US President Barack Obama speaks at memorial for Arizona shooting victims

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Candlelit vigil in Union Square on Tuesday, January 11, 2011 for the victims of the Tucson shooting.
Image: Jens Schott Knudsen.

United States President Barack Obama spoke at a memorial in Tucson, Arizona Wednesday night, in the wake of last Saturday's mass shooting. Earlier in the day, Obama visited five people injured in the attack, including Gabrielle Giffords, a Democratic Congresswoman from Arizona.

Obama spoke to almost 14,000 people in the University of Arizona's McKale Center, as well as 13,000 others outside. During a 33-minute-long speech, he attempted to begin the "healing process," urging the nation "to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds." He recognized the victims of the incident as well as those who helped the wounded immediately after the shooting.

Jared Lee Loughner, aged 22, is accused of opening fire on a "Congress on Your Corner" event on January 8, killing six people and injuring thirteen others. The incident has sparked a fiery political debate on whether intense political campaigns could incite violence.

During his speech, Obama said of Giffords' condition, "Gabby opened her eyes so I can tell you know she knows we are here, she knows that we love her and she knows that we are rooting for her through what will undoubtedly be a difficult journey." Peter Rhee, a trauma surgeon at Tuscon's University Medical Center, said Giffords is making progress and is able to move more.