WASHINGTON - Doctors say they are "very, very encouraged" by the progress Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is making one day after she was shot in the head at a public event in Tucson, Ariz.
Surgeons at the University of Arizona Medical Center said the bullet believed to be shot by 22-year-old Jared Loughner went through the left side of Goffords' brain, yet she is responding to simple commands like squeezing a hand and showing two fingers.
"This is about as good as it is going to get," said trauma surgeon Dr. Peter Rhee. "When you get shot in the head and the bullet goes through your brain, the chances of you living is very small and the chances of you waking up and actually following commands is even much smaller than that. Hopefully it will stay that way."
Six people were killed in the shooting outside a Safeway grocery store, Jan. 8, including a 9-year-old girl who was born on Sep. 11, 2001, a federal judge, and an aide to Giffords.
Click play to watch John Jessup's report. Also, watch the CBN News web extras below for additional coverage of the deadly shooting:
Reports immediately following the shooting spree suggested Giffords was among the dead. But she survived, underwent surgery, and is recovering in intensive care.
"She is in critical condition. Very optimistic about her recovery," Rhee added.
Giffords was among 10 people wounded.
"This clearly is a grave tragedy for this community, a great tragedy for the state of Arizona and for this country," said Mayor Bob Walkup.
Across the nation - an outpouring of sympathy from notes and flowers placed at Gifford's office on Capitol Hill to fellow members of Congress and to the White House.
"Those who have been injured, we are rooting for them. And I know Gabby is as tough as they come and I'm hopeful that they come through," President Obama said.
The shooting took place during Giffords's "Congress in Your Corner" forum to hear from voters. It was something she did often and addressed during the reading of the Constitution on the House floor, last week.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances," she read.
Giffords was sworn in last week by House Speaker John Boehner for her third term in Congress.
She is a Blue Dog Democrat and known as a rising star within the party, despite her nuanced positions from being a firm supporter of the Second Amendment right to bear arms to her support of the health care law enacted last year.
U.S. Capitol police are advising members of Congress to take "reasonable and prudent precautions" in the wake of the shooting.
President Obama has offered the full support of the federal government to assist Arizona authorities as they try to piece together a motive behind this senseless shooting.
"At this time I ask all Americans to join me and Michelle in keeping all the victims and their families, including Gabby, in our thoughts and prayers," Obama said.