UK & World News

  • 9 January 2014, 7:15

Giffords Marks Tucson Shooting With Skydive

Gabrielle Giffords has completed a skydive jump to mark the third anniversary of the Tucson, Arizona, shooting that left her critically wounded.

The former US congresswoman landed without any injury on Wednesday at a site between Phoenix and Tucson.

After completing her landing - a tandem jump with friend and former US Navy Seal Jimmy Hatch - Ms Giffords blew kisses and waved to a crowd of reporters.

She described the jump as a wonderful experience.

Prior to the stunt, Ms Giffords received a phone call from Vice President Joe Biden wishing her good luck.

"Gabby's courage & determination has been absolutely inspirational," Mr Biden wrote on his office's Twitter account.

In Tucson, residents marked the sombre anniversary with a bell-ringing ceremony and a moment of silence outside the University of Arizona Medical Center.

Six people were killed and 12 wounded when gunman Jared Loughner opened fire on January 8, 2011 at a meet-and-greet event held by Ms Giffords.

"The wounds are still there. Time helps, but it doesn't heal all the wounds," Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild said.

"I think the commemorations are, in large part, recognition of our community's collective care and compassion and grit to go on."

Officials have announced plans for a permanent memorial in remembrance of the shootings expected to be located downtown at the Old Pima County Courthouse and in an adjacent park.

The sites would display some of the thousands of items, including letters, candles and flags that were placed in makeshift memorials after the shooting.

Ms Giffords still struggles to speak and walk, but has become a leader of a national organisation she founded with her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, to rival the powerful pro-gun lobby.

Loughner was sentenced in November 2012 to seven consecutive life sentences, plus 140 years, after he pleaded guilty to 19 federal charges in the Arizona shooting.

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