Arizona residents pour out grief over shooting


PHOENIX – Arizona residents poured out their grief at a candlelight vigil at the Arizona state capitol building in Phoenix for victims of a shooting rampage at a Tucson shopping center.
Authorities would not give an official estimate, but a small crowd of a few dozen soon grew to number between four and five hundred on a small plaza in front of the capitol complex as night fell. Those gathered mourned for the six victims who were killed in the shooting, and the dozen or so wounded, including US Representative Gabrielle Giffords, the member of Congress who authorities say was the target of the violent attack that occurred outside a Safeway supermarket.
“She is really special,” said Antonio Bustamante, a lawyer from Phoenix, about Giffords. “We all are praying for her.” Authorities in Tucson have confirmed the deaths of six of those shot, including a US federal judge, and a nine year-old girl. A suspect was apprehended and is in custody. Authorities say they have recovered a Glock semi-automatic pistol used in the shooting.
Those assembled at the capitol expressed shock, but many also called for healing and an end to the divisiveness that has been so much a part of the recent political mood in this southwestern state. Giffords, who was shot in the head in the incident, remained in critical condition Saturday night. Physicians treating the two-term Democratic member of Congress in Tucson have expressed optimism that her chances for recovery are good.
On the plaza, Bustamante glanced at others in the crowd around him, some carrying small candles or glowing incense, under the lights of the adjoining state House and Senate chambers. A few sang quietly near the doors of the sandstone facade of the old capitol, adding to the hushed and somber mood. A small table covered with candles, in homage to the victims, had been placed near the doors.
Bustamante voiced concerns felt by many at the vigil, who said they have lived here their entire lives. “Arizona is becoming, nationally and internationally, a really weird place,” he said, referring both to the shooting and to heated controversy over the anti-immigration law passed by state legislators at the capitol earlier this year.


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