This article was reported by Marc Lacey, Jennifer Medina and Denise Grady and written by Mr. Lacey. TUCSON — There are stuffed animals of all possible species and notes written by children in crayon. There are inspiring biblical verses, photographs of the departed and candles summoning a plethora of saints. The somber, sprawling memorial outside University Medical Center has become the focal point for Tucson’s grief.
But it is not the only one. At the Safeway supermarket where a gunman opened fire on a group gathered to meet Representative Gabrielle Giffords on Jan. 8, outside the wounded congresswoman’s district office, at the entrance to the school where one victim attended third grade, makeshift memorials are popping up across this shell-shocked community.
“It’s 100 percent unorganized,” said Karen Mlawsky, the chief executive of University Medical Center, where crowds swelled into the hundreds Monday on the Martin Luther King’s Birthday holiday to honor the dead. “It’s been spontaneous, and it changes every day. Right now, there are 75 people on the lawn. Some of them are crying. Many have brought their children.”
As Tucson grieves, there are already discussions on erecting permanent memorials to the six who died. Ms. Mlawsky said the hospital intended to put up a shrine. Proposals being floating include naming a university building after one victim and a school and baseball field after another. Scholarships are being set up and food drives organized in victims’ names.
Meanwhile, everyday people are creating remembrances of their own, one bouquet of flowers or handwritten tribute at a time. “Fight Gabby Fight,” read a sign on the hospital lawn, not far scores of others that thank the doctors and lament the loss of Christina-Taylor Green, the youngest victim, and the other five who lost their lives.
“There is so little one can do after something so awful, and people feel this is something,” Jim Griffith, a retired Tucson ethnographer, said of the makeshift memorials. “Some people are trying to communicate with God or the saints or whoever they communicate with. Some want to send a message to Gabby. There are nuances of meaning that differ from person to person to person.”
Much of the outpouring is directed at Ms. Giffords, who doctors said continued to make progress after receiving a bullet wound to the head. On Saturday, she underwent surgery to repair her right eye socket, and the next major milestone in her recovery will come when she is released from the hospital into a rehabilitation center, which could be in a matter of days or weeks, doctors said.
Ms. Giffords can already breathe on her own and appeared to be focusing her eyes, a sign of progress, the doctors said. They noted that she had made it through the most dangerous period as far as potential swelling of her injured brain was concerned but that she still faced the risk of infection and other serious complications.
Her husband, Capt. Mark E. Kelly, a naval officer and astronaut, said in a television interview with ABC News to be broadcast Tuesday night that Ms. Giffords had rubbed his back for 10 minutes, which doctors said was another positive sign. “It does imply that she is interacting, perhaps, in a more familiar way with him,” said Dr. G. Michael Lemole Jr., the chief neurosurgeon at the hospital.
Doctors have replaced a breathing tube in Ms. Giffords’s mouth with one in her neck. They said the breathing tube would not allow her to speak because it did not allow air past her vocal cords. They said she had not yet tried to speak.
“At this time, we’re hoping to continue tying up loose ends,” Dr. Lemole said about preparing Ms. Giffords for a rehabilitation center. Hospital officials said they did not plan to hold another daily briefing about her case until Ms. Giffords was ready to leave the hospital.
Ms. Giffords’s room is not within view of the growing shrine for her and the other gunshot victims, but many of those who gather there say they long for the day she recovers enough to see how much the city has been rooting for her.
“This reminds me of Princess Diana’s memorial,” said Janie Schembri, a fifth-grade teacher who was outside the hospital Monday afternoon laying out artwork created by students at her school. “It’s beautiful, and it shows how much trauma all of us are in and how we’re searching for ways of healing.”
The School of Social Work at Arizona State University held a service Monday for Gabriel Zimmerman, an aide to Ms. Giffords who was killed in the shooting. Mr. Zimmerman graduated from the school with a master’s degree in 2006, and his friends and teachers gathered in an outdoor courtyard on the Tucson campus to remember him as an empathetic man who could connect with anyone.
Craig LeCroy, a professor at the university, proposed naming the school after Mr. Zimmerman. Others suggested donating to a scholarship that has already been created in his name for promising young students interested in public service.
On Monday, word came that another victim of the shootings had left a legacy: John Green, the father of Christina-Taylor Green, the 9-year-old girl who was killed, said donated corneas transplanted from his daughter had saved the eyesight of two children, The Associated Press reported.
At the memorials, there is usually silence, except for an occasional sob. But then the music starts. A mariachi band has been playing for Ms. Giffords, stopping outside the hospital day after day. And on Monday, members of the Tucson Girls Chorus gathered in a circle and sang.
“We gave what we have to give, and that’s our voices,” said Marcela Molina, the artistic director. “We believe in the power of music to heal.”