Updated: 5:55 p.m.
Democratic and Republican leaders hailed Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ tough spirit and work ethic in a series of statements issued just hours after the Arizona Democrat was shot during a public event in her district.
“Congresswoman Giffords is a brilliant and courageous Member of Congress, bringing to Washington the views of a new generation of national leaders,” Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement. “It is especially tragic that she was attacked as she was meeting with her constituents whom she serves with such dedication and distinction.”
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he was “horrified by the senseless attack” on the three-term lawmaker. Giffords and as many as 10 people were injured when an unknown gunman approached Giffords and a group of constituents outside a Safeway in Tucson, Ariz., and began firing.
“An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve,” Boehner said. “Acts and threats of violence against public officials have no place in our society. Our prayers are with Congresswoman Giffords, her staff, all who were injured, and their families. This is a sad day for our country.”
Some suggested that politics was to blame for Saturday’s tragic event, which included the shooting of Giffords and as many as 12 other people during a “Congress on the Corner” event at a Tucson Safeway grocery store at about 10:30 a.m. Mountain time.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) called the shooting “both a personal tragedy and a tragic reminder that we cannot remain silent when political rhetoric turns violent.”
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine added, “We must all reaffirm that there is no place in our country for violent attacks of this kind on public servants or any citizen for any reason.”
“Our form of government, like all human things, is imperfect and flawed; but one of its greatest virtues is its power to resolve questions of the greatest import without violence,” Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said in a statement. “An attack on a member of that government — of whatever party or whatever views — is an attack on that principle, in which every American has a stake.”
Republican leaders also expressed dismay and acknowledged the security threat the shooting may pose for other Members.
“This senseless attack today in Tucson is a national tragedy, and all America mourns those who lost their lives in the very act of public service,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement. “I join the entire Congress in condemning this horrifying act of violence, and on behalf of the entire Senate family, Elaine and I extend our deepest expressions of sympathy and heartfelt prayers to Rep. Giffords and the families of those who have been killed or injured.”
House Majority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said he was in “close communications” with leaders from both parties in anticipation of scheduling changes that are likely to take place in the week ahead.
Kathleen Hunter and Jennifer Bendery contributed to this report.