NEA President on Shooting of Rep. Giffords, 19 Others

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel on Saturday commented on the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords during a constituent event in Tucson, Ariz., that left six dead and 12 injured, including a retired member of the Arizona Education Association.

“On behalf of all the members of the National Education Association, I wish to express my deep concern about the attack on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords,” said Van Roekel, who taught for 23 years in Arizona.

“We know that she is under the best of care and is surrounded by the love from her family. The NEA and Arizona Education Association join with the heartfelt support of her community in wishing her a speedy and complete recovery. Rep. Giffords is a dedicated public servant and has made outstanding contributions to Arizona.

Also injured in the shooting was Pam Simon, one of the congresswoman’s staffers who is a retired member of the Arizona Education Association, said AEA President Andrew Morrill. As an AEA/NEA member, Simon served on state committees and task forces in addition to serving as a local president at Marana Education Association. Simon later joined the representative’s campaign when Giffords first ran for Congress and was then hired to Giffords’ constituent office, working out in Tucson.

“We are horrified by the tragedy that has taken the lives of six people and wounded others as a result of this attack,” Van Roekel said. “Nothing can be more difficult or deserving of more support, and our prayers are with the family and friends. ”

Throughout the afternoon the nation’s leaders, including President Barack Obama, spoke about the senseless attack. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack expressed his sorrow at the shooting.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Representative and all those who have been victims of this senseless act of violence. Our heart goes out to those family members who are grieving the loss or injury of a loved one.”

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, of Arizona, commented on the shooting saying, “There is no place in our society or discourse for such senseless and unconscionable acts of violence. Gabby is a steadfast representative for southern Arizona and both she and John are dedicated public servants.”