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tv   ABC News Good Morning America  ABC  January 9, 2011 7:00am-8:00am PST

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good morning, america. i'm george stephanopoulos in tucson, arizona. this morning, tragedy in tucson. a gunman opens fire during a political event at a grocery store. 6 are dead, 13 wounded. the prime target, congresswoman gabrielle giffords. a bullet went straight through her brain but she survived battling now for her life. at the white house, around the country there is shock, grief and anger. and this morning we are live with the latest on the victims, stories of survival and heroism and the gunman. why did he do it? did he act alone? how will america respond?
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and good morning, america. i'm here at the university medical center in front of what has become an all-too-familiar site in america, a makeshift memorial for the victims of yesterday's shootings, 19 people shot, 13 wounded, 6 dead. of course, one of the wounded, congresswoman gabrielle giffords. she is in critical condition after this assassination attempt. as we said, the bullet went straight through her brain, but doctors believe they are optimistic about her recovery. and we'll talk to the eyewitnesss, a doctor who held down the gunman, helped save giffords' life, and i'm also here with my colleague, dan harris, across town at the site of the shooting, dan? >> george, good morning. that shooting took place at the shopping center which is directly behind me. the congresswoman was in the middle of what should have been
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a routine meet and greet with her constituents. but that is when the alleged gunman, the young man by the name of jared lee loughner showed up. he is 22 years old, he lives not far from the scene of the crime. there's a picture of him right there. also this morning police say they are looking for a quote/unquote person of interest in this case. they've just released a picture of this man. he's between 40 and 50 years old, a white man, and police say if you've seen this person, you should call either the tucson police or the fbi. and coming up, george, we're going to have a lot more on the alleged shooter in this case. as we said, his name is jared lee loughner. >> that's right. we're going to look deeply into the investigation. also more on the victims. here in arizona last night there was a vigil for the six people who did lose their lives, including a federal judge, a member of congresswoman giffords' staff and a 9-year-old girl, christine green. she had just been elected to the student council and came to meet her congresswoman yesterday and, bianna, gabrielle giffords was a popular member of congress. they called her gabby, and she was described by her friends as
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passionate about so many things. >> that's right, george, and she has friends on both sides of the aisle. all are shocked by the tragedy. we'll hear from some of those who know her best, the only member of congress whose spouse is an active military. her husband mark kelly is an astronaut and is scheduled to go on his next and last shuttle mission into space. together they are described as one of the most popular couples in washington. >> that's right, bianna. president obama yesterday called her a warm and caring friend. let's review what we know right now. as we said, 6 people killed, and 13 people were wounded in the shooting. giffords is in very critical condition. the 22-year-old shooter is in custody. the suspected gunman, jared loughner, was described by police as mentally unstable, and as dan harris reported, they are not convinced that he acted alone. on capitol hill in washington, the house has postponed all legislative action including a vote on health care that was supposed to happen next week, and that's been postponed in the wake of the shooting. we're going to hear from other members of congress today. we heard from president obama yesterday. he sent the director of the fbi robert mueller here to tucson to oversee the investigation after
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he condemned the attack. >> it is a tragedy for arizona and a tragedy for our entire country. what americans do at times of tragedy is to come together and support each other. >> let's get right to the investigation right now. police say the gunman targeted congresswoman giffords, that she was the target. this is the first time in 30 years a u.s. lawmaker has been the victim of an assassination attempt. giffords was just beginning her third term in congress and was starting her first working saturday here at her local safeway. that's where dan harris is and he has more on what happened next. >> george, as we said, we're here at the scene of the crime where as you mentioned representative giffords was in the middle of one of her regular congress on your corner events, a sort of meet and greet event when the alleged gunman showed up and the chaos commenced. [ sirens ] >> reporter: at approximately 10:00 a.m. outside this safeway
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in tucson, arizona, 22-year-old jared lee loughner allegedly approaches congresswoman gabrielle giffords. according to eyewitnesses loughner then opens fire shooting giffords once in the head before turning and spraying 15 to 20 rounds with a semiautomatic pistol into the crowd before being tackled by bystanders. >> i was about three feet from her. i'm just lucky enough not to be in the line of fire. i was shaken to my core. >> reporter: a total of 19 wounded including 2 of the congresswoman's staff members. 6 people were pronounced dead. among them gabe zimmerman, giffords' community outreach director who had recently been engaged to be married. the congresswoman's friend and federal judge john roll and 9-year-old christina taylor green who was recently elected to the student council at her school. representative giffords, who is 40 and started her third term in the house this past wednesday and is married to astronaut mark kelly.
