Among those shaken by the horrific shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 18 other people earlier today at a supermarket near Tucson was Giffords' colleague, Rep. Jim Cooper. Audibly upset by reports of the attack, members of Cooper's staff told The City Paper this afternoon that the representative considers Giffords a good friend and had taken the news hard.
When contacted by the CP, Cooper himself had this to say:
“Gabby Giffords is one of the nicest people I've ever met,” Cooper said. “I always worried about her husband, [astronaut] Capt. Mark Kelly, when he was up in space or piloting a Navy plane. It turned out that the real threat was in Arizona."
Cooper, who represents Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District, has enjoyed a close working relationship with Giffords since she began her work in Congress after first being elected in 2006.
“There is no finer person than Gabby Giffords,” Cooper said. “Please pray for her and all the other victims of the shooting.”
Giffords was appearing at a constituent event at a Safeway just north of Tucson when a man ran toward her and shot her in the head. He shot several other people and attempted to flee when a bystander tackled him. Police have yet to name the suspect in custody, but published reports have alleged the shooter is Jared Lee Loughner, 22.
Six people have been reported killed in the attack, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl. Giffords herself, at last report, remains in very critical condition.
A representative of Cooper's staff also told the City Paper that security was said to be tightening in the wake of the attack. Just minutes ago, according to The New York Times' live blog coverage, the House sergeant at arms issued a memo to all members of Congress asking them to be especially alert, while police are now reportedly seeking a second suspect amid mentions of a suspicious package found at Giffords' office.