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Bell rung at Jan. 8 remembrance

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Bell rung at Jan. 8 remembrance

  • Mayor Rothschild rang the bell at TFD headquarters Wednesday to mark the anniversary of the Jan. 8 attack.
    Luke Knipe/City of TucsonMayor Rothschild rang the bell at TFD headquarters Wednesday to mark the anniversary of the Jan. 8 attack.
  • Gabrielle Giffords went skydiving on Wednesday. Giffords went skydiving on Wednesday.

Three years ago, gunfire broke the calm of a bright winter morning in Tucson. Six people were killed and 13 others wounded, many grievously. Many more witnesses were traumatized by the attack, families of the victims were devastated, and not a person in our small city was unaffected.

Wednesday morning was as sunny as that Saturday three years ago, but more quiet. About 100 people gathered on the lawn at the University of Arizona Medical Center — where many shooting victims were taken on Jan. 8, 2011 — to remember the attack.

The crowd included many of those who were at the Safeway store on North Oracle Road three years ago; those who were shot traded tight hugs and greetings with family members and hospital staffers.

After a prayer from the UAMC chaplain, a small brass bell — donated to the hospital by shooting victim Jim Tucker — broke the quiet. The bell was rung 19 times, once for each person who was shot in the assassination attempt on former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Tucker said he wants the start a tradition of ringing the bell at the hospital in recognition of the shooting.

"I ran across this bell, and thought it would be just right," he said, apologizing for a catch in his throat that he attributed to bullet fragments in his neck.

Downtown, Mayor Jonathan Rothschild tolled the heavy bell in the tower of the headquarters of the Tucson Fire Department, as he did last year on the second anniversary of the attack.

Rather than participate in any public memorials, Giffords chose to celebrate her struggle recovering from a shot to the head by skydiving.

"Today, I grieve, I remember, and I take another step. I'm stronger now. I'm winning back movement in my right arm. So I have the opportunity to do something I love: skydiving with my friend, former Navy SEAL Jimmy Hatch," she said in a post on Facebook. "Southern Arizona will look beautiful, peaceful from the top of the sky."

Giffords' husband, Mark Kelly, tweeted a photo of the former congresswoman about to land. "Gabby landed beautifully. Happy she's safe. So proud of her bravery," he wrote. Giffords' Twitter feed featured a photo of her suiting up for the parachute jump.

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