Mother: Giffords to be moved to rehab center Friday
Tucson, Arizona (CNN) -- Rep. Gabrielle Giffords -- who will be moved to a rehabilitation center in Texas later this week, according to her parents -- had worries about her safety long before she was critically wounded by a gunman at a public event, her husband said.
"We've discussed it a number of times," Mark Kelly told CNN affiliate KVOA in an interview Tuesday. "She felt that, that was a possibility, pretty much exactly what had happened ... there have been threats against her and other members of Congress."
Giffords was hosting a constituents' meeting outside a supermarket in Tucson when a gunman opened fire. Six people, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl, were killed and 13 others wounded. A 22-year-old suspect, Jared Lee Loughner, is facing federal charges.
Giffords was shot in the head. In an e-mail sent to friends and family members Tuesday and obtained by CNN, Giffords' mother, Gloria, writes that she will be moved from Tucson's University Medical Center to rehabilitation facilities in Houston, Texas, on Friday.
"There is a team of medical specialists involved ... including military surgeons who specialize in bullet wounds to the head," the e-mail says. "They want to start aggressive rehab immediately."
University Medical Center spokeswoman Darci Slaten would not confirm that Giffords will be moved Friday.
Loughner is next set to appear in court on Monday in Phoenix. Richard Kastigar, chief investigator for the Pima County Sheriff's Department, said Wednesday authorities believe he showed his gun to a friend before the shooting "between Christmas and New Year's." After the shooting, the friend told his father about the exchange, and the father contacted police, he said. He would not name the friend.
Police have said Loughner bought the gun in November after passing a background check, and bought ammunition at a Walmart near his home hours before the shooting. Seven boxes of ammunition were found after the rampage in a black bag discovered in a dry river bed in Loughner's neighborhood.
In addition, authorities said Wednesday that the gunman apparently fired 32 shots, one more than previously thought. A woman found a bullet casing in her purse several days later, he said.
"A woman who was around the shooting scene that day found the casing and reported it to police," Kastigar said. "It fits right into our investigation. We always knew Loughner had one round in his chamber and 31 in the magazine."
Kastigar said he didn't know whether the woman attended the event at the Safeway, was a passerby or was coming out of the store at the time of the shooting.
Gloria Giffords writes that her daughter shows improvement every day "and shows higher levels of comprehension and complex actions.
"Yesterday, when Mark came back from speaking at her aide's memorial service, she reached up and untied his tie and undid the top button to his shirt," according to the e-mail.
"Last night, she took his iPod and scrolled through all the pictures. Early this morning she began to read cards made for her by some 4th graders! Her unbandaged eye tracked the lines, she opened the cards and turned them over reading the back. Mark's gotten pages of large print of Harry Potter's 1st book for her to hold and read."
The e-mail also says that Giffords gave her husband "a 20-minute neck and back rub."
Giffords remains in serious condition. A second, unnamed victim is listed in good condition.
Kelly told the affiliate the couple was concerned about heated and divisive political debates, but despite the fears, Giffords' passion for public service was a priority.
"She was doing what she loved, she was representing the people of southern Arizona," Kelly said. "She felt it was very important for them to have the opportunity to walk up to her and tell her what they think."
Kelly said the lawmaker will resume her public service "stronger than ever" as soon as she's well enough. He predicted she would return to the scene of the shooting.
"She loves southern Arizona more than anything," he told CNN affiliate KGUN. "She's here every week, doing stuff like 'Congress on your Corner,' and I'm sure the first thing she's gonna do, when she's ready, is a 'Congress on your Corner' at that Safeway" where the shooting occurred.
The outpouring of support has been tremendous, Kelly said, including an elementary school student who sent his $2.85 in lunch money to Giffords with a card.
"I sealed it back up, and we're gonna give it back to him," Kelly said. "It almost made me cry just standing there in the room, just to see the kid put his lunch money in the envelope for her."'
Gloria Giffords wrote in the e-mail that her daughter has hard work ahead of her. She has been moving her limbs on command, according to the e-mail, and doctors have had her sitting up in a chair.
"So now comes the 'true grit' part," she wrote, "and (it) won't be a stroll in a park although Mark predicts she'll be up and walking around in 2 weeks. The physical and emotional therapy will proceed side by side and it'll be stringent."
Giffords has not been able to speak because of a breathing tube in her throat. Her mother wrote that Giffords will continue communicating more as she becomes more alert and will speak after the tube comes out.
"You notice I'm speaking in the present tense ... because that's where all your future prayers are going to come in," she wrote.
The e-mail said Giffords' parents are "humbled by the outpouring of love and prayers and overwhelmed with gratitude." The hospital's front lawn and the perimeter of Giffords' Tucson office are "illuminated by thousands of candles, get-well placards, hers and the other victims' photos, prayers, stuffed animals and people."
Surveillance video of the January 8 shooting shows Loughner walking up to Giffords and firing at her face from 24 to 36 inches away, Kastigar, told CNN.
Kastigar said he viewed the surveillance tape the day of the incident, and the hard drives have been turned over to the FBI. He said its contents have not been previously discussed for a variety of reasons, chief among them protecting the victims' families from the graphic details it contains.
On the tape, the suspect can be clearly seen walking around a table and up to Giffords, pointing a gun at her face and pulling the trigger. Giffords is barely in the frame of the video, he said. The gunman then turns to his left and walks out of the video, where witnesses said he began firing indiscriminately at others.
U.S. District Judge John Roll can be seen on the tape putting his arms over Giffords staffer Ron Barber and attempting to push him down and crawl under the table with him, Kastigar said. In attempting to help Barber, Roll exposes his back to the gunman and is shot. Roll died; Barber was also shot, but survived.
"I have to detach my personal feelings" about the tape as an investigator, but the tape offers investigators a way to sort out sometimes confusing or conflicting witness statements about what took place, he said. It also clarified that the gunman's intended target was Giffords, as it made clear that he walked up and fired the first round at her, Kastigar said.
A law enforcement official said federal and local authorities have conducted more than 300 interviews as part of the investigation.
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