NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was shot in the head Saturday by a gunman who opened fire outside a Tucson grocery store during a meeting with voters, killing a federal judge and four others.
Giffords was among at least 10 people wounded, and the hospital said her outlook was optimistic as she was responding to commands from doctors despite having a bullet go through her head.
The death toll included a 9-year-old girl, a federal judge, and a staffer for the Democratic congresswoman.
LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Terry Sheridan reports
Long Island Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy said she’s been looking over her shoulder for years, checking out the crowds at rallies and public events for anyone suspicious.
“There have been events where I have been notified, where the police were there and even took me to the event,” Rep. McCarthy said.
LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reports
However, McCarthy told WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall that it’s a part of her job as a politician.
“The Capitol Hill police and the Nassau County police, they’re on top of everything,” she said. “They certainly are looking out for us, but we can’t change our lives – what are we supposed to do as members of Congress, or any politician?
“It’s part of my job. I want to hear from the people – whether it’s anger or not, I want to hear from them,” she said.
Bronx Congressman Eliot Engel said there are far-reaching implications of the attack.
“In this country, we conduct our elections with ballots, not bullets, and I think that this was not only an attack on her, but really an attack on America,” Rep. Engel told 1010 WINS’ Terry Sheridan.
Both Reps. McCarthy and Engel were shocked that such a heinous attack would be aimed at someone they consider a friend.
“She’s a wonderful, wonderful young lady,” McCarthy said. “She has a wonderful family…She’s just a wonderful person, and there’s no reason for that.”
“I’m shocked and saddened. Gabby Giffords is one of my closest friends in Congress,” Engel said. “She is a wonderful congresswoman, and a really nice, sweet, hardworking person, and I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to harm her. It’s just such a shock.”
For Rep. McCarthy, the tragedy served as a terrible reminder of the day that her husband was killed, and her son critically injured, during a shooting on a Long Island Rail Road train in 1993.
“They said, ‘oh my God, she probably won’t make it,’ and I said, ‘wait a minute, my son made it.’ I said, ‘you can’t give up hope until we know for sure what exactly is going on,’ but certainly my prayers go to the families.”
Congresswoman McCarthy has long been one of the nation’s most vocal advocates for gun control. She said attacks like this show the importance of fighting against gun violence.
“I wish I could say it’s better, [but] the assault weapons ban has expired,” she said. “When they were banned, they were expensive for gangs, and now we are seeing them again.”