Tucson shooting: Woman who grabbed ammo from gunman remembers


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For Tucson residents, Sunday was a time to remember, but it was also a time to reassert the unity that followed the tragedy of a year ago, when a gunman opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, killing six people and wounding Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 12 others.

“We refuse to let this tragic day define us,” said Patricia Maisch at one of the many memorials marking two days of commemoration in the city. On the day of the attack, Maisch grabbed a gun magazine from the gunman after he was tackled by others.


As part of a tribute to the victims, she spoke not only of the men who trapped the gunman but also of Tucson residents who comforted the dying, tried to save the wounded and sought to help one another that dark day and in the following year of pain. On the day of the shooting, Tucson became one family, she told a crowd in a program titled “Reflections: Honoring the Lives of the Jan. 8 Shooting Victims.”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” Maisch said at Centennial Hall on the University of Arizona campus. “Your presence here reaffirms the incredible character of our community.”

“Together we are a priceless resource,” she said later.

Giffords, who suffered a critical head injury in the shooting, has spent the last year struggling to recover. She and her husband, former astronaut Mark E. Kelly, were scheduled to attend a later vigil, the main event in a weekend of remembrance.

At the program honoring the victims, it was Giffords’ political career that was invoked by Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), a Tucson native and son of a prominent political family.

“We don’t hear our elected officials speaking words that bring us together,” said Udall, adding that Giffords’ bipartisan spirit is needed more than ever in Washington. If words become weapons, he said, “how can we find common ground for the good of our country?”



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-- Michael Muskal