Obama Leads Moment of Silence after Shooting

January 10, 2011 - 12:37 PM

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

In this March, 2010 photo provided by the office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Giffords poses for a photo. Giffords was critically wounded during a shooting at a political event Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011 in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords)

Washington (AP) - A somber President Barack Obama led a moment of silence on Monday for a nation stunned by an attempted assassination against an Arizona congresswoman that left her seriously wounded, several other injured and six people dead.

On a frigid Washington morning, the president and first lady Michelle Obama walked out of the White House to the sounding of a bell at 11 a.m. Both wearing overcoats, they stood next to each other on the South Lawn, each with their hands clasped, heads bowed and eyes closed.

After a minute of silence, they walked inside, the president's hand on the first lady's back.

The moment was marked on the steps of the U.S. Capitol and around the nation on the direction of the president, who called for the country to come together in prayer or reflection for those killed and those fighting to recover. In total, 19 people were shot in the shooting rampage in Tuscon, Ariz. on Saturday. Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot point-blank in the head, and she remains in intensive care. Among the six people killed were Arizona's chief federal judge, a 9-year-old girl interested in government, and one of Giffords' aides. Giffords' orbiting brother-in-law, astronaut Scott Kelly, called for a moment of silence aboard the International Space Station and at all the flight control centers around the world.

"We have a unique vantage point here aboard the International Space Station. As I look out the window, I see a very beautiful planet that seems very inviting and peaceful. Unfortunately, it is not," Kelly radioed to Mission Control in Houston. "These days, we are constantly reminded of the unspeakable acts of violence and damage we can inflict upon one another, not just with our actions, but also with our irresponsible words. We're better than this. We must do better."

Kelly, the space station commander, described Giffords as "a caring and dedicated public servant."