Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot and critically wounded Saturday morning while hosting an event outside a Tucson grocery store, according to local news reports, a tragic turn of events after an unusually heated campaign season.
President Obama said in a statement that some people had died in the shooting, and that Giffords was "gravely wounded."
C.J. Karamargin, Giffords' spokesman, told the Washington Post on Saturday afternoon that Giffords was in surgery. Earlier in the afternoon, CNN and NPR reported that she had died.
Giffords, who in November narrowly won reelection to a third term, was hosting her first "Congress on Your Corner" event when a gunman ran up and began shooting her and others in her entourage with a Glock handgun, according to law enforcement sources. The gunman is in custody.
According to a local news report, Giffords was shot in the head at point-blank range. She was taken to University Medical Center in Tucson, but was reported to have been responsive immediately after the shooting. A hospital spokesperson told CNN that nine people had arrived and that all were in critical or serious condition, including a child.
"We do not yet have all the answers. What we do know is that such a senseless and terrible act of violence has no place in a free society," Obama said. "I ask all Americans to join me and Michelle in keeping Representative Giffords, the victims of this tragedy, and their families in our prayers."
Last March, Giffords was one of ten House Democrats who were the subject of harassment over their support for the national health care overhaul. At the time, the front door of Giffords' Tucson office had been shattered in an early morning incident.
Giffords had been a top target by Republicans in the 2010 midterm elections, but managed to win a tough re-election battle against a tea party candidate.
The up-and-coming lawmaker, known as a moderate Democrat who paid close attention to constituent concerns, had been singled out by Sarah Palin's SarahPac as one of the 20 Democrats on the ballot in November who represented states that supported Sen. John McCain for president in 2008. "It's time to take a stand," Palin's fundraising appeal said of Giffords and the other Democrats, who had all supported the health-care bill.