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she was air-lifted to the arizona university medical center where she was immediately rushed into surgery. throughout the day there were conflicting reports about her status but at around 2:00 in the afternoon doctors emerged to announce that congresswoman giffords was alive and out of surgery. >> she is in critical condition. they've finished operating on her and i'm optimistic about recovery. >> reporter: the suspect, jared lee loughner, who neighbors describe as a loner posted a message on his myspace account shortly before the shooting entitled "good-bye friends." then it says, "dear friends, please don't be mad at me." >> he has kind of a troubled past. i can tell you that. and we're not convinced that he acted alone. >> reporter: last year representative giffords' office was vandalized after she cast her health care reform vote. she spoke to msnbc about growing tensions in the political arena. >> i mean, this is a situation where i mean people don't -- i mean they need to realize the rhetoric and firing people up and when people do that, they've got to realize there's consequences to that action. >> reporter: that's a sentiment
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this town's sheriff echoed on saturday. >> we have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry. >> reporter: the fact is we don't know yet and we may never know what drove this young man or allegedly drove this young man to the edge. was it the vitriolic voices in the media, or was it the voices in his own head? but either way, george, this case, as you know well, is sparking up big debate about anger in american politics this morning. >> that's right and whether it contributes to the violence. of course, we have seen politicians from every party come out and condemn this killing. one of the strongest statements came from the senior senator here, senator john mccain. late last evening. we're joined by two of the eyewitnesses to the shooting, ken penner and dr. rayle. thanks for being here. and, dr. rayle, you were actually right behind -- you were in line getting ready to see the congresswoman. >> actually there was actually no line. it was so informal there was a very sort of loose informal crowd, maybe 25 people and i
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passed by the table and moved toward the side of the table. when i looked up, he was shooting congresswoman giffords. >> and you saw the bullet go right through her head. >> i did see that happen. >> and tell us what happened next. >> he didn't stop shooting. he just continued shooting rapidly, and it was close quarters, so people had nowhere to really get away from. >> and you just hit the ground. >> i ducked behind a concrete pillar that was there as he continued shooting and moving around that. i went to the ground and, you know, pretended to be shot so he wouldn't -- i wouldn't be a target. >> and then when you looked up, two others had wrestled him to the ground, and you moved over towards them as they -- and held his feet? >> correct. that's not exactly the next thing that happened, but i did go back over there and hold his feet. >> well, what did i miss? what happened next? >> i had actually -- i had my two dogs with me and i delivered them to my friend who was behind me and then came back and
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checked on some of the people. and then subsequently i helped hold him down because there was only a couple people holding him down. >> what was he saying? what was he doing as you held him down? >> you know, george, he didn't really say anything. he -- except maybe like, ow, you're hurting my arm kind of thing. he was definitely tense and struggling. >> tense and struggling but not saying all that much. did he seem agitated? >> before the shooting you mean or -- >> did you see him before the shooting? >> i did not. he didn't seem agitated. he seemed determined and just let loose with a barrage of bullets. >> and, ken, you were actually in the safeway when you first heard the shot. >> correct. i had just gotten into the safeway at that point. i had just made it past one of solid walls on the other side of the shopping carts when i started to hear the bullets. >> and then what did you do? >> from there i hadn't really
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realized what was happening at that point so i continued to walk toward the back of the store. that's when i realized people were running toward the back. the shutters were coming down on the pharmacy and people were running. so i don't know why but i turned around and started walking toward the front and then i saw that everyone was on the ground. there were bullet holes through the glass. there was blood on the floor. they were bringing people in that had been shot, just to kind of get them out of the way. they were running to the back to grab the butchers' robes to bring and put over the people laying on the ground. >> and, doctor, you said there were several wounded. i know you went and helped take a look at some of the wounded. >> correct. i did and i looked at congresswoman giffords. she was conscious. she was -- i don't think -- >> saying anything? >> no, i don't think so. whenever her staffers had a coat held to her face and i could see that there was -- i didn't see the bullet exit wound but i saw the entrance wound on her forehead. >> you said it took some time for the emergency medical teams
