Ranking Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky joined a bipartisan chorus of condemnation against the "terrible act of violence" directed toward her House colleague, Gabrielle Giffords, her staff and several Arizona constituents.
"Congresswoman Giffords conducts herself in a dignified, civil manner and with a kind demeanor, making it particularly shocking that she would be the target of such violence," Schakowsky said in a statement issued Saturday evening.
Schakowsky, who represents Illinois' 9th Congressional District that includes Skokie, said she was "horrified" of the news and is praying for the "full recovery" of her fellow Democrat, who is reported to be in critical condition at the University of Arizona Hospital in Tucson.
Giffords was shot in the head outside a Safeway supermarket while she conducted a "Congress on Your Corner" event Saturday in Tucson, according to news reports.
At least six people were killed, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl. At least 13 others were treated for wounds or other injuries after the 22-year-old suspected gunman, Jared Loughner, opened fire on the crowd.
“My heart goes out to the families, friends and colleagues of the individuals who were injured or killed in this terrible act of violence. I hold them all in my thoughts and prayers," the Illinois congresswoman said.
Schakowsky, an outspoken member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, described the more moderate Giffords as “a smart and effective congresswoman" who is "extremely friendly, and very popular with her colleagues."
Like Schakowsky, Giffords also survived a Republican onslaught that swept out the Democratic majority in the House. She won re-election following a hotly contested campaign against Republican Jesse Kelly, who challenged her on issues such as health care and immigration.
Giffords was among those sworn in last week to the newest congressional session. She is in her third term of representing the 8th Congressional District, a vast 9,000-square-mile area in southern Arizona that includes Tucson.
In condemning the shooting, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said "an attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve," while House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called it a "national tragedy."
President Obama said in a statement posted online: "Such a senseless and terrible act of violence has no place in a free society."
Schakowsky remains mum about her security, even as various media outlets are reporting that the U.S. Capitol Police is "advising them [lawmakers] to take reasonable and prudent precautions regarding their personal safety and security."