- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The condition of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Arizona Democrat, was described as “holding her own” Tuesday, three days after she was shot in the head at point-blank range during an apparent assassination attempt that left six people dead.

Doctors said Mrs. Giffords is moving both arms, breathing on her own and has shown no increase in brain swelling, though she is still using a breathing tube to prevent infection such as pneumonia, according to Dr. Michael Lemole, chief of the Division of Neurosurgery at the Arizona Health Science Center. He has been treating Mrs. Giffords at the University Medical Center in Tucson.

“I’m happy to say that she’s holding her own,” Dr. Lemole said.

President Obama is scheduled to travel to Arizona Wednesday to attend a memorial service for the victims.

Twenty people were shot during Saturday’s rampage at a meet-and-greet event with Mrs. Giffords at a Tucson supermarket. Authorities say Jared Lee Loughner, a 22-year-old loner who displayed paranoid and frequently anti-government views in numerous Internet postings, targeted the congresswoman before firing indiscriminately into the crowd, stopping only when bystanders subdued him.

Mr. Loughner already faces federal charges that could bring him the death penalty, and authorities have promised to bring further charges. He is being held without bond.

His parents, Amy and Randy Loughner, have remained out of the public view since the shooting, but issued a statement Tuesday to reporters outside their home Tucson home. It said: “There are no words that can possibly express how we feel. We wish that there were, so we could make you feel better. We don’t understand why this happened.

“We care very deeply about the victims and their families. We are so very sorry for their loss.”

A neighbor, Wayne Smith, told KPHO-TV that the couple want to know where they went wrong with their son. He said Mrs. Loughner has been in bed, crying nonstop since the attack.

Those killed were U.S. District Chief Judge John M. Roll; Gabriel Zimmerman, a 30-year-old aide of Mrs. Giffords; Dorothy Morris, 76; Dorwin Stoddard, 76; Phyllis Scheck, 79, and 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, who went to the event because of a budding interest in politics.

The 13 others wounded along with Mrs. Giffords, a three-term centrist lawmaker, are expected to survive.

While Mrs. Giffords condition — critical, but stable — has remained unchanged for several days, doctors remain hopeful.

“She has a 101 percent chance of surviving,” said Dr. Peter Rhee, the hospital’s trauma care chief. “She will not die. She does not have that permission from me.”

The Pima County Sheriffs Office in Tucson announced Tuesday that a funeral for Christina is scheduled for Thursday, while Judge Roll’s funeral is scheduled for Friday.

Arizona lawmakers approved emergency legislation Tuesday after a 90-minute session that would stop a fringe anti-gay group from protesting at the funerals of the victims. The Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., which claims American tragedies are God’s punishment for the nation’s permissive attitudes regarding homosexuality, has said it will picket the funerals, including that of Christina Green.

The Arizona law would prohibit protests at or near funeral sites and takes effect immediately when signed into law by Gov. Jan Brewer, whose spokesman indicated she would sign the bill. The legislation is based on a similar Ohio law that a federal appeals court has upheld.

Law enforcement plans to ensure that the memorial services are not disrupted.

“All the local agencies are working in conjunction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and U.S. marshals to ensure that the events are secure for the families and members of the community to come together to mourn the loss of those who lost their lives in this tragedy,” the Pima County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

State Sen. Paula Aboud, Tucson Democrat, also said volunteers in the city were organizing a human shield to block any protesters from the view of family members.

Doctors initially thought the bullet entered the back of Mrs. Giffords‘ skull and exited the front, but after reviewing X-rays and brain scans, two outside physicians brought in by her medical team now believe she likely was shot in the front of her head.

Mrs. Giffords was fortunate that the bullet did not cross into both sides, or hemispheres, of the brain, which can leave lasting damage, her doctors have said.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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