TUCSON — Survivors and those remembering victims are making plans to mark the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 8 shooting rampage in Tucson that killed six and injured 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).
Some survivors, including Giffords’s staff members Ron Barber and Pam Simon, plan on attending numerous events on the anniversary. Others, such as 76-year-old survivor Mavy Stoddard — whose husband died shielding her from bullets — plan on staying home with loved ones who will help them get through the emotional day.
“The whole weekend of the anniversary, I think is going to be tough,” Barber said recently in an interview in Giffords’s Tucson office.
Barber was shot in the cheek and thigh. He still walks with a cane, meets with a therapist and is working on a part-time basis because of fatigue.
Barber said he has been reliving the terrible moments of the shooting in nightmares and flashbacks as he helps plan events marking the day, which he envisions as a time of togetherness and healing for Tucson.
“This wasn’t just an emotional wound for those of us who were there, but our entire community was shocked — a lot of people still cry when they see me,” he said. “We’re bringing the community together in a way that they came together [after the shooting].”
In the weeks after the shooting, Tucson residents turned out in droves to contribute to memorials at Giffords’s office, the hospital where survivors were treated and in front of the grocery store where the shooting happened. All of the people wounded that day say that neighbors brought food that kept them fed for two months.
Simon said she feels a responsibility to go to all of the events planned Jan. 8, in part because her colleague and friend Gabe Zimmerman and others who were there for Giffords that day were killed.
“It’s emotionally tough sometimes,” she said. “But people got wounded when they came to see Gabby, and as one of her staff, it’s very, very important for me to be there for the community. It’s a privilege and an honor.”
The events include a community-wide ringing of bells at churches and by people throughout the city at 10:11 a.m., the time the shooting broke out; an interfaith service at St. Augustine Cathedral; and a series of talks reflecting the lives of Giffords and the six people killed in the shooting.
The congresswoman survived a gunshot wound to the head and has been undergoing extensive physical and speech therapy in Houston for the past year. It is unclear whether she will attend any of the events.
Speakers will include U.S. District Judge Raner Collins, who will remember shooting victim and fellow federal judge John Roll; Barber, who will speak about Stoddard’s husband, Dory; and Serenity Hammerich, who will talk about her best friend and the youngest shooting victim, 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green.