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Memorial for Giffords attack to open this year

TUCSON, Ariz. – The flowers, teddy bears and inspirational posters that once lined a parking lot where six were killed and 13, including former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords, injured in a mass shooting have found a temporary home in a Tucson museum.

But four years after the shooting, of which Giffords was a target, a permanent memorial has yet to sprout.

Organizers with the January 8th Memorial, a nonprofit foundation working on a long-term memorial, are in the final phase of selecting a designer. Foundation manager Michelle Crow said the completion target is 2015. The memorial will be at El Presidio Park in downtown Tucson, but there are plans for other exhibits.

“People remember the day. They remember when they heard. They want to remember what happened … and they want to … commemorate that anniversary,” Crow said.

The four designer finalists will discuss their designs at public meetings in Tucson next week.

“Four years ago, we lost friends, loved ones and neighbors in a senseless attack. We are proud of the compassion and strength that our community has shown in the face of shock and grief. Today, as we remember those who were lost, we stand together and renew our commitment to work to protect other communities from tragedies like this,” Giffords said in a statement.

The Jan. 8, 2011, shooting shook Tucson, a city that considers itself a tight-knit community despite its half-million residents. Among those killed was 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, whose face adorns many of the memorial messages left at the shooting site and at University of Arizona Medical Center. U.S. District Judge John Roll and Giffords aide Gabe Zimmerman were also killed. Former Rep. Ron Barber, who at the time worked for Giffords, was wounded but later took over Gifford’s seat in Congress.

Giffords still struggles to speak and walk. She has become the face of gun control, having founded Americans for Responsible Solutions with her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly.