At least 11 others including some of her staff members were reported to have been injured, some seriously, and there were reports that between four and six people had died. There were conflicting reports over whether Miss Gifford had herself been killed.
Miss Giffords, 40, who is married to astronaut Mark Kelly, was talking to a couple outside a Safeway grocery store when the attacker ran up and opened fire indiscriminately.
She was shot point blank in the head. At least 11 other people were reported to have been killed or injured in the rampage which occurred mid-morning local time.
Andrea Gooden, an eyewitness who was working across the road from the scene, said: “I heard about 15 shots. Then there were people racing across the parking lot.” She said there were many sheriffs and firefighters on the scene within minutes.
A respected US website reported another eye-witness, Steven Rayle, who was on the scene at the time of the shooting and helped to hold the suspect down while waiting for police. He told Gawker.com: “The event was very informal: Gifford had set up a table outside the Safeway and about 20-30 people were gathered to talk to her. The gunman, who may have come from inside the Safeway, walked up and shot Gifford in the head first.”