Press conference: Surgeons ‘optimistic’ about Giffords’ recovery, shooter used pistol to shoot 18

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A surgeon of the Arizona hospital where Gabrielle Giffords is being treated said in a press conferece Saturday that he’s “about as optimistic as it can get in this situation” for Giffords’ recovery. She was out of surgery at the time of the press conference, and was “responding to commands,” according to Peter Rhee of the University Medical Center of Tucson.

The hospital reported that they had 10 patients from the shooting. A 9-year-old girl died in the shooting, Rhee said, to gasps in the room of reporters. Five of the patients are in critical condition and in surgery. Giffords, Rhee said, was shot once in the head, “through and through…on one side of her head and it went through her brain.”

Mayor Bob Walkup of Tucson called the incident a “tragedy…for our community and our country,” and urged media to be careful with the facts in a fluid news situation.

“Those that are fighting for their lives, this is really the time for us to say our prayers,” Walkup said.

Rich Kastigar, of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, said the suspect, 22-year-old Jared Laughner, had had run-ins with law enforcement, but mostly minor incidents. He used a pistol with an extended magazine, Kastigar said, injuring 18 people. Kastigar said that did not necessarily mean he shot 18 rounds.

There were early reports that the shooter said something as he shot, but Kastigar said he was unaware “not aware whether there was any comment from the shooter.”

The Tucson chief of police said his department had “secured the offices and residences of Congresswoman Giffords as well as other Congresspeople,” as a precaution. There was no specific threat on any other elected officials, he said.