By Monifa Thomas and Dan Rozek Staff Reporters
Emergency personnel attend to a shooting victim outside a shopping center in Tucson, Ariz. on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011 where U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and others were shot as the congresswoman was meeting with constituents. (AP Photo/James Palka)
The Arizona shootings that killed six people and critically wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords while she met Saturday with constituents devastated her congressional colleagues in the Chicago area.
The incident, in which another 18 people were injured, shook politicians on both sides of the aisle.
U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert, a Republican who represents Illinois’ 13th District in the west and southwest suburbs, called the shooting “a shocking tragedy.” Biggert, who serves with Giffords on the House Science and Technology Committee, said she last saw Giffords on the House floor last week during a reading of the U.S. Constitution.
She said Giffords is an outspoken legislator who doesn’t shy away from controversial issues such as immigration reform. She is known for her strong work ethic; Biggert praised her for holding a townhall meeting so soon after the holidays during the first week Congress was back in session.
U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, who is also on the science and technology committee, said Giffords is “friendly, hard-working and down-to-Earth.’’ In a statement, the Chicago Democrat said the shooting “represents a rejection not just of every principle this country stands for, but of all civilized society and human decency.’’
U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky called it “particularly shocking’’ that Giffords would be targeted by a gunman because she “conducts herself in a dignified, civil manner.’’
“She is a refreshing and thoughtful voice in the Congress and is dedicated to the people of her district, to whom she is always accessible,’’ said Schakowsky, a North Shore Democrat.
U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush said he was “heartbroken’’ by the shooting of a colleague, which he said will make him more vigilant about the safety of his staff and himself.