LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Friends and colleagues of U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords are concerned about the state of our country after she was shot in the head during a public event.
Giffords is in critical condition. She was shot during a scheduled 'Congress on Your Corner' event at a Safeway grocery store in Tucson, AZ. The suspected shooter is 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner. He is in custody. Investigators are looking for a second person who they believe may have been involved. At least 5 people were killed, including U.S. District Judge John Roll and a 9-year-old girl.
Meanwhile, Giffords' friends are reacting to the shooting. Former Congressman Baron Hill and Congressman John Yarmuth call 'Gabby' a friend. Yarmuth described her as a bright, fun person who has never been afraid to speak her mind. Yarmuth and Giffords were elected in 2006.
"Those of us who came in 2006 share a very close bond. Now that there are only 20 of 40 left, it's even tighter," Yarmuth said.
Yarmuth said he spoke with Giffords two days ago about getting back into the swing of things in Congress. He called today's shooting an attack on every member of Congress and our democracy.
"When a public official is doing exactly what virtually every American would want her to do and her life is threatened, then we all ought to be concerned about the state of our nation," Yarmuth said.
Former Congressman Baron Hill, who served with Giffords on the Science Committee, said he was stunned, but not surprised by Saturday's shooting.
"I always thought maybe something like this would happen one day because people were saying things and doing things that are not very civil. We can agree to disagree, but we can do it in a civil way. The rhetoric that was out there was pretty strong," Congressman Hill said.
When Hill heard Giffords had been shot in the head, during her scheduled event, he described it as having been hit by a brick in the belly. "She certainly isn't out of the woods yet. We've all got our fingers crossed and are praying for her and her family to pull through this," Hill said.
Whether or not changes may come to public events or the way they are advertised, is too early to tell. Yarmuth believes many -at least in the beginning -may be a little nervous. "A friend of mine who was defeated last fall, Steve Kagen from Wisconsin just said -basically to all of us 'you all be careful'," Yarmuth cried.
Congressman Yarmuth said Giffords has had threats made to her in the past that were constantly being reviewed by federal authorities. In wake of the shooting, the House of Representatives has postponed their scheduled vote, Wednesday, on repealing the health care law.