Published November 20, 2014
A newly sworn-in congressman who was injured in a mass shooting last year along with then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords held his first "Congress on Your Corner" event with southern Arizona constituents on Saturday.
Giffords conducted 21 of the informal meet-and-greet events during her more than four years in office, including one on the day of the shooting — Jan. 8, 2011. The rampage left six dead and 13 wounded, including Giffords and her then-district director, Ron Barber.
Giffords relinquished the seat in January to concentrate on her recovery from a gunshot wound to the head. Barber, a Democrat, won a special election to replace her earlier this month. He was sworn in Tuesday in Washington, D.C.
About 300 people showed up at Saturday's event outside a Tucson grocery store as temperatures topped 100 degrees, Barber spokesman Mark Kimble said. Visitors ranged from other survivors of the mass shooting and well-wishers to people who had concerns about their federal student loans or veteran's benefits, he said.
The event had been scheduled to last an hour and a half.
"But there were so many people, we went three hours," Kimble said.
Jared Lee Loughner has pleaded not guilty to 49 charges stemming from the shooting, which took place in front of another Tucson grocery store.
Barber was shot twice — once in the face and once in the leg. He was asked by Giffords earlier this year to pursue the seat, and she appeared in Tucson during the campaign's final days to help him.
Barber defeated Republican Jesse Kelly, who narrowly lost to Giffords in 2010.