego instead of Tucson on charges related to the fatal shootings from last weekend.

The Washington Post is reporting that federal authorities are making plans for the move to California, which must be approved by new chief judge Roslyn O. Silver. A law enforcement official told the Post, "it's going to happen. It's just a matter of time.'' They add:

Federal officials said San Diego would get the case in part because it's one of the closest judicial districts to Arizona. A San Diego-based federal judge, Larry A. Burns, was appointed last week to hear the case because Arizona judges recused themselves. Judy Clarke, Loughner's attorney, is also based there.

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Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' husband, Mark Kelly, spoke at a memorial on Sunday for Gabriel Zimmerman. He said that his wife was "improving a little bit each day. She’s a fighter."

It was Kelly's first public appearance since his wife was shot in the Arizona attack that killed Zimmerman, an aide for Giffords.

“I know someday she’ll get to tell you how she felt about Gabe herself,” Mr. Kelly said.

His wife loved Mr. Zimmerman “like a younger brother,” he said, and was inspired by “his idealism, his strength and his warmth.”

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The University of Arizona, where Giffords is in the hospital, has announced that her condition has been upgraded:

Three patients from the tragic shooting a week ago remain at UMC. Two are listed in good condition and U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has been upgraded to serious condition from critical because she is no longer on a ventilator.

The Congresswoman continues to do well. She is breathing on her own. Yesterday’s procedures were successful and uneventful.

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On Sunday, Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.) and Rep. Tim Murphy (R-P.A.), co-founders of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus, appeared on CNN's "State of the Union" to discuss the need for improved response to mental illness in the wake of the Arizona shootings.

"I believe that we are not informing and educating the public enough to be able to help them be able to make the decision to help those they love," Napolitano told host Candy Crowley. "Unfortunately it does not hit the radar scope in Washington or almost in any state house … It's always something you don't talk about, you don't discuss because of the stigma, and I think we need to address that heavily."

Murphy said he hopes lawmakers at both the federal and state levels now "look carefully at their mental health systems and their involuntary commitment system laws," to prevent future attacks.

Read more of the interview and watch the video here.

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Mark Kelly, Rep. Giffords' husband, sits down for his first TV interview since the shootings with Diane Sawyer on a special edition of "20/20", ABC News announced today.

The program will air Tuesday night at 10:00 pm EST.

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New details have emerged about Jared Loughner's movements the night before he allegedly killed six people and wounded 13 in a Tucson, the AP reports:

He wandered through the dark streets of his hometown, meandering from one store to another on a furious all-night excursion as he prepared what authorities say were the final steps in taking revenge on a world from which he'd become progressively alienated.

Jared Loughner checked into a down-and-out motel. He picked up photos showing him holding a Glock 19 while wearing only a bright red G-string. He bought ammunition on one of three trips to two different Walmarts.

He called a high-school pot-smoking buddy, ran away from his father into a cactus-dotted desert and updated his MySpace profile to say, "Goodbye friends."

Read the who account here.

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ABC News' Christiane Amanpour visited Tucson to gather witnesses and victims together for the first time since last weekend's tragedy. ABC News reports on the event:

The colonel who wrestled the gunman to ground, the petite woman who knocked away his ammunition, the heroic intern who staunched the Congresswoman's bleeding – all joined Amanpour in Tucson. Other Members of Congress came to the town hall as well: Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., along with former Arizona Rep. Jim Kolbe. All the victims of the tragedy were invited and a thoughtful, forthright and stirring conversation ensued.

Anna Ballis, who was at the Safeway one week ago, talked to Amanpour about the moment of the shooting. She had intended to go the grocery store, but never made it inside. She remembered seeing Christina-Taylor Green, moments before the nine-year-old girl was killed. "I do remember looking over and seeing Christina, and she was quite excited about meeting the congresswoman, jumping up and down. And, unfortunately, she never made it," Ballis said, choking back tears.

Read the whole story and watch video excerpts here.

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Tucson's KGUN published a piece detailing the witnesses and victims who attended Christiane Amanpour's town hall on the Arizona shooting, during which the local Tea Party leader Trent Humphries received threats from shooting victim Eric Fuller.

KGUN reports:

It was the first time most of them had been together since Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a Safeway parking lot, killing 6, and wounding or injuring 14 others -- a rampage that happened one week earlier almost to the hour.

On the platform with Amanpour were Col. Bill Badger, who helped tackle gunman Jared Lee Loughner; Daniel Hernandez, who ran to help wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords while most people were ducking for cover, Patricia Maisch, who grabbed a magazine away from Loughner; Bill Hileman, whose wife, Susan, is still recovering from gunshot wounds.

On the front row was Kenneth Dorushka, who was shot shielding his wife from Loughner's gunfire; and J. Eric Fuller, who was shot in the knee.

Read the whole story here.

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