PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Local political figures continue to send their thoughts and prayers to United States Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her family after Saturday’s tragic shooting in Arizona.

Former Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper, of Erie, says she knows Congresswoman Giffords well. The two shared the same apartment in Washington D.C. last month.

Giffords is now hospitalized after she was shot Saturday morning while hosting a public event at a supermarket in Tucson. She is in intensive care on a ventilator.

Doctors say the bullet passed through Giffords’ skull.

Mourners continue to pile flowers, signs, candles and stuffed animals in front of the Tucson hospital where many of those who were injured in the shooting are recovering.

Meanwhile, back here in the Pittsburgh area, local politicians and other public figures continue to cope with the tragedy.

In an interview today with KDKA’s Ralph Iannotti, Dahlkemper said she was shocked by the shooting that left her friend and more than a dozen others wounded, as well as six people dead.

The two women were Democrats elected in traditionally Republican districts. They were friends, and served together on the House Science and Technology Committee.

They stayed in the same Washington D.C. apartment building. After she lost her election, Dahlkemper shared Gifford’s apartment last month before her lease ran out and she returned to western Pennsylvania.

While officials have not yet determined an exact motive, there are growing concerns it may have been the result of the recent inflammatory political discourse over issues like health care and immigration.

“The [political] rhetoric that we’ve been hearing over the past few years could incite some people to behave in ways they shouldn’t behave, and I’m very concerned,” Dahlkemper said.

“I’m praying that this incident, as negative and senseless as it was, can make people step back, think and move forward in a positive manner,” she added.

Congressman Mike Kelly, of Butler, the man who defeated Dahlkemper in last fall’s election, said he was horrified by the Arizona shooting. He called it a senseless and despicable act, adding that violence against public officials has no place in our country.

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