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to arrive. >> i think -- what i'm told is that the sheriffs had to clear the area, make sure it was safe before they were allowed on. but it did take some time. you know, again, time seems to take on a different perspective when you're in that situation. it may have seemed longer than it was, but it was quite a -- it seemed like quite a while before ems got there. >> just a horrific event. okay, dr. rayle, ken penner, thank you very much. dan? >> george, we want to drill down now and tell you more about what we're learning about the alleged shooter, jared lee loughner. as we said, he's 22 years old. some serious clues are starting to emerge from his online ramblings, which include some anti-government sentiments and some sentiments that are, frankly, incomprehensible. our senior justice correspondent pierre thomas has been looking into all this. pierre, good morning to you in washington. >> reporter: dan, in a scene that i can't recall in more than a decade of covering the fbi, the director himself is in
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arizona overseeing an investigation and focused on a young man who apparently descended into madness and there's concern that an accomplice may still be on the loose. by all accounts, 22-year-old jared lee loughner was a troubled young man. what authorities believe is loughner's myspace page suggests he had been preparing for a murderous rampage. a few hours before the shootings he allegedly wrote a message entitled "good-bye, friends." it begins "dear friends, please don't be mad at me." eyewitnesses say loughner was coldly detached as he shot the congresswoman and victim after victim. he appears to have been obsessed with violence and was apparently angry at the government. look at this youtube postings. it's one of his favorites. let the bodies hit the floor. ♪ let the bodies hit the floor >> reporter: loughner also left his final thoughts in a youtube video with red and white text set against a black background. he resists being called a terrorist and says he's in deep need of sleep.
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he also lists his favorite books including "mein kempf," "the communist manifesto" and "one flew over the cuckoo's nest." former high school classmates said loughner never fit in. >> kind of a lonely kid, off to himself. >> more of an outcast. >> reporter: he tried to enlist in the military but sources say he was rejected. after a series of failures, he became known to police. >> there had been law enforcement contacts with the individual where he made threats. >> reporter: overnight police released this picture of a man they are calling a person of interest and as the hunt for a potential accomplice continues a massive effort is under way to dissect loughner's life and the task force includes not only the fbi but local and state police and a cadre of other federal agencies. dan, until that other suspect is located, police say they can't be comfortable that the shooting has stopped. >> but even though they're
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looking for another suspect, they're still saying that loughner fits the profile of a lone wolf. is that right? >> reporter: you know, dan, while we don't yet know if he had an accomplice he seems to fit the profile of something the fbi is worried about, the domestic homegrown lone wolf terrorist. angry at the government for a variety of reasons and willing to kill. just last year a man flew a plane into an irs building and left internet messages that contained anti-government and incoherent rants. >> right, that was joe stack. that is a huge concern for federal officials right now. our senior justice correspondent pierre thomas, thank you for your reporting this morning. i want to turn to a man, a close friend of congresswoman giffords and her husband, the astronaut mark kelly. his name is tilman fertitta, he is a ceo of landry's restaurant which is based out of houston. tilman fertitta joins us now from houston. i want to say good morning to you and thank you very much for joining us on what i know is a difficult morning. >> it is. you know, glad to be here, glad to help you guys out this morning. >> now, i understand you played
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a pivotal role yesterday in getting commander kelly from houston here to tucson to be with his wife, and that involved your private plane. can you tell us how that played out? >> you know, it was kind of interesting. i was at a son's basketball game and mark called about 11:45, and i just saw it was mark and didn't answer it because i said i'll get back to him later but then i immediately got an e-mail from him that said gabby had been shot. so, you know, i think mark being a smart guy, you know, the first thing that went to his mind and he got a call, i'm telling you, seconds after it happened from one of the staffers. and so mark called me and said, tilman, i got to get to tucson and, of course, i called my pilots, and they took off within about 45 minutes to an hour. but what was interesting about this whole thing is that i had been -- as soon as that happened i called friends i knew at different stations and nobody knew anything about it for 30 to 45 minutes and i even questioned that it was a hoax at first because it took so long for it
