Gay AZ Shooting Hero to Attend State of Union
An intern who cared for Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords after she was shot in the head and the family of a 9-year-old girl who was the youngest of six people killed in the same shooting will sit with first lady Michelle Obama for President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.
Giffords’ husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, however, was not expected to join them.
Kelly was invited to attend but will remain in Houston, where he is based and where Giffords is now receiving medical care, her office said Monday. She was transferred to a facility there last Friday to begin rehabilitation after being hospitalized in Tucson since the Jan. 8 shootings.
"He wants to stay in Houston to be near his wife," said Mark Kimble, Giffords’ spokesman in Tucson.
Giffords and 18 others were shot at a meet-and-greet the congresswoman was holding for constituents outside a grocery store in Tucson. A federal judge, a Giffords aide and 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green were killed. Thirteen others were wounded.
The man being held in the shootings, Jared Lee Loughner, 22, pleaded not guilty Monday to federal charges of attempting to kill Giffords and two of her aides.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday that Hernandez and Green’s family would attend Tuesday night’s speech.
Intern Daniel Hernandez was hailed as a hero after the shooting. The 20-year-old University of Arizona student rushed to her side and applied pressure to her wounds until medical personnel arrived.
When he spoke Jan. 12 at a national televised memorial service in Tucson, Hernandez pointedly shunned the hero label. But Obama, who followed him to the microphone, politely disagreed and assured Hernandez that he was, in fact, a hero.
"Daniel, I’m sorry, you may deny it, but we’ve decided you are a hero because you ran through the chaos to minister to your boss, and tended to her wounds and helped keep her alive," Obama said as the audience applauded.
Hernandez sat next to Obama during the service. Kelly also attended the memorial and sat beside Mrs. Obama.
On Tuesday night, Hernandez, the Greens and Mrs. Obama’s other guests will sit in her box overlooking the floor of the House.
Giffords’ Arizona medical team - trauma surgeons Peter Rhee and Randall Friese, neurosurgeon Michael Lemole and nurse Tracy Culbert - also planned to attend the president’s annual address, the congresswoman’s office said.
Mrs. Obama’s other guests include: Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, who was awarded the nation’s top military award, the Medal of Honor, in November for stepping into an ambush in Afghanistan to try to rescue fellow troops; and Brandon Fisher, who owns a small business in Pennsylvania that manufactures drill bits and other equipment used to help rescue 33 miners who were trapped in a Chilean mine. Also seated with the first lady will be several other military veterans, patients helped by Obama’s health care bill, entrepreneurs and business people who benefited from the economic stimulus bill, and a few student inventors.
Associated Press writer Mark Carlson in Phoenix and Associated Press Broadcast Correspondent Gerald Bodlander in Washington contributed to this report.