Illinois politicians are expressing sympathy and prayers for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona who was shot in the head Saturday when an assailant opened fire outside a grocery store during a meeting with constituents. At least five people were killed and several others injured in the rampage. (View updated MSNBC story)
Doctors are optimistic about her recovery.
From his Chicago home, Rep. Luis Gutierrez called the shooting "heartbreaking," and said he always used to tease her as a young, newly married person whose husband is a NASA pilot.
"I used to mess with her and say, hey, how's the astronaut?" Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez whose views on immigration do not match Giffords more conservative views on immigration reform nonetheless praised her highly as a "wonderful" person who "did not deserve this."
Sen. Mark Kirk: "This shooting was a senseless attack on a Congresswoman I know well, Gabby Giffords. She is a fellow alumni of Cornell University, married a Navy astronaut and inherited my Longworth Building House office after I left for the Senate. We worked together on US-China relations as part of the U.S.-China Working Group and she is a thoughtful, effective legislator who I enjoy working with in Congress. We take this attack on the Congresswoman very seriously and will work with Capitol Police federal law enforcement to contemplate security measures which ensure that decisions made by Americans through elections cannot be changed or threatened by violence. I commend the heroes who tackled the gunman and pray for the victims and loved ones suffering as a result of this despicable act."
Mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel
"What occurred today in Arizona is a senseless and horrific tragedy. Gabby is a friend, a former colleague, and a respected public servant who was doing what she loved most: meeting her constituents. She will be in Amy and my thoughts and prayers as she fights for her life, as will all of the victims."
Rep. Peter Roskam
"Today's attack against Rep. Giffords, members of her staff, and citizens interacting with their representative in the Tucson area, is horrifying and devastating, and I condemn it in the strongest of terms. Attacks of this kind, in our democratic society, simply cannot stand. My thoughts and prayers are with all those injured and their families in this senseless attack."
Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.
"I am deeply, deeply saddened by today's shocking and horrific attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, her staff and attendees at her public event. Rep. Giffords is a bright, engaging member of Congress, and has a tremendous future ahead of her. I saw her this past Thursday in the Democratic cloakroom, and she was as pleasant as ever. I will keep her in my thoughts and prayers, and hope to see her on Capitol Hill again soon. As President Obama, Speaker Boehner and Leader Pelosi have said, this kind of violence has no place in our society. Whether we are Democrats or Republicans, we are all Americans first. I encourage everyone to keep all of the victims of today's violence in your thoughts and prayers."
Rep. Mike Quigley described Giffords as "very, very nice" and someone who reached out to him when he arrived after a special election. He added "my staff is freaked" but said he will continue to meet with constituents.