Video: Tucson mourns as 9-year-old victim buried

  1. Closed captioning of: Tucson mourns as 9-year-old victim buried

    >>> but let us begin with the shooting rampage in arizona as the first victim is laid to rest. miguel, good morning.

    >> reporter: meredith, good morning. four victims are hospitalized, the congresswoman is still in critical condition , this as the first of six funerals was yesterday. they lineded the streets of tucson. some had never met 9-year-old christina taylor green, but still they wanted to say goodbye. a tragic day, just like the day she was born, september 11 , 2001 .

    >> she began her life in a tragedy, 9/11 and her life was ended with a tragedy here in arizona.

    >> reporter: her family paused below a patch work of flags called the ground zero flag, delivered from the site of the world trade center , christina 's small casket passed beneath it too. her brother dallas's tears, her parents pain shared by parents everywhere. christina was the youngest victim, the same age as the first family's youngest daughter sasha. in an open letter to parents across the country, michelle obama urged parents to talk to their children about christina . we can tell them about christina , the first lady wrote and about how much she wanted to give back.

    >> gabe was my best friend, it's going to be harder for me to get through life on a day to day basis.

    >> reporter: and every day, new signs of hope for giffords, christine gilly brand was there for that the first moment described by president obama .

    >> her eyes slowly coming open and her husband could. believe it.

    >> reporter: husband mark kelly urged giffords to give the thumbs up. she raised her arm.

    >> we're saying, gabby, you can do it, everybody that loves this woman are around her hospital bed, all these people are there to say gabby we're with you.

    >> reporter: whmeanwhile police continue to build their case against jared lee loughner. police say thursday they found the bag he carried the day of the shooting.

    >> we end up and retrieved the bag and found inside several boxes of 9 millimeter ammunition.

    >> reporter: the scene of tucson's tragedy, a suburban strip mall has been cleaned, much of the crime tape removed. the grocery store where the congresswoman was shot and six others killed is expected to reopen tomorrow, exactly one week later, a community trying to return to normal as more victims are laid to rest this weekend. back here at the hospital, doctors say the congresswoman is making remarkable strides. the other three victims, meredith, are all in fair conditi condition.

    >> that's good news.

NBC, msnbc.com and news services
updated 1/14/2011 7:51:54 AM ET 2011-01-14T12:51:54

The casket for Christina Taylor Green seemed too small to hold the grief and despair of the 2,000 mourners who packed into St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church on Thursday to say goodbye to the 9-year-old girl whose life began and ended with two of the nation's most soul-searching moments.

Reminders of the innocence of the bubbly girl born on Sept. 11, 2001 were everywhere: A group of little girls dressed in frilly dresses and white tights craned to see as their friend's casket rolled into the church and Christina's best friend sneaked them a wave from her place in the processional line.

Outside the church, more little girls — and hundreds of other people — wearing white and waving American flags lined both sides of the street for more than a quarter-mile to show their support. Hundreds of motorcycle riders from all over stood guard and more than a dozen residents were dressed as angels.

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Before the service, Christina's family and closest friends gathered under the enormous American flag recovered from Ground Zero and paused for a moment of silence, holding hands and crying. White-gloved state troopers escorted family and dignitaries into the church as a choir sang hymns.

Video: Tucson mourns as 9-year-old victim buried (on this page)

"She would want to say to us today, 'Enjoy life,'" said Bishop Gerald Kicanas, who presided over the funeral. "She would want to say to us today, 'God has loved me so much. He has put his hand on me and prepared a place for me.'"

"Her time to be born was Sept. 11, 2001," he said. "Her time to die was the tragic day, Jan. 8, 2011, just nine years old she was. But she has found her dwelling place in God's mansion. She went home."

Image: Woman holds funeral service program for Christina Green in Tucson
Mike Segar  /  Reuters
A woman holds the service program from the funeral for 9-year-old Christina Green.

As Christina's family grieved, new developments emerged in the case when a man walking his dog found a black bag containing ammunition that authorities believe was discarded by the suspected gunman, 22-year-old Jared Loughner.

At the church, the focus was on the little girl who was an avid swimmer and dancer, a budding politician and the only girl on her Little League team. Mounds of flowers — pink roses and wreaths — surrounded the closed casket and a large photo of Christina and her older brother, 11-year-old Dallas, stood at the entrance to the church.

