Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords shot during public event in Tucson

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Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 17 others were shot Saturday when a gunman opened fire on a public event at a Tucson, Ariz. grocery store. Several national news outlets confirmed Giffords’ death shortly after the shooting but local news station KOLD subsequently reported that she is in surgery.

Hospital spokesperson Darci Slaten told KOLD confirmed she is in surgery in critical condition.

“She is alive and in surgery right now,” Slaten told the news station.

NPR and the Tucson Citizen reported Giffords was shot in the head before the gunman was tackled by bystanders.

The gunman is in custody.

Giffords was hosting a “Congress on Your Corner” event at a Safeway when the shooting happened. She was first elected to Congress, representing the 8th Congressional District, in 2006, and had just been sworn in for her third term Wednesday.

Two hours before the shooting, Giffords tweeted about the event: “My 1st Congress on Your Corner starts now. Please stop by to let me know what is on your mind or tweet me later.”

Update – 2:51 pm: Fox is now reporting that Giffords is alive, but in critical condition.

Update – 3:00 pm: AP reports “Congressional officials: Aide to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has died in Arizona attack”

Update – 3:07 pm: There will be a news conference at University Medical Center, where Giffords is being treated, at 3:30 EST.

Update – 3:57 pm: A federal judge, John Roll, is reported to be among the wounded.

Update – 3:38 pm:
The shooter has been identified, according to AP, as 22-year-old Jared Loughner. Sheriff Rich Kastigar of Tucson said in a press conference the suspect had had run-ins with law enforcement in the past, but very minor incidents.

Update – 4:03 The chief trauma surgeon at University Medical Center, speaking in a press conference confirms Giffords is alive. “At the current time, I am very optimistic about her recovery, ” he said. “I’m about as optimistic [for a recovery] as I can get in this situation.”