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to hit the networks, but so then mark -- >> of course, the media -- >> so mark got there. >> of course, the media did pick it up quite quickly, and there were some erroneous reports that mark's wife had, in fact, died and i understand he heard those reports and you were in touch with him while he was dealing with all of this. what did he say to you about that? >> well, what happened originally is right before mark got on the plane, he called me and said, gabby's stable, and they've talked to her, and they're doing a c.a.t. scan right now, so he got on the plane, and then all of a sudden about the time he's over san antonio, that's when the reports starting coming, you know, gabby has been confirmed dead by a couple of the networks, and so i called mark on the plane real quick on the satellite phone and he was a basket case, and so what we did is the pilots hooked him up on another line with the mother-in-law and the hospital and we -- they confirmed to him, no, she is still alive, and i
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called friends at different stations again here in houston who got it out to some of y'all that gabby is in surgery, but she's definitely alive. so we're just trying to keep the facts straight during the morning and the afternoon. >> i can't imagine what that must feel like to hear something like that about your wife. since we have you here, i'd love to get you to tell us what they're like as a couple. i understand they met not long ago in 2003 while they were both on a trip to china and they have sort of a long distance relationship because he's based in houston. she's based in arizona. what more can you tell us about how they operate with this long distance relationship? >> well, it is hard, and they meet up different places every time they can. a couple of weeks ago, we met at the golden nugget in vegas and saw clint, and it was great, and you know, it's funny. gabby goes and talks to the band when we're meeting, you know, the star and everybody else is talking to the star. i mean, gabby is always talking to everybody, and that's what
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makes her so special. it's hard for him. mark spent thursday night in washington, and then he was back here, but gabby always wants to get home to her own district to meet with her people, and i used to always say, gabby, come to houston or let's go somewhere, i can't, i've got to go home, i've got to go home. gabby -- i know a lot of politicians, i've done a lot of political events, and there's no harder working congressperson, senate, anybody, than gab giffords. i mean she is unbelievable. >> and they have been called the coolest and most popular couple on capitol hill. tilman fertitta, a close family friend, again, i want to thank you for joining us this morning. we really appreciate you coming on. >> thank you very much. >> all right. have a great day. let's toss it back now to my colleague bianna in new york. >> that's right. dan, well, we do want to turn our attention to other news this morning, specifically weather. much of the south is bracing for a big winter blast. ten states from texas to the carolinas are under winter storm
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watches and warnings with some places expecting as much as 7 inches of snow. yunji de nies is in atlanta on storm watch this morning. good morning, yunji. >> reporter: good morning, bianna. it is very cold here right now. we are expecting the worst of it to come tonight. >> heave snowfall and a lot of ice throughout the southeast. this massive storm could paralyze the roads by monday. here in the atlanta area, we're expecting 4-6 inches of snow. that would be historic. we haven't seen those levels since 1940. across the south people are starting to stock up on food, heaters, generators, everything they need because they're expecting to have to hunker down the next few days. the department of transportation in georgia is asking people to stay off the roads on monday morning. if you can telecommute, they're asking you to stay home. we're expecting plenty of delays at the airport. hartfield-jackson is one of the busiest airports in the country. if you've got a connecting flight, the airlines are warning there will be delays. bianna? >> all right, yunji, thank you
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for that. and for the rest of the day's weather across the country, let's go to jackie meretsky. good morning, jackie. >> very good morning to you, bianna, and all of the ingredients are in place to produce a tremendous snow and ice event across the south. look at all of this moisture bubbling up over texas. the real villain in the storm system, it's not the moisture, it's the cold air. you put those ingredients together and this is what we're looking at. a significant snow and ice event. taking a look at the ice, you know, it only takes half an inch of ice to bring down power lines and that could bring down trees. jackson, you could be looking at half an inch of ice, atlanta, you're going to get snow, 2 to 4 inches of it. that will change over to ice once we get into the morning hours. more on that coming up. that's a look at your national weather.