Her father, John Green, recalled in an emotional eulogy how his daughter used to pick blueberries, loved snorkeling and played for hours with her cousins and brother behind the house, directing the activities.

Story: Doctor 'actually confident' of Giffords' recovery

He recalled how once, upon returning from a two-week trip, he found his daughter and his wife dancing in the hallway, full of life and happiness.

"Christina Taylor Green, I can't tell you how much we all miss you," her father said, according to the Arizona Daily Star. "I think you have affected the whole country."

Dante Mitchell, 8, was one of Christina's classmates who came to say goodbye and try to make sense of losing a friend he chased on the playground and battled with in break-dancing contests. He's been sad since the shooting, his mother said, and asked to bring a giant teddy bear to Christina's funeral because she loved animals.

"This was kind of a closure for him. He was in the car coming here saying he was feeling sad about it," said Leshan Mitchell, as she and her son left the service. "He said, 'Mom, I'm feeling really sad now' and I said, 'People who didn't know her are feeling sad, too, and it's OK to cry and it's OK to be angry."

Angie Yrigoyen, who knew Christina through her 11-year-old grandson Dominic, was still emotional as she left the church and said the funeral captured the little girl's spirit in a way that moved her profoundly.

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"She was like a grown-up in a child's body," said Yrigoyen, 77, as she broke into tears. "I saw her as a very happy child. I hope the one thing that she brings to our city, our state and country is peace."

Billy Joel's "Lullaby," which begins "Goodnight, my angel, time to close your eyes," was performed at the end, according to people who attended.

"We've all been affected in Tucson," said Maggie Parisoff, 35, a crisis counselor roving through the crowd outside the church to offer help to anyone in need.

Christina's funeral will be followed on Friday by that of federal Judge John Roll, who was gunned down alongside her after he called in at the "Congress on the corner" event to see Giffords, who was a friend.

In related developments Thursday:

Ammunition bag: An 18-year-old found the bag on Thursday morning in a neighborhood near where the suspect lives, Chief Rick Kastigar with the Pima County Sheriff's Office said.

Interactive: Tragedy in Tucson: The shooting victims (on this page)

The found bag is believed to be the black bag that Randy Loughner described his son, Jared, carrying the morning of the shooting, the Pima County Sheriff's office said in a statement. The bag was handed over to the FBI for further analysis.

The bag turned out to be a diaper bag that looked like a backpack and contained 9mm ammunition, authorities said.

McCains visit: Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and his wife, Cindy, attended Christina's funeral and met with her family privately after the service, NBC News reported. Earlier the couple visited University Medical Center to meet with shooting victims and their families, including Giffords astronaut husband, Mark Kelly, and with hospital workers.

Interactive: Giffords' shooting (on this page)

New details emerge: Loughner, authorities said, in the hours before the shooting hustled to Walmart twice, was caught by police running a red light but was let go with a warning, and later grabbed a black bag from the trunk of a family car before fleeing into the desert on foot with his suspicious father giving chase. Eventually, he took a cab to the grocery store where he opened fire on Giffords and a line of people waiting to speak to her. Authorities said Thursday that Loughner was also carrying a knife but didn't use it.

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Breakup: Kelsey Hawkes said Thursday on CBS' "The Early Show" that when she dated Loughner six years ago when they were both in high school, he showed no violent tendencies.

"Back then he was completely different of a person. Very caring, very sweet, a gentle, kind, you know, a little bit quiet. But altogether a pretty great guy," she said.

Crime scene cleanup: At the Safeway store parking lot, crews began cleaning up the area after the FBI told local authorities the agency had completed its investigation there, NBC News reported. Crime scene tape is expected to be removed and all the evidence trucks from the FBI will move out.

It was unclear when the Safeway store would definitely reopen, the sheriff's department said, but the store will remained closed Thursday and Friday with a possible Saturday opening.

NASA backup: The space agency said in the event Giffords' husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, could not fulfill his mission while his wife undergoes treatment for injuries sustained in the massacre, veteran astronaut Rick Sturchow will serve as a backup commander during Kelly's absence, NBC News reported. Kelly was due to command the shuttle Endeavour for a planned April 19 launch.

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"I recommended to my management that we take steps now to prepare to complete the mission in my absence, if necessary," Kelly said. "I am very hopeful that I will be in a position to rejoin my crew to finish our training."

