U.S. Congresswoman, Wife of Astronaut, Shot

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U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat and the wife of NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, was shot through the head at a small political gathering in a Tucson, Ariz., grocery story on Saturday. She is in critical condition after undergoing surgery and a doctor said in a news conference Saturday afternoon that he is optimistic she will recover.

Among 11 people taken to University Medical Centre in Tucson after the shooting at a Safeway market, one — a child — has died, Peter Rhee, a surgeon, told reporters. Five people, including Giffords, are in critical condition and five others are undergoing surgery. Police report an additional six fatalities.

The surgeon said Giffords, 40, was shot “through and through” the head, and had undergone surgery. “I am very optimistic about her,” Rhee said.

A NASA spokeswoman said Giffords’ husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, who is scheduled to lead an April shuttle flight, is on personal leave.

Kelly’s identical twin brother, Scott Kelly, also an astronaut, currently is serving aboard the space station as the commander. A NASA spokesman said Scott Kelly has been informed of the shooting.

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden put out the following statement:

 ’We at NASA are deeply shocked and saddened by the senseless shooting of Representative Giffords and others at Saturday’s public event in Tucson. As a long-time supporter of NASA, Representative Giffords not only has made lasting contributions to our country, but is a strong advocate for the nation’s space program and a member of the NASA family. She also is a personal friend with whom I have had the great honor of working. We at NASA mourn this tragedy and our thoughts and prayers go out to Congresswoman Giffords, her husband Mark Kelly, their family, and the families and friends of all who perished or were injured in this terrible tragedy.”

(Image: Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, husband astronaut Mark Kelly. Credit: GiffordsforCongress.com)