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Arizona gunman in court, nation mourns

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Monday, January 10, 2011 - 6:25pm

TUCSON, AZ (NBC News) -- Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is still in critical condition today, but doctors are optimistic. As the accused gunman made his first appearance in Federal court this morning, the reality of what happened on Saturday, Jan. 8, is just setting in across the United States.

In Baton Rouge, retired Lieutenant General Russel Honore paused before speaking to the Press Club today about the upcoming Louisiana Bicentennial.

“You know I was sitting this Saturday afternoon like most other people. I had the television on and then this event occurred,” Honore recalled. “And as the thing unfolded - you know it gives you pause - to figure out what is going on in America.”

Silent and somber, the nation paused today to remember from the White House to the scene of the tragedy, and the hospital where the victims still fight for their lives. The emotion stretching as far as NASA’S Mission Control, and colleagues of Gabrielle Giffords husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, including his brother, Scott, who’s currently on-board the International Space Station.

"As I look out my window and see a very beautiful planet that seems very inviting and peaceful, unfortunately it is not,” Commander Scott Kelly said from the depths of space. “Please join me and the rest of the ISS Expedition 26 crew in a moment of silence."

The silence was broken today as the focus shifts to the man accused.

Twenty-two year old Jared Loughner faced a federal judge for the first time today. Charged with five counts of murder and attempting to murder a federal employee.

Investigators say to this point he has refused to cooperate and has said very little while in custody. They believe new evidence uncovered at his home speaks volumes.

Agents found a harshly worded letter, addressed to Congresswoman Giffords, but apparently never sent. They call the note threatening, but say there’s no mention of the attack. We also now know that Loughner was heavily armed that day, carrying 90 rounds of ammunition.

One of those bullets tragically piercing the brain of Giffords, who doctors say continues to show signs of progress.

“We are not out of the woods yet, that swelling can sometimes take 3 day or 5 days to maximize every day that goes by and we don't see an increase were slightly more optimistic,” Dr. Michael Lemole, University Medical Center, said in a press conference today.

Hope that is so desperately needed by so many here right now.
 

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