For victims of 2011 Tucson shooting, Wednesday attack a painful reminder

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Pam Simon, one of the survivors of the 2011 attack in Tucson that left six dead and 13 injured, including then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, said news of Wednesday's shooting brought memories rushing back. (Source: Tyler Fingert, Cronkite News) Pam Simon, one of the survivors of the 2011 attack in Tucson that left six dead and 13 injured, including then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, said news of Wednesday's shooting brought memories rushing back. (Source: Tyler Fingert, Cronkite News)
Ron Barber was an aide to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who went on win the congressional seat she was forced to abandon after her shooting. Barber, wounded in that shooting, said such events scar the community as well as individuals. (Source: Tyler Fingert) Ron Barber was an aide to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who went on win the congressional seat she was forced to abandon after her shooting. Barber, wounded in that shooting, said such events scar the community as well as individuals. (Source: Tyler Fingert)
Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: Gabrielle Giffords/Twitter) (Source: Gabrielle Giffords/Twitter)

By Brianna Stearns and Devin Conley, Cronkite News

(CRONKITE) It’s been more than six years since a shooting spree at a Tucson congressional event killed six and wounded 13, including then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, but Wednesday’s shooting in Virginia brought the memories flooding back.

Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, and four others were wounded when a gunman opened fire on Republican lawmakers as they practiced in Alexandria, Virginia, for an upcoming charity baseball game – the first shooting of a member of Congress since Giffords.

[READ MORE: Rifle-wielding gunman wounds lawmaker, then killed by police]

“I am heartbroken for the pain of Congressman Scalise, the other victims, and their family, friends, and colleagues who survived,” Giffords said in a statement released Wednesday. “I also know the courage it takes to recover from a shooting like this, and I know Steve and everyone there this morning have such courage in great supply.”

[RELATED: Giffords tweets support following baseball practice shooting]

[RELATED: Gabrielle Giffords shot and injured in Tucson (Jan. 8, 2011)]

Staff members who accompanied Giffords at the time of the 2011 attack were reminded of the tragedy they then experienced.

“My first reaction was to think back to that awful day of Jan. 8 when Congressman Giffords was shot,” said Ron Barber, a Giffords aide who was wounded in the 2011 attack and later elected to fill her seat in Congress. “I was standing beside her and was the second person shot that morning.”

[RELATED: Shooting brings back haunting memories for former Giffords staffer]

Another staff member wounded in the attack, Pam Simon, was overwhelmed with sadness Wednesday morning. She said that a half-decade later the news was all too familiar to her and others who were touched by the Tucson shooting.

“There was a lot of emails to each other and texts, encouraging each other to take care of themselves,” Simon said of hearing the news Wednesday. “It’s both a beautiful experience that we have stayed so close, but also everyone reported having all those feelings flood back.”

The Tucson community was jolted by the 2011 attack, and memories that they thought were placed behind them began to resurface.

“It was very emotional for me and it does kind of bring it all back,” said Crystal Kasnoff, a childhood friend of Giffords’ and director of a memorial to the Tucson shooting.

[READ MORE: Survivors of 2011 Tucson mass shooting plan to build memorial | GoFundMe: Tucson's January 8th Memorial]

“The shock of what had happened and happening again, we can just pray and hope that our country comes together and finds a solution to these types of violence,” Kasnoff said.

Survivors of the Giffords attack said they still cope with the consequences of such a tragedy.

“Something that was said this morning was that the congressman would fully recover – no one ever fully recovers from an event like this,” Simon said Wednesday. “It’s part of you, it’s part of your past, it will always be there even if a physical wound has healed.”

Such attacks affect not just the direct victims, but also the people surrounding them, the survivors said.

“It’s not just the physical injuries, which are serious enough, it’s the emotional and psychological injuries that I think will be with anyone who witnessed this,” said Barber, injuries that he said stay with them for life.

The shock of what had happened and happening again, we can just pray and hope that our country comes together and finds a solution to these types of violence.

Victims responded to the shooting Wednesday by encouraging the country to come together and support each other in the healing process.

“I think about the Washington, D.C., community, because though many people in Washington, D.C., come from somewhere else, they are today a family in the way that Tucson was a family,” Simon said.