TUCSON, Ariz. -- Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) paid her last visit to Tucson as Southern Arizona’s representative Monday afternoon. She chose to tour a family help center built with the money that was donated after she was shot in the head.
The congresswoman walked stiffly up the ramp of the charity’s massive warehouse. She wore a blue-green scarf. She was surrounded by an entourage of aides and security guards. She’s always considered this one of her favorite charities. After the January 8 shootings, the food bank set up the Gabrielle Giffords Family Assistance Center with $215,000 in donations.
When she walked in, the employees of the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona broke into cheers. She hasn’t been here since the month before she was shot.
Bill Carnegie, CEO of the food bank, said he had mixed emotions from the visit.
“We’re going to walk some of the same steps we did when she was here. So emotionally, it’s kind of a tough day," said Carnegie, who then paused and continued: "It's bittersweet.”
She’ll attend the State of the Union Tuesday night. But for her time in Tucson, this was the end of her five year career in federal service. She announced on Sunday she will be stepping down, which will lead to a special election to select her replacement.
Six people were slain - including federal Judge John Roll - and another 14 were shot.
The man charged with the shooting rampage, Jared Lee Loughner, is receiving medication in prison as the judicial system determines whether he is fit to stand trial on murder and numerous other charges.
Loughner has a history of mental illness.