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Gabrielle Giffords improving; Tucson holds walk for peace

A friend of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, critically injured in the Tucson shootings, says she's 'making progress every day.' Meanwhile, about 500 people take a symbolic walk for peace through the city.

January 17, 2011|By Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Michael Muskal, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Tucson and Los Angeles — U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords continues her recovery from a gunshot wound to the head and is able to move both sides of her body, a senator who is a friend of the lawmaker said on Sunday..

Speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press," Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said she had talked with Giffords' husband, Mark Kelly, on Saturday night. The astronaut described the latest progress in his critically injured wife's recovery after the Jan. 8 shooting.

"She's making progress every day," Gillibrand said. "She's using both sides of her body. She's able to breathe on her own. She's able to open her eyes and to show people she understands what she's hearing and seeing. So … it's an extraordinary amount of progress for a woman who sustained such a horrific injury that she did."

Giffords was the primary target in the attack outside a Safeway market in Tucson where the congresswoman had gone to meet with constituents. Six died and 13, including Giffords, were wounded in the shooting.

About 500 people joined a walk for peace Sunday morning through Tucson neighborhoods, traveling about two miles from a local park to the memorial outside Giffords' office.

Nancy Levy, 44, brought her 9-year-old daughter, Maya, and a handmade sign that said, "We love you Gabby."

"We're heartbroken that anything like this could happen here," Levy said. She said she joined the walk with a friend "to make something positive out of something so negative, maybe make people think about being kind to each other."

Blaze Mason, 56, freelance book editor, said that although a week has passed, residents were still visiting memorials and grieving.

"People are still feeling like we as a community have to do something," she said. "This way, we at least feel like we made some action that can help to heal the whole planet."

According to University Medical Center in Tucson, where Giffords is being treated, she remains in critical condition but has been improving steadily. On Saturday, doctors performed a tracheotomy to replace the breathing tube that ran down her throat, protecting her airways and freeing her from the ventilator. Surgeons also inserted a feeding tube, the hospital said in a statement posted on its website.

In addition to Giffords, two others injured in the attack remained at the hospital; both are listed in good condition.

In Tucson, the funerals, which began last week, continued Sunday.

A funeral was set to be held for Dorwan Stoddard, the retired construction worker who died while shielding his wife, Mavy, from the hail of bullets. Mavy Stoddard was wounded by three shots but was recovering.

Also killed in the attack were: 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green; federal Judge John M. Roll, 63; Gabe Zimmerman, 30; Dorothy Morris, 76; and Phyllis Schneck, 79.

Jared Lee Loughner, who was apprehended at the scene, is charged with five counts of murder and attempted murder of federal employees in connection with the shooting.

molly.hennessy-fiske@latimes.com

michael.muskal@latimes.com

Hennessy-Fiske reported from Tucson and Muskal from Los Angeles.

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