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>> bianna, back to you. >> all right, jackie, thank you. and coming up on "good morning america," more with george and dan in tucson on the shooting and the people who lost their lives. depression is a serious medical condition. i feel like i have to wind myself up to deal with the sadness, the loss of interest,
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where do you want me? wher >> here in tucson, vigils for the victims of the horrific shooting yesterday. also on capitol hill, remembering gabrielle giffords, member of congress. she is battling for her life here at the university medical center in tucson, arizona. good morning, america. i am george stephanopoulos here at the university medical center. i'm joined by my colleague dan harris at the safeway where the shooting took place yesterday afternoon. of course, bianna golodryga in new york. so much to get to this morning. as we said, 6 killed in yesterday's shooting. 13 wounded including congresswoman gabrielle giffords. the bullet went right through her head but doctors after surgery are optimistic that she will survive. she's fighting for her life right here at the university medical center.
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the suspect, 22-year-old jared loughner, is in custody. police say they're also looking for another person of interest. they believe that loughner targeted giffords directly, shot her right through the head. she is in critical condition this morning. we're going to have the latest on the investigation this morning. also the latest on that person of interest. we're also going to go back to bianna golodryga in new york. she's with dr. richard besser who is going to take a look at this whole question of how someone could survive a point blank shot to the head. we'll also have much more on congresswoman giffords' family, how she is coping and how her husband is coping, the husband, the astronaut who rushed to her side. but let's begin with more on the six victims of the shooting. the six killed in the shooting. dan harris has the latest on that. >> george, quite rightly there's been a lot of focus on congresswoman giffords, but there were, as you mentioned, six people who did not make it. among them, one of the congresswoman's aides, a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl.
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for judge john roll, who was 63 years old, it was just a typical saturday. he attended church and was heading home to help with some chores. he made a stop at safeway to do some shopping and visit with his friend, representative giffords, and that's when he got caught in the cross hairs. >> one of the finest human beings i've ever met in my life. >> reporter: a husband, father and grandfather, judge roll was appointed to the federal bench in 1991 before being named arizona's chief federal judge in 2006. a respected jurist, roll was known for his leadership, and he called for more judges on the bench to handle the state's overwhelming number of border-related crime cases. >> i've never met a more sincere, fair-minded, brilliant federal judge or any judge for that matter in my whole life. >> reporter: three of the congresswoman's staffers were also shot. ron barber and pamela simon survived, but 30-year-old gabe zimmerman who had recently been
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engaged to be married died at the scene. the youngest was just 9 years old, christina taylor green was interested in the political process and she wanted to meet the congresswoman. she too was gunned down and later died at the hospital. her family describes the grade schooler who recently received her first holy communion and had just been elected to her student council as the best daughter in the world. that's an awful story. by the way, christina taylor green happened to have been born on september 11th, 2001, and, in fact, she was 1 of 50 children born on that day featured in a book called "faces of hope," and, george, while she will remain one of the faces of hope she will also now be sadly one of the faces of what was a senseless disaster here in tucson, arizona. >> oh, my goodness. you know, tied to two of the tragedies of this decade. also, as her father has said, she was such an amazing little
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girl, loved politics and wanted to get involved. gabrielle giffords, of course, she was first elected to congress 2006. a year later she got married and hers is one of the most unusual commuter marriages in the country. one of the more unusual marriages in washington, in fact, it is unique. she is the only member of congress married to an astronaut. david kerley has more on that for us. >> hi, gabby. >> reporter: gabrielle giffords does a lot of outreach in her tucson district usually without her husband. that's because he's in training in houston. >> the ods hatch -- >> reporter: mark kelly is an astronaut slated to be the commander of the last space shuttle flight now set for april. >> you can tell how much they love each other, how hard they work to make that relationship work as they both have many, many responsibilities. they meet them and still manage to stay together as a very, very happy couple. >> reporter: gabby, as her friends call her, is just 40 already a decade in politics and met the navy jet pilot turned astronaut back in 2007.
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they married and have made plenty of friends. >> she always teases me that, you know, that she's her husband's second favorite member of congress and i'm his first favorite member of congress but we have a great friendship and i have great admiration for gabby. >> reporter: mark kelly flew from houston to be with his wife just after the shooting. i met with him last year when i interviewed him and his twin brother scott, who is in space this morning commanding the space station. they thought at the time they would be the first blood relatives in space together when mark pilots the shuttle to the station this year. >> he asked me earlier, you know, underwear runs pretty well in the space station, so he said don't use all your underwear. and just let me -- when you undock let me keep some of it. >> reporter: i asked the congresswoman's husband if he ever thought of shaving off his mustache and trading places with his brother and fellow astronaut.
