'Moment of silence' honors Giffords, Tucson shooting victims

CBS News

President Barack Obama led a national moment of silence Monday to honor the dead and wounded in a Tucson shooting spree Saturday that left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat and wife of shuttle commander Mark Kelly, in critical condition with a gunshot wound to the head.

President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle lead a national moment of silence in honor of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and other victims of a shooting spree in Tucson Saturday. (Photo: The White House)
The president did not speak during the observance, but in a statement Sunday he urged the nation to "come together ... in prayer or reflection, keeping the victims and their families closely at heart."

Aboard the International Space Station Monday, commander Scott Kelly, Mark Kelly's twin brother, spoke briefly "to recognize a moment of silence in honor of the victims of the Tucson shooting tragedy."

"We have a unique vantage point here aboard the International Space Station," he radioed from orbit. "As I look out the window, I see a very beautiful planet that seems very inviting and peaceful. Unfortunately, it is not. These days, we're constantly reminded of the unspeakable acts of violence and damage we can inflict upon one another, not just with our actions but also with our irresponsible words. We are better than this. We must do better.

"The crew of ISS Expedition 26 and the flight control centers around the world would like to observe a moment of silence in honor of all the victims ... which include my sister-in-law, Gabrielle Giffords, a caring and dedicated public servant. Please join me and the rest of the ISS Expedition 26 crew in a moment of silence."

After a one-minute pause, Kelly thanked the flight control team and the station crew resumed their normal duties.

Giffords, a Democrat representing Arizona's 8th Congressional District, was shot in the head at point blank range Saturday during a public meeting in front of a Tucson supermarket. She was one of 20 people who were shot when Jared Loughner, a 22-year-old college dropout, allegedly opened fire with a semi-automatic pistol. Six were killed, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl.

Giffords suffered a single gunshot wound to the head, with the bullet passing through the left side of her brain. She remains in critical condition and while she is able to respond to simple commands, raising optimism about her eventual recovery, doctors will not speculate on her long-term prospects.

Her husband, veteran of three previous shuttle flights, is scheduled to command the shuttle Endeavour's final mission in April. He flew to Tucson Saturday and he has not yet offered any public comment. It is not yet known if he will be able to continue as the commander of shuttle mission STS-134, given the demands of his wife's recovery and the intense training required for crews of upcoming shuttle missions.