HOUSTON — Rep. Gabrielle Giffords got a dramatic send-off from her hometown Friday as throngs of sign-carrying well-wishers lined the streets to wave at the ambulance taking the wounded congresswoman from the hospital to the airport, where she was flown to Houston just two weeks after she was shot.
The trip by ambulance, jet and helicopter took her to a Houston hospital where she will undergo weeks of rigorous rehabilitation.
"We want to be here to help her and show her a good farewell, and hope that she has a great recovery," said Al Garcia, a Marine veteran who came on his Harley Davidson motorcycle. "It's through all of these prayers that she's leaving in just two weeks."
A gunman shot Giffords and 18 other people Jan. 8 as she met with constituents outside a grocery store in Tucson. Six people died; all other survivors have been released from the hospital. The suspect in the attack, Jared Loughner, 22, of Tucson, is being held in federal custody.
Giffords has been making progress nearly every day at University Medical Center in Tucson. Her husband, Houston-based astronaut Mark Kelly, tweeted Friday: "GG going to next phase of her recover today. Very grateful to the docs and nurses at UMC, Tucson PD, Sheriffs Dept....Back in Tucson ASAP!"