Gabe Zimmerman, thirty, the director of community outreach for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), was among the six people slain in Saturday’s rampage targeting the congresswoman.
Giffords was shot in the head and remains in critical condition after undergoing emergency surgery. Two other staffers, Pam Simon and Ron Barber, were also wounded in the attack and remain hospitalized.
Zimmerman, who had recently become engaged to be married, had worked on Rep. Giffords’s staff since she first took office in 2007. As director of community outreach, Zimmerman was well known in Arizona’s 8th congressional district, which covers the state’s southeastern corner, including part of Tucson.
Zimmerman received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of California Santa Cruz and a master’s degree in social work from Arizona State University. According to the Wall Street Journal, Zimmerman’s mother describes him as having had a passion for his community as well as for assisting local veterans and individuals with mental illness.
Zimmerman is survived by his mother, Emily Nottingham; his father, Ross Zimmerman; his step-mother, Pam Golden; his brother, Ben Zimmerman; and his fiancée, Kelly O’Brien.
“Even in the midst of a tight campaign, he had nothing bad to say about the people we were running against,” Tom Zoellner, an author, former San Francisco Chronicle reporter and volunteer for the Gifford’s campaign in 2006, told the Arizona Daily Star. “Gabe never seemed to take things personally.”
In his appearance on Face the Nation yesterday, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) said of Zimmerman, “The people on my staff—I’m a Republican, [Giffords is] a Democrat—but they loved Gabe and really enjoyed working with him.”
A Facebook page titled “Staffers Honor Gabe Zimmerman” has been created for mourners to remember his tragic passing.
Noah Rothman is the online editor at C&E. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org