The city of Tucson, Arizona, witnessed a moment of silence as thousands gathered for a candle-light vigil at the University of Arizona on Sunday to mark the first anniversary of the mass shooting that occurred on Jan. 8, 2011.
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, still recuperating from the serious head injuries she suffered in the attack, attended the event with husband, astronaut Mark Kelly. The Democratic congresswoman stepped onstage and led the service, beginning with the Pledge of Allegiance, Reuters reports.
Giffords also paid a surprise visit at the scene of shooting on Jan. 7 for the first time since she was gunned down that day.
Bells rang out across the nation to commemorate the anniversary as survivors and relatives of the victims lit candles placed on the stage in memory of those affected by the attack.
Two church services were also held late on Jan. 8, as hundreds gathered for an interfaith service at the St. Augustine Cathedral. It was highly emotional, as many held back tears as names of those who died were called out during the service.
A lot of us have come a long way since that date a year ago. For some people it will take much more time to get over it, but having this service ... was healing, said Gary Huckleberry, whose daughter witnessed the shooting spree that fateful day.
The shooting rampage claimed the lives six people leaving 13 others gravely injured, when a mentally-ill Jared Lee Loughner opened fire indiscriminately in a Safeway supermarket a year back.
At the time of the attack, the congresswoman had shots fired at her head, while she held a constituent meeting outside a grocery store. Giffords has spent the past year recovering from her injuries at a specialist hospital in Texas.
Loughner, who was arrested at the scene of the shooting, pleaded not guilty to the attacks. He is currently being treated in a mental health facility of the prison hospital, in hopes that he can stand trial.