Breaking News Emails
Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was gravely wounded in an assassination attempt six years ago, said Wednesday that her "heart" was with Rep. Steve Scalise and others involved in the shooting in Alexandria, Virginia.
In the aftermath of the shooting, Giffords called for Congress to unite across both sides of the aisle and said the shooting was an attack "on all who participate in our democracy."
"I am heartbroken for the pain of Congressman Scalise, the other victims, and their family, friends and colleagues who survived," Giffords said in the statement.
She also praised the Capitol Police, who were the first to respond to the shooting.
"I am thankful for the great courage of the Capitol Police, who were my protectors after I was shot and became my friends," Giffords said. "I also know the courage it takes to recover from a shooting like this, and I know Steve and everyone there this morning have such courage in great supply."
Scalise was shot in the hip and is said to be recovering from surgery. Earlier reports said the suspect wounded five people, but he wounded four, including Scalise, while two others suffered ankle injuries.
When she was a Democratic congresswoman from Arizona, Giffords was shot in the head and seriously injured alongside 18 others during a 2011 constituent event she was holding in a grocery store parking lot in Tucson. The shooter, Jared Loughner, later plead guilty to 19 charges, including murder and attempted assassination of a member of Congress and was sentenced to life in prison.
Giffords, who underwent a difficult recovery from a brain injury, returned to work on the Hill less than a year after the shooting and has become a vocal advocate for gun control since leaving Congress in 2012.
"May all Americans come together today with prayers for the survivors, love for their friends and family, and the courage to go about everyday making this country its best," she said.
"Our nation is resilient, and we always come back stronger."
In 2013, Giffords launched the nonprofit Americans for Responsible Solutions, with her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly.
Their organization aims to end gun violence and “encourage elected officials to stand up for solutions to prevent gun violence and protect responsible gun ownership.”
Kelly told MSNBC's Brian Williams that when he learned House Whip Scalise had been shot, his thoughts immediately went to moment he learned his wife had been shot.
"I thought about his family and what they must be experiencing right now to find out that he's been shot and wondering what his condition is," Kelly said.
Kelly said both he and Giffords were in New York City Wednesday, and that Giffords has been following the news for updates.
"She's been reaching out to her Republican colleagues that she knows and also members of the Capitol police," he said. "These people become very close to members of Congress and we're very concerned about them and their families as well."
Giffords was honored over the weekend at the christening of the USS Gabrielle Giffords. Kelly said the naming of the ship has been a "great honor" for both him and Giffords.
Despite the shooting, Kelly urged members of Congress not to be cowed in the face of violence and to continue to meet with constituents.
"Things like this are an assault on our democracy," he said. "Unfortunately, it's a dangerous country we live in but there are things we can do to try and make it a safer place."