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Suspect's family suffering: Randy Loughner's sister, Jared Loughner's aunt, on Thursday told the Arizona Republic that her family also is a victim and suffering after Saturday's attack.

Mary Mitchell told the newspaper she feels sorry for the victims, but "I also feel sorry for my brother and sister-in-law. They have to live with this the rest of their lives."

She said the Loughners feel as if they've lost a son. "They adored their son. They did their best to raise their son, the best they could do," she told the paper. "We need to quit talking about all the politics. It's disrespectful."

NBC News, the Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Photos: Mourning follows deadly shooting in Arizona

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  1. A hearse carrying the remains of U.S. District Judge John Roll arrives at the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church before his funeral on in Tucson, Ariz., Friday, Jan. 14. Roll was killed in the Jan. 8 shooting that left six dead and wounded 13, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. (Morry Gash / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Mary Kool holds a single red rose outside the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church where the funeral of U.S. District Judge John Roll was to take place. (Eric Thayer / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Mourners arrive at the funeral service of Judge Roll. (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. A flag recovered from ground zero is raised during funeral service for 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green at the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Tucson, on Thursday, Jan. 13. Green was the youngest victim of the shooting rampage. Green was born on Sept. 11, 2001. (Mamta Popat / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Left to right, Roxanna and John Green, mother and father of Christina Taylor Green, and their son Dallas Green, arrive at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church for her funeral in Tucson on Thursday. (Mamta Popat / Pool via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. 2,000 mourners were in attendance at the funeral of Christina Taylor Green on Thursday in Tucson. (Mamta Popat  / Pool via EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. People dressed as angels line the street leading to the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church where the funeral for Christina Taylor Green was to take place in Tucson on Thursday. Hundreds, dressed in white, lined the streets for more than a quarter mile of the funeral procession. (Mike Segar / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. John Green kisses his son Dallas on the head as the family follows the casket of Christina Taylor Green at her funeral mass in Tucson, on Thursday. At left is Christina's mother Roxanna and at right is Camden Grant, Christina's godmother's son. (Rick Wilking / Pool via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. A young mourner carries flowers and a teddy bear to the funeral of Christina Taylor Green in Tucson on Thursday. (Mamta Popat / Pool via EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Cindy and John McCain listen during the funeral service for shooting victim Christina Taylor Green in Tucson on Thursday. (Greg Bryan / Pool via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A woman holds the service program from the funeral for 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green outside St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Tucson on Thursday. (Mike Segar / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. President Barack Obama speaks at the University of Arizona's McKale Memorial Center during the memorial service for victims of the shootings in Tucson. Obama told the crowd on Wednesday, Jan. 12, that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had opened her eyes for the first time since being shot in the head during the attack on Jan. 8. Six people were killed and 13 wounded by the lone gunman. (Jewel Samad / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Daniel Hernandez , the 20-year-old intern credited with likely saving the life of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, hugs her husband, NASA shuttle commander Mark Kelly, as U.S. first lady Michelle Obama applauds. (Jim Young / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. First lady Michelle Obama holds the hand of Rep. Gabrielle Gifford's husband, NASA shuttle commander Mark Kelly, as they listen to President Barack Obama speak. (Jim Young / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. People sing the national anthem during the memorial service on the University of Arizona campus in Tucson. (Chris Carlson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama at the start of the memorial event. (Jewel Samad / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. People line up at the University of Arizona campus for the memorial service. (David Becker / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Barb Tuttle is overcome with emotion at a makeshift memorial outside the office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on Jan. 12 in Tucson. (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Women waiting in line for the memorial service look at the campus paper at the University of Arizona. (Rick Wilking / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Mark Kelly, husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, holds his wife's hand in the congresswoman's hospital room at University Medical Center on Jan. 9. (Offiice Of Gabrielle Giffords / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Ron Barber, 65, district director for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, is visited by Giffords aide Daniel Hernandez in his hospital room on Jan. 9. Hernandez rushed to Gifford's aid after she was shot. Hernandez said that while he held the wounded Giffords, he asked another bystander to put pressure on Barber's wounds. He also asked Barber for his wife's phone number and then shouted it out to someone so that Barber's wife, Nancy, could be informed of the shooting. (Gabrielle