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Rep. Giffords condition improves to serious

Photo by Carly Farrell

Photo by Carly Farrell

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' condition improved to serious Sunday after procedures to remove a ventilator were successful.

Doctors decided to upgrade her from critical because the tracheotomy done a day earlier went well, and Giffords was breathing on her own, hospital spokeswoman Katie Riley said.

Giffords was one of 19 people shot at a Safeway store Jan. 8. Six were killed.

At the Safeway, the makeshift memorial of flowers, teddy bears, candles and cards was growing, more than a week after the tragedy.

Becky Chowning, of Louisville, Ky., laid a rose and stepped back. She put her hand over her heart and began to sob.

"It's just so moving. I wanted to pay my respects," Chowning said, barely able to get the words out. "Seeing these people here today, and all the flowers, it's just amazing. I hope it helps the families to heal."

Eduardo Ibarola sat quietly off to the side with a colorful beaded rosary in his hand. He had been praying all week but drove from Phoenix with his 5-year-old grandson to set his heart right.

"We came just so I could say my rosary. All I want is for those upstairs to hear my prayers," Ibarola said, adding that he had been thinking all week about the youngest victim, 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green.

The girl's father told The Boston Globe some of her organs were donated to a young girl in the area there, but he didn't have any other details.

He said they were once again proud of their daughter, "who has done another amazing thing."