Tucson Marks Anniversary Of Giffords Shooting

Tucson, Ariz., marked Sunday the first anniversary of the shooting that left six dead and 13 wounded, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Guy Raz talks to NPR's Ted Robbins about the mood in the city.

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(SOUNDBITE OF BELLS RINGING)

GUY RAZ, HOST:

Just a few hours ago, bells rang across Tucson in remembrance of the first anniversary of the shootings there, which left six people dead and wounded 13 others, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. That day, a gunman fired more than 30 shots at a constituent event hosted by Giffords outside a Safeway supermarket. NPR's Ted Robbins joins me now from in front of that Safeway. Ted, it's hard to believe it's already been a year.

TED ROBBINS, BYLINE: It is, Guy. I was near here a year ago when you and I first spoke after the shooting. It was chaotic. There were ambulances, police tape around the whole area and a lot of shock. And at that point, nobody knew how many people had been shot or who was dead and who was wounded.

It's a much more pleasant scene now. There are still pockmarks in the pavement where the bullets struck. And last year, they were covered with piles of flowers within a day or two. Right now, there's a new makeshift memorial for the anniversary and there are flower bouquets and candles being placed right now as we speak.

We spoke with Heather Nutbrown and her mother Kim Nutbrown. They and a friend showed up at the Safeway for the bell ringing earlier today. It was done at the exact time of the shooting, 11 minutes after 10 o'clock in the morning local time.

HEATHER NUTBROWN: We came here after it happened and we felt like we needed to come here again. And the three of us came, so we came again together.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Yeah.

KIM NUTBROWN: Yeah. I think the message is to have hope and to be kind. You never know what tomorrow brings, and it does makes you feel full of hope actually. It really does.

RAZ: What is it that makes her feel hopeful? What did she say?

ROBBINS: Well, they actually found bells here, which had been left by a Tucson organization, which promotes kindness, Ben's Bells. There have also been a lot of events this weekend already, which have focused around health and resilience. Gabby Giffords showed up unannounced at one of them, at a trailhead, which is near Tucson and has been dedicated to Gabe Zimmerman, her staff member who was killed.

RAZ: Hmm. And now, I assume the events are more solemn. Is Giffords going to be at any of those?

ROBBINS: Yes. There is a program at the University of Arizona in which people are speaking in remembrance of those killed and wounded, and then a candlelight vigil this evening outside on the university mall. Gabby Giffords will be there along with her husband, Mark Kelly. We don't expect her to say anything publicly. She is still recovering from that gunshot wound to her head and it's affected her speech. But you never know.

President Obama phoned Giffords today in advance of the candle lighting. He was offering his support to her and to the other families who were affected.

RAZ: Ted, this was such a huge event for the community, for Tucson. How are people you've spoken with - how are they handling this?

ROBBINS: Well, some of them left Tucson. They felt they could better handle this anniversary away from the public. But it's been a pretty supportive weekend here. There's been a lot of hugging, even hugs for me, not something reporters are used to getting. Some people have told me that they expect to be emotionally drained by the end of today, and they said they'll focus on recovering tomorrow or Tuesday.

RAZ: That's NPR's Ted Robbins reporting from Tucson on the one-year anniversary of the shootings there that left six dead and 13 wounded, including, of course, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Ted, thank you so much.

ROBBINS: It's good to be with you, Guy.

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