U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords lost her 30-year-old Jewish director of community outreach Saturday in the deadly rampage by an Arizona gunman that nearly ended her own life.
Gabriel Zimmerman, a former Master’s-level social worker, had been a member of her staff since the earliest point in her Congressional career, joining her team in 2007. He was engaged to be married, media reported.
It was Zimmerman who had organized the “Congress on your Corner” event at which the gunman carried out his shooting spree, according to Politco.com.
“Gabe was a master at dealing with people,” Gifford spokesman C.J. Karamargin told reporters. “He truly cared about helping people. There were no politics involved in this.”
Two other Giffords staffers were injured in the shooting, district director Ron Barber and community outreach worker Pam Simon. Both are expected to recover, doctors said.
“Our community has lost beloved friends and colleagues,” wrote Gifford’s chief of staff Pia Carusone in a statement posted on the Congresswoman's website. “Our hearts and prayers go out to all of them and to those who are suffering the loss of treasured friends and family members.”
Six people were killed and 12 others were wounded in the shooting which also took the lives of Chief Judge John Roll of the U.S. District Court for Arizona, and a nine-year-old girl whose identity has not been released.
Karamargin told CNN Saturday night there had been no recent threats received by the lawmaker’s office, and her staff had had no reason to fear for her safety or theirs. “She has always been very open and accessible. She’s never shied away from an opportunity to meet with her constituents, even when the topic was hot and heavy,” Karamargin said.
Giffords was addressing supporters at a “Congress on Your Corner” event at a Tucson supermarket when the suspect, 22-year-old Jared Loughner allegedly raced up and fired a Glock pistol at the Congresswoman’s head from about four feet away. Neurosurgeons at University Medical Center worked to repair the damage from the bullet, which they said passed straight through her brain.
The gunman was wrestled to the ground after firing indiscriminately at the crowd, and taken into custody. According to police, the murder weapon was purchased legally.