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Investigators probe Loughner's gun purchase, examine finances

Colleagues pay tribute to wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords during the president's State of the Union address as the Arizona lawmaker begins the next phase of her recovery at a rehab facility in Houston.

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Giffords is still heavily sedated, the doctors said, and has not completely opened her eyes. She is able to breathe on her own, though she remains on a breathing tube. And she has been able to follow commands: squeezing a hand, wiggling toes, giving a thumbs-up sign.

Her congressional office released photos Tuesday night that showed Giffords holding her husband's hand.

Even the simple act of scratching her nose, doctors said, was encouraging. To a neurosurgeon, that is an indication of brain function: the ability to sense an itch, process that signal and respond with movement.

Peter Rhee, chief of the hospital's trauma division, said he thinks Giffords has a "101 percent chance" of surviving. But there are difficulties ahead: the risks of infection and pneumonia, and new tests to determine the damage to her brain.

"I can't tell you whether she will be in a vegetative state," Rhee said. "I hope not."

Giffords, who represents the Tucson area, was shot in the head Saturday at close range while meeting constituents outside a local Safeway. The gunman then sprayed the crowd around her with bullets, killing six people and wounding 13 others.

Investigators with the Pima County Sheriff's Office have told the Associated Press that on the morning of the shooting, Loughner's father confronted him outside the family home as he was removing a black bag from the trunk of a family car.

Jared Loughner, mumbling, grabbed the bag and ran, Capt. Chris Nanos and Rick Kastigar, chief of the department's investigations bureau told AP. The elder Loughner gave chase in his truck. Investigators are still searching for the bag.

Among those injured hours later in the rampage was Susan Hileman, who had taken 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green to meet Giffords at the event. In the gunfire, the girl was killed - the rampage's youngest victim.

Hileman suffered a fractured hip. Her husband said she appeared to be having flashbacks to the shooting, as she came in and out of consciousness in the hospital. He said he heard her screaming: "Christina! Christina, let's get out of here!"

On Thursday, the 9-year-old is scheduled to be buried, an act that, in a media-saturated country, can no longer guarantee its own peace. Members of Westboro Baptist Church, known for picketing U.S. troops' funerals with signs decrying homosexuality, initially plan nedto protest at her service, but have agreed not to do so, the Associated Press reported. Instead, AP reported, they plan to picket the funeral of another victim, U.S. District Judge John Roll's funeral. Church members said that the gunman was "sent . . . to deal with idolatrous America."

But on Tuesday, the Arizona legislature approved and Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signed new legislation designed to keep them at a distance. It bars any protests within 300 feet of funeral sites.


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