The youngest victim of a shooting rampage in Arizona is set to be buried Thursday, a day after U.S. President Barack Obama paid tribute to her and five others killed in the attack that also wounded a U.S. congresswoman.
At a memorial service Wednesday, President Obama invoked the memory of nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green as he urged the country to use the tragedy as a time to set aside political differences. In an emotional speech, the president said that he wants the country to live up to her expectations, saying he wants the nation's democracy to be "as good as she imagined it."
A funeral also is to be held Thursday for federal Judge John Roll.
Six people were killed Saturday when a gunman opened fire at a political event hosted by U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords outside a supermarket in Tucson, Arizona. Giffords, the apparent target of the attack, was shot in the head and is recovering at a Tucson hospital.
During his speech, Mr. Obama said he was told Giffords opened her eyes for the first time in the hospital Wednesday, shortly after he and his wife Michelle visited her.
Jared Loughner, 22, is accused of carrying out the attack. He is charged with several counts, including the attempted assassination of a member of Congress. If convicted he could get life in prison or the death penalty.
It was the first deadly attack against a U.S. member of Congress since 1978, when California Representative Leo Ryan was killed in Guyana, while visiting the compound of a U.S.-based cult known as Jonestown.
Investigators found handwritten notes at Loughner's home with Giffords' name, the words "I planned ahead" and "My assassination." Some of the writings were scrawled on a letter Giffords' office sent to the suspect in 2007 after he attended one of her political events.
Police and media reports depict Loughner as a mentally unstable young man, who became increasingly unhinged in recent years.
Meanwhile, an extremist church based in the Midwestern state of Kansas has called off plans to hold protests Thursday at funerals for the shooting victims.
The group is notorious for demonstrating at funerals, including for U.S. soldiers, to spread their message that the deaths are God's punishment for America's tolerance of homosexuality.
A spokeswoman for Westboro Baptist Church said the demonstration was called off after the group was promised airtime on two radio stations.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.