Doctors have removed Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords from a respirator, a week after she was shot in the head while speaking to constituents in Arizona.
In a statement Saturday, hospital officials said doctors performed surgery ((tracheotomy)) Saturday to replace the breathing tube threaded down her throat with one inserted in her windpipe.
Giffords was already breathing on her own, but the respirator and breathing tube helped protect against fluid gathering in her lungs. Doctors said removing the respirator would give them a chance to assess Gifford’s ability to speak after the brain injury.
It is exactly one week since a gunman attacked Giffords as she was holding a pubic meeting outside a supermarket in Tucson. Six people were killed, and 13 wounded.
One of the wounded was arrested Saturday for making threatening remarks at a town hall meeting being taped for a television show.
According to people who were at the meeting, James Fuller snapped a photo and yelled “you’re dead” to another participant, the local founder of the conservative “Tea Party” movement.
A local news report says the incident occurred after the Tea Party founder said gun control discussions should wait.
Police say Fuller, who was shot in the knee and back, was taken to a hospital for a mental health evaluation.
Earlier Saturday, about 100 people gathered to observe a moment of silence near a makeshift memorial outside the supermarket where the shooting took place.
It was the first day the supermarket was open for business since the deadly incident.
U.S. President Barack Obama marked the day by urging Democrats and Republicans to come together to tackle the nation’s challenges.
He said both parties must work together, “because before we are Democrats or Republicans, we are Americans.”
Republican Representative Jeff Flake of Arizona also discussed the shooting in this week’s Republican address. He called the attack “horrific,” but said lawmakers will not let it prevent them from fulfilling their duty to listen and represent.