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Hill, Obama Observe Moment of Silence for Victims

Capitol Hill fell silent Monday morning as Members, staff, police and visitors paused to mourn the victims of Saturday’s shooting in Arizona. The tragedy left six dead and 14 wounded including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who remained in serious condition after suffering a gunshot to the head.

Hundreds of people gathered on the House side of the Capitol to participate in the observance, including Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) and Reps. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas), Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.).

President Barack Obama first called for the moment of silence, which took place at 11 a.m., and gathered with first lady Michelle Obama at the South Lawn of the White House.

Afterward, Cleaver led the gathered aides and Members in a short prayer, asking God to “help us move from this dark place to a place of sunshine.”

Earlier Monday, Obama ordered that U.S. flags be flown at half-staff at the White House, on all public buildings and on all naval vessels throughout the country until sunset on Friday. Flags have been flowing at half-staff at the Capitol.

In addition to seriously injuring Giffords, Saturday’s attack also took the lives of six people, including U.S. District Judge John Roll; Gabe Zimmerman, a 30-year-old Giffords aide who was recently engaged; Christina Taylor Green, a 9-year-old girl who had just been elected to her school’s student council; Dorothy Morris, 76; Dorwin Stoddard, 76; and Phyllis Scheck, 79.

Two other Giffords aides were also injured: District Director Ron Barber and caseworker Pam Simon. Barber and Simon are both expected to fully recover.

Giffords, 40, who was elected to her third term in November, remains at the Tucson University Medical Center. She is expected to remain in the hospital for several weeks.

The House was also scheduled to hold a closed-door prayer service in the Cannon Caucus room Monday afternoon for lawmakers and staff, and a condolences book was to be laid out in the Cannon Rotunda for Members and aides to sign following the service, aides said.

Meanwhile, the alleged shooter, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner, was scheduled to be appear in a Phoenix federal court Monday afternoon. Attorney Judy Clarke is representing Loughner. She has represented unabomber Ted Kaczynski, al-Qaida terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui and Susan Smith, who was convicted of killing her two sons in 1994.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) observed the moment of silence at the Martha Layne Collins High School in Kentucky, where he also discussed the shooting.

“When an elected representative is gunned down in the very act of exchanging ideas with his or her constituents, Democracy itself is attacked. And all Americans are united in condemning this unspeakable act of violence,” McConnell said.

Jennifer Bendery contributed to this report.

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