"I picked up the phone and she says, 'I don't know how to tell you about this, but I just received a call ... and Gabby's been shot,'" Kelly told Sawyer. "I said, 'Well, that's, you know, that's not possible -- are you sure?'"
With no other information, Kelly ended the conversation and hung up his cell phone. He had to look at the phone's call history to make sure he hadn't imagined the news. He told his children -- Giffords' step-daughters -- and then called Giffords' parents and his own. Then, there was one thought in his head.
"[I] quickly had to figure out how I'm going to get there very, you know, very fast," Kelly said.
By the time Kelly arrived in Tucson's University Hospital, the initial shock had worn off and another emotion had set in -- anger.
"I was really angry for two to three days. Very, very angry," Kelly said. "The first call I received after I arrived at the hospital was President Obama, and I expressed to him ... how angry I was."
"Whom did you blame?" Sawyer asked.
"Initially, I was upset because she'd, you know, received death threats before," Kelly said, adding that he felt it was "just part of what we've been dealing with for the last year."
He said they had talked "dozens of times" about how "risky" Giffords' job was.
"She says, you know, 'Someday I'm really worried that somebody's going to come up to me at one of these events with a gun,'" Kelly said.
Sawyer asked, "Do you still think the climate in this country had anything to do with it?"
"I don't. It certainly didn't cause this," Kelly said. "It didn't cause Jared Loughner to, you know, to plan this attack. ... I think you have somebody that's really, really disturbed, possibly schizophrenic."
Kelly told Sawyer he has no desire to meet Loughner, but when asked if he would ever be willing to meet with Loughner's parents, he said he was open to the idea.
I'd probably see them," he said. "I don't think it's their fault. It's not the parents' fault. I'd like to think I'm a person that's somewhat forgiving. And, I mean, they've got to be hurting in this situation as much as anybody.
Still, Kelly believes that there's now a chance to change a political environment he thinks is filled with far too much vitriol. He has seen the anger firsthand, watching during Giffords' campaigns as his wife was called a terrorist, targeted by death threats, and had the front door of her office shot out after a contentious vote.
"Maybe we could use this as an opportunity to make things better," Kelly said. "Maybe it's time to just tone it down, try to get back to a better place, try to get to a place where we can just disagree, and get rid of the heated, angry rhetoric."
From the moment Kelly and Giffords met on a delegation to China, he knew her to be a hardworking, optimistic person with a true passion for her job. Then she was a young state senator, and he was an astronaut struggling through a divorce. As the two built a friendship, Giffords even offered her eventual husband dating advice before they realized that their future was with each other.
Giffords and Kelly knew their relationship would never be a conventional one. Their first date was to a state prison so Giffords could do research on death penalty legislation.