Giffords' Office / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama observe a moment of silence with White House staff members on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on Jan. 10. (Jewel Samad / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Congressional staff observe a moment of silence to honor victims of the assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on the steps of the Capitol in Washington. (Michael Reynolds / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Rachel Cooper-Blackmore, 9, adds a note to a memorial at Mesa Verde Elementary School in Tucson, on Jan. 10. Christina Taylor Green, 9, was killed during the Tucson attack. (Chris Carlson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Rachel Crabb, 5, holds hands with teachers, parents and other students during a moment of silence for her slain schoolmate, Christina Taylor Green, at Mesa Verde Elementary School on Jan. 9. (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Candles are lit on Sunday at a makeshift memorial outside University Medical Center in Tuscon, Ariz., for those killed or wounded during the attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords . (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Ellie Steve, 6, from left, Lucia Reeves, 6, and Zoe Reeves, 18, gather for a candlelight vigil outside the office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Ariz., on Sunday. (Chris Carlson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Six balloons representing the six people killed in Saturday's shooting spree, as part of a prayer vigil.Rep. Gabrielle Giffords battled for her life on Sunday after an assailant shot her in the head and killed six others in a rampage that has launched a debate about extreme political rhetoric in America. (Eric Thayer / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. People console each other at a makeshift memorial located outside the University Medical Center on Jan. 9 in Tucson, Ariz. (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. The American flag flies at half-staff on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, on Jan. 9. In a brief statement Sunday morning, House Speaker John Boehner said flags on the House side of the Capitol in Washington will be flown at half-staff to honor the slain aide, Gabe Zimmerman, of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Thirty-year-old Zimmerman was among six killed Saturday. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. The congregation prays for the victims of Saturday's shooting in Tuscon, at the Pantano Christian Church in East Tucson, Jan. 9. (Rick Wilking / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Monty Edmonds, 36, left, of Tucson; Maggie Kipling, 34, of Tucson; Leigh Harris, 50, of Phoenix; Bella Furr, 21, of Tucson; and Sarah Herrmann, 22, of Tucson participate in a vigil at University Medical Center for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot during an event in front of a Safeway grocery store Jan. 8, in Tucson, Ariz. (Laura Segall / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Emergency personnel use a stretcher to move Rep. Gabrielle Giffords after she was shot in the head outside a shopping center in Tucson on Saturday. (James Palka / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Ernie Freuler fights back tears as Ray Lilley takes photos of the scene outside the office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords after she was shot in the head by a gunman who opened fire outside a grocery store, Saturday, Jan. 8, in Tucson, Ariz. (Chris Morrison / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. A law enforcement officer stands outside the home of Jared L. Loughner, identified by federal officials as the suspect arrested in connection with the shooting of U.S Representative Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Ariz., Jan. 8. (Eric Thayer / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. People gather for a candlelight vigil for the victims of the shooting in Arizona at the steps of Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Saturday Jan. 8. (Jose Luis Magana / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. Vera Rapcsak and others hold signs outside the office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on Saturday after she was shot while meeting constituents. (Chris Morrison / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. Emergency personnel attend to a shooting victim outside a shopping center in Tucson, Ariz. on Saturday, Jan. 8, where Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others were shot as the congresswoman was meeting with constituents. Rep. Giffords, 40, a Democrat, took office in January 2007, emphasizing issues such as immigration reform, embryonic stem-cell research, alternative energy sources and a higher minimum wage. The gunman shot Giffords in the head, seriously wounding her, and killed six other people in a shooting rampage at a public meeting in Tucson on Saturday. Giffords was airlifted to a hospital in Tucson where she underwent surgery. One of the doctors who treated her said he was optimistic about her recovery. (James Palka / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. A woman places flowers by the office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on Capitol Hill in Washington on Saturday after she was shot in Tucson by a gunman who opened fire, killing six people, including a U.S. district judge, John M. Roll. (Nicholas Kamm / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. In this photo provided by The White House, President Barack Obama talks with Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer about the shooting. (Pete Souza / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. Emergency personnel at the scene where Giffords and others were shot outside a Safeway grocery store in Tucson on Saturday. (Matt York / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. Law enforcement personnel work the crime scene on Saturday. (Eric Thayer / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. A medical helicopter evacuates victims from the shooting scene. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
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