January 12, 2011 / 3:10 AM / 9 years ago

Memorial service held for Arizona shooting victims

TUCSON, Arizona (Reuters) - More than 600 mourners gathered on Tuesday at a memorial service for the victims of a shooting spree that killed six people and wounded 14 others, including a Congresswoman.

Roxanna Green (C), mother of nine-year-old victim Christina Green, attends a community Mass at St. Odilia Catholic Church honoring the victims of Saturday's mass shooting, in Tucson, Arizona, January 11, 2011. REUTERS/Greg Bryan/Pool

Among those killed in the rampage on Saturday were U.S. District Judge John Roll and Christina Taylor Green, the 9-year-old granddaughter of former pro baseball manager Dallas Green.

Critically injured was Representative Gabrielle Giffords, the apparent target of the gunman.

Doctors said on Tuesday Giffords was breathing without the aid of a ventilation tube but remained in critical condition after being shot in the head.

The service at St. Odilia Catholic Church was intended as a memorial mass for members of the community to remember all of the victims.

Reverend Gerald Kicanas, bishop of Tucson, read the names of the six slain on Saturday including Green, who took her first communion at the church and sang in the girl’s choir.

“I know she’s singing with us tonight,” he said.

The shootings sparked a national debate about the angry politics of recent U.S. campaigns and about gun controls.

“We are in tears, we are pained,” Kicanas said. “We are a community struggling with ... how such violence happened to innocent people,” he added.

“The tragedy of that Saturday morning will haunt us for a long, long time,” he said, calling for prayers “to encourage us to rid our communities of violence.”

President Barack Obama plans to go to Arizona on Wednesday to attend a memorial service for the dead. In Washington, the House of Representatives was scheduled to vote to condemn the bloody rampage that nearly killed one of their own.

“I wanted to come to a quiet place, sort out my thoughts, try to accept what happened, and try to help myself move on,” Tony Hanf, a 20-year-old grocery store worker, said outside St. Odilia’s

“I’m hurting too,” said lay Carmelite worker Elisa Castellano, 78. “I was so shocked, so touched ... I’m here for the healing process” to start.

Reporting by Tim Gaynor. Writing by Dan Whitcomb. Editing by Peter Bohan

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