The bullets did not discriminate. Sprayed from the barrel of a 9mm Glock semiautomatic pistol by a man whose actions may never make sense, they killed six people and wounded 14 more.
Those whose lives ended violently Saturday were participating in a basic democratic exercise. They had come to meet the woman who represents them in Washington, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. A Democrat who had won her third term by a sliver, Giffords was the intended target of the shooter’s attack, authorities said.
Among the dead was John Roll, a 63-year-old federal judge known for his calm demeanor and deep knowledge of the law. Three of the slain were retired. One was a young Giffords staffer, a former social worker, who was getting married next year.
The smallest victim was a little brown-eyed girl.
Described as smart, quiet and gentle, 9-year-old Christina was born on Sept. 11, 2001. She was featured in a 2002 book of portraits called “Faces of Hope” about children born that day.
“She came in on a tragedy and she left on a tragedy,” her father, John Green, told a Tucson TV station.
When she was little, Christina would tell people she was born on a holiday. “We’d have to correct her,” her mother, Roxanna Green, told Fox News. “When she got older, she would try to see the positive in it … because it’s a day of hope.”
Bill Badger, who subdued the gunman, said he noticed Christina before the carnage began. The third-grader was standing behind Giffords, getting ready to meet the politician. The little girl was beaming.
Her mother said Christina was patriotic and liked to wear red, white and blue. Like a lot of girls her age, she loved animals, and wanted to be a veterinarian. She was also a passionate dancer and the only girl on her baseball team. Her talent for baseball was ingrained — her father is a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers and her grandfather is Dallas Green, a former major league pitcher who managed the Philadelphia Phillies to a World Series title in 1980.
“We’re all hurting pretty bad,” Dallas Green told the New York Daily News. “The worst thing to ever happen to us.”
John and Roxanna Green also have an 11-year-old son named Dallas.
Christina had just been elected to the student council at Mesa Verde Elementary School in Tucson. “She was a good speaker,” her father told the Arizona Daily Star. “I could have easily seen her as a politician.”
Knowing of her interest in politics, a neighbor invited her to meet Giffords on Saturday.
Authorities said Christina was dead by the time she arrived at the hospital.
“She had a bullet hole to the chest, and they tried to save her but she just couldn’t make it,” her mother told Fox. “It was really, really bad.”
At St. Odilia’s Parish, the Catholic church the Greens attend, Christina was described as smart and gentle. “She was a spectacular girl, but no one knew it. She was so quiet,” Teresa Bier, the church’s director of religious education, said Sunday.
Christina received her First Communion in the small turquoise building and sang in the children’s choir, Joyful Noise.
“She was just the sweetest little thing,” said Mary Figge, whose daughter, Mia, played on scooters with Christina last week. “She was always bubbly, always smiling.”
— Ashley Powers and Robin Abcarian
Dorwan and Mavy Stoddard had known each other as children in the Tucson area. They moved away, married other people and had children. After both were widowed, they reunited in their hometown and married nearly 15 years ago. Dorwan, 76, a retired construction worker and gas station owner, was killed as the couple stood in line to meet Giffords, whom Mavy admired.
The couple kept busy in retirement, taking a motor home to fishing holes in Oregon and Colorado and volunteering at the Mountain Avenue Church of Christ.
“They got into people’s lives,” said Jody Nowak, wife of the Stoddards’ pastor, Mike Nowak. “They didn’t sit on the pew and do nothing.”
The Stoddards often befriended couples who sought assistance from the church, and delivered food and flowers to the sick. Dorwan was a familiar face at the church, as was his black dog, Tux. He spent hours fixing leaks and doing other maintenance jobs. Over the