Local Pols React with Shock, Sadness to Giffords Shooting

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who described Giffords as a close friend, called the event a "hateful crime."

Tri-state political leaders reacted with shock and concern over the attempted assassination of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords -- a shooting that left the Democratic politician hospitalized and six other people dead, among them a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl.

Giffords, 40, had been meeting with constituents at an Arizona store when a gunman opened fire on Saturday. Thirteen people were wounded in a spray of bullets.  As of Sunday afternoon, Giffords was in critical condition with doctors saying they are "cautiously optimistic."

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Sunday “I think that millions of people in New York, and in every part of our country and from every corner of the world, are doing the same today. These shootings are just terrible examples, and a terrible reminder, of the gun violence that happens every single day in our country."

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who described Giffords as a close friend, called the event a "hateful crime" that is a "tragedy beyond words."

"Rep. Giffords is truly a coalition builder, and at the time of this shooting, she was doing what she was elected to do--working on behalf of her consituents," said Rep. Edolphus Towns, who represents the 10th District in Brooklyn, in a statement.

North Jersey Congressman Steven Rothman, a fellow Democrat, called Giffords "kind, brilliant, beautiful, charming, intellectually curious, intellectually honest and a powerful presence."

He should know. Rothman serves on the Space and Aeronautics subcommittee that Giffords chairs.  Rothman called his fellow Congresswoman "one of the most amazing people I've met in my life."

President Obama also condemned the shooting, saying, "such a senseless and terrible act of violence has no place in a free society."

Six people were killed, including 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, born on Sept. 11, 2001.  She was the granddaughter of former Philadelphia Phillies manager Dallas Green, the team said.  Also killed was Giffords' aide, Gabe Zimmerman. 

Rep. Rothman noted that while Giffords won a tough re-election battle last November in the midst of a Republican tidal wave, "Her constituents, while the did not always share her political views, respected the heck out of her when she was always ready to help them and fight for what is right."

Giffords was one of at least 10 House Democrats harassed last year for support of the health care reform legislation.  The front door of her office in Tucson was shattered in an act of vandalism.

One of the alleged shooters, Jared Lee Loughner, 22, is currently being held in custody, and another person of interest is being questioned by Pima County officials. "The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous," Pima County Sherrif Dupnik said. 

"And unfortuntely," the sheriff continued, "Arizona I think has become the capital.  We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry."

Meanwhile, Connecticut Rep. John Larson, who heads the House Democratic Caucus, says lawmakers will continue to have open sessions with their constituents. 

New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez "this was a vicious and intolerable act that contradicts the values on which our great nation is built."

Sen. Charles Schumer called  today's "senseless and savage" shooting an American tragedy.

"Congresswoman Giffords is known throughout Tucson and our nation's capital for her kindness, her considerable intellect, and her zest for life," he said, adding that she was a trailblazer as the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.

 Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY

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