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Gabrielle Giffords to attend shooting anniversary vigil in Tucson


Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on May 17.

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will attend a vigil Sunday evening in Tucson to mark the anniversary of the shooting that left her gravely wounded and six people dead, the congresswoman's office said.

The vigil on the University of Arizona Mall is one of many events planned in the Tucson area to observe the anniversary of the shooting. Giffords and her husband, retired Navy Capt. Mark Kelly, both will participate in the vigil.

On Jan. 8, 2011, a man later diagnosed with mental illness shot 19 people at a meet-and-greet event that Giffords was holding at a shopping center in Northwest Tucson. Six people died, including a 9-year-old girl and a federal judge. Giffords was shot in the head and has undergone intensive therapy at a Houston medical center.

Giffords' office said others participating in the event Sunday at the university include Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, Rabbi Stephanie Aaron and Dr. Peter Rhee, chief of the division of trauma, critical care and emergency surgery at the University of Arizona Medical Center. Rhee was among the doctors who treated Giffords and others who were wounded last year.

Ron Barber, Giffords' district director, will be the emcee for the event. Barber was shot in the cheek and thigh last year.

"The whole weekend of the anniversary, I think is going to be tough," Barber recently told The Associated Press in Tucson.

Barber still walks with a cane, meets with a therapist and is working part time because of fatigue.

Barber and his family established the Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding, which will host "Reflections: Honoring the Lives of the January 8 Shooting Victims" at 3 p.m. Sunday in Centennial Hall on the UA campus.

"Congresswoman Giffords wanted to be back in Tucson for this very emotional weekend," Pia Carusone, Giffords' chief of staff, said in a statement.

Giffords will not give interviews, her office said.

The Tucson Symphony Orchestra will perform at the vigil, as will Calexico, one of the congresswoman's favorite local bands, her office said.

This will be the fourth time Giffords has returned to Tucson since the shooting. She flew back for Father's Day, Labor Day and Thanksgiving.

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