Skip to content
Nation & World
Link copied to clipboard

Giffords to join in Tucson events

She, fellow survivors of the shootings will commemorate the one-year mark Jan. 8.

TUCSON, Ariz. - Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, fellow survivors of the Tucson shooting rampage, and others will come together in this southern Arizona city Jan. 8 to commemorate its one-year mark and remember those who died.

A number of events are planned that Sunday, though it remained unclear Thursday which Giffords (D., Ariz.) will attend or whether she will make any public statements.

Some survivors, including Giffords staffers Ron Barber and Pam Simon, plan to go to every event they can. Others, such as Mavy Stoddard, 76 - whose husband, Dorwan, died shielding her from bullets - plan to stay home with loved ones who will help them get through the day.

"The whole weekend of the anniversary I think is going to be tough," Barber said recently during an interview in Giffords' Tucson office.

Barber was shot in the cheek and thigh as Giffords met with constituents outside a supermaket. Six people died, and 13 were injured. Giffords survived a gunshot wound to the head and has been undergoing extensive physical and speech therapy.

Barber still walks with a cane, meets with a therapist, and is working only part time because of fatigue. He has been reliving the terrible moments of the shooting in nightmares and flashbacks as he helps plan events marking the day, which he envisions as a time of togetherness and healing for Tucson.

"We're bringing the community together in a way that they came together" after the tragedy, he said.

In the weeks following it, Tucson residents turned out in droves to contribute to memorials at Giffords' office, at the hospital where survivors were treated, and in front of the supermarket where the shootings happened.

"This community really rallied around itself and us," Barber said. "And I know the congresswoman wants to be here to be a part of that."

Simon said she felt a responsibility to go to all the Jan. 8 events in part because her colleague and friend Gabe Zimmerman and others who were there for Giffords that day were killed.

"As one of her staff, it's very, very important for me to be there for the community," she said.

Planned events include a community-wide bell-ringing at churches and by people throughout the city at 10:11 a.m., the exact time the shooting broke out; an interfaith service at St. Augustine Cathedral; and a series of talks, on the University of Arizona campus, reflecting on the lives of Giffords and the six people killed.

Among them, Serenity Hammerich will talk about her best friend, Christina-Taylor Green, 9, the youngest victim. A candlelight vigil will cap off the events.