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>> we've been asked to do that since we were like 3 years old and we've always said, we're not doing that. >> have you ever done it? >> never, not once. >> reporter: this morning a brother-in-law in space, a colleague in washington are all thinking about gabby giffords. >> i just, you know, have had one thought all day long and that is, i hope she's okay, and that's what i've thought about. >> reporter: aren't we all? for "good morning america," david kerley, abc news. and joining us now is one of the bridesmaids at gabby and mark's wedding, elaine richardson. she served in the arizona state legislature with the congresswoman and also tucson mayor bob walkup, friend of the couple. i know you spoke with mark late last night, early this morning. >> early this morning, and he had just arrived, and he had been in gabby's room, was with her. she was sedated, and we just talked about our relationships, which goes back from their wedding with mark, but my
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relationship with gabby goes back many, many years, and we just talked about who she is and recovery, guarded optimism about her recovery and getting her back, getting her back into her job as representing the people. >> what more could he tell you about her condition right now? >> right now i don't know her condition. one of the things i will do from here is go into the hospital, make sure that all of the people are on recovery because it's a great tragedy, and my understanding is that she is resting and guardedly optimistic about the outcome, and we pray for her. there was a vigil. i was with these people last night, as a matter of fact. they were all praying for her, her recovery. >> and, elaine, i met the congresswoman a few times, and she was one of the most perpetually upbeat people you ever want to see -- she is one of the most perpetually upbeat
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people you ever want to meet. >> she is upbeat. she's passionate. she is loyal. she's fearless. that's one of the biggest things about gabby. >> rides motorcycles. roller skates to your house at midnight. >> i can't tell you how many times she's been riding -- rolling up to my house at midnight, we sit on the porch. it would be summer. we'd be talking and i'd say, i'm driving you home. she's like, no, i'm fine. i'm driving you home, it's midnight. >> she said that's okay. gabby thought everybody was as pure as she was. gabby would never think that this would happen to her because she was fearless like her mother. her mother is fearless. >> she was kind of open about what it was like to be a single member of congress and then her life changes when she meets mark. >> yeah, she met mark, and gabby was so happy. so much in love. i was so honored to be part of that wedding. it was a wonderful wedding and most importantly we had a good time. she had a good time. you know, gabby had a borrowed dress on.
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that's gabby. >> she borrowed a wedding dress. >> she borrowed a wedding dress from her friend susie's daughter. but that's gabby. those aren't the things that were important. mark was important. her friends were important. people were important. and that's the way she -- that's just the way she lived her life. >> well, we are all pulling for her and so glad to hear they're guardedly optimistic right now. thank you both for joining us. let's go back to ron claiborne with the rest of the news. >> all right. thanks very much, george. good morning, everyone. in the news residents in parts of the south and southeast are bracing for yet another major winter storm by tomorrow. a swath from memphis, tennessee to atlanta and also all the way to north carolina could be under as much as half a foot of snow and ice. an american woman reportedly arrested in iran for espionage is now in turkey. the state department says american officials have been in touch with 34-year-old hal talaian and have confirmed that she is safe in istanbul and an iranian official claimed that she was detained last week while filming an iranian border crossing.
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a cruise ship returned to the port in tampa, florida, after 150 passengers and crew members were sickened and it's been cleared now to depart on another voyage. the royal caribbean "radiance of the seas" was at sea when people on board starting developing what was apparently a stomach flu. after the ship returned, it was sanitized and left on another cruise last night. finally in pro football what a difference a year makes, the two teams that were in last year's super bowl were knocked out. the seahawks, the team with the worst record in the playoffs ousted the defending champ new orleans saints by a score of 41-36 and in another upset, the new york jets beat the indianapolis colts 17-16 for the game-winning field goal as time expired. time for the weather and jackie meretsky. >> thanks very much, ron. let's take a look quick look at this extraordinary snow and ice event that's developing across the south. watch this low track across the gulf coast, plenty of cold air in place and the result is going to be a significant snow and ice event from texas all the way into the carolinas. some of the heaviest snow will
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fall in texarkana. up to a foot is expected. >> this weather was brought to you by las vegas. bianna, back to you. >> all right, jackie. thank you. and coming up on "good morning america," more on the tragedy in tucson and how the congresswoman managed to survive being shot at point blank range. our dr. richard besser joins us live. ooo whatcha got there?
