Gabrielle Giffords Visits Tucson, Arizona, Returns Home To Houston

PHOENIX (AP/The Huffington Post) — Rep. Gabrielle Giffords returned to Houston on Sunday after spending the weekend with her family in Tucson.

The visit was the Arizona Democrat’s first trip home since was shot in the head at a January political event. Six people were killed in the attack and 12 others besides the congresswoman were wounded.

Giffords held no public events but attended private meetings with friends and relatives, according to The New York Times, and took a driving tour past her old hangouts and hiking trails.

One of the places friends said she was to pass by on her driving tour of Tucson was the Shanty, a bar near the University of Arizona that is a gathering spot for local politicians and journalists.

“Coming home was the first step in her getting her life back,” said Bill Nugent, the bar’s owner, who has a large sign out front that expresses optimism about her political future. “Giffords for U.S. Senate,” it says.

Kelly announced the visit in a news release Friday, and the couple and one of Kelly’s daughters arrived in Tucson that evening.

“We’ve been dreaming of this trip for some time,” Kelly said in a statement. “Gabby misses Tucson very much and her doctors have said that returning to her hometown could play an important role in her recovery.”

Carusone and Giffords spokesman C.J. Karamargin did not immediately respond to calls from The Associated Press on Sunday.

Giffords was released from a Houston hospital Wednesday and is set to start outpatient therapy. She had been in the rehab facility since late January, a few weeks after the shooting.

Giffords is now living in Kelly’s home in League City, a town 26 miles south of Houston. She will continue outpatient therapy at TIRR Memorial Hermann, the same hospital where she underwent rehabilitation.

Giffords has been struggling to relearn how to speak and walk, and will be assisted by a 24-hour home health provider, according to a statement from the hospital.

Her alleged assailant, Jared Loughner, has pleaded not guilty to 49 charges stemming from the Jan. 8 shooting. He has been at a Missouri prison facility since a judge declared him mentally incompetent to stand trial May 28. Mental health experts will try to make him psychologically fit.

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