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that rang out at a grocery store in tucson shocked the country. as we've been reporting, six people lost their lives. but congresswoman gabrielle giffords who was shot at point blank range in the head was not one of them, and our senior health and medical editor, dr. richard besser is here to explain just how she survived. good morning. thanks for joining us. not much is known about her current condition right now as we heard from the mayor, mayor walkup there. gravely optimistic. she's believed to be sedated.
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but the big question s. how did you survive such a heinous attack? >> you know, she's already beat a lot of odds. two-thirds of people who are shot in the head never make it to the hospital. 90% of people who are shot in the head don't survive but making it to the hospital, that's already a good sign. in talking to neurosurgeons about this, there are a couple of critical factors. one is where did the bullet go in and where did it come out? the fact that the bullet didn't stay in her head and went right through, that's a good sign. bullets that stay in the head cause a lot more damage. what we heard, it went in at her temple and came out her forehead. by doing that it avoids a lot of critical structures that are located in the deep part of the brain or if it had gone from side to side, so those are all good factors. >> what we do know when she was rushed to the emergency room, she was able to obey doctor's commands. >> yes. >> what are the kinds of questions they would ask her, and what specifically are they looking for as far as her responses? >> one of the first things you're taught even as a medical student is the glasgow coma
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scale and it's a way to rate someone who is not fully aware. what you look at is are they opening and closing their eyes? are they speaking and can they follow commands, and people who rate highly so they can speak, they can open their eyes and they're following commands do better long term, so they'll follow that over the entire course of her hospitalization but it's a very good sign. >> and with regards to these type of brain injuries, you mentioned the rule of twos. what is that? >> well, rule of twos. two days, two weeks, two months. first two days looking at brain swelling, blood clots in her head, seizures, controlling those, two weeks, all the things that can happen in the hospital in terms of infections and those sorts of things, and then over two months seeing what deficits she has, what will the long-term problems be. >> all right, dr. besser, we appreciate you joining us this morning. and we'll be right back. it's pain relief without the pills.
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christiane amanpour is going to have a lot more on the tragedy in a special edition of "this week." she's right here with me. we're still learning so much about what happened yesterday about the shooter, jared loughner. he had these youtube videos that seemed to be all over the net. already the debate over whether the political, the media climate, the climate filled with anger in some way contributed to this tragedy yesterday. you saw the sheriff who laid blame squarely on the political debate. >> he did. obviously it's so early we cannot draw any kind of conclusions. the suspect is in custody. he's taking his fifth amendment rights. he's not talking and they're still looking for an accomplice so there is no motive known right now, but certainly not only the sheriff here but even people as prominent as cindy mccain, the wife of senator john mccain, yesterday said publicly that the tenor of the conversation needs to be changed
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and she made a tweet already today, as well, saying how many more people have to be heard or killed before we say no to hate. so without drawing any conclusions, there's clearly a gathering tide of people who feel that the conversation at least needs to get more civil. >> and a lot of people wondering whether this will be the moment that begins to turn that around. it was interesting already. the republican leaders in the congress decided to postpone the debate on the repeal of health care next week to give everyone a chance to cool down a little bit and to remember the victims of this tragedy. >> that's precisely right, and as you know, congresswoman giffords became a target after her vote for health care and this state, particularly when it comes to the health care debate, when it comes to immigration, has really reached a fever pitch in the whole debate, so there is a sense that there needs to be a bit of a calming down. of that kind of rhetoric. >> that's right. in fact, the sheriff said yesterday that arizona has become a mecca of bigotry and intolerance. thanks, christiane. we'll see you a little bit on
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that is all from us from tucson. this morning here on "gma" i want to thank dan harris and bianna golodryga. in new york. stay with abc all day long for the latest, a special edition of "this week" with christiane amanpour. "world news" sunday and, of course, "gma" tomorrow and a special edition of facebook at 11:00 a.m. tune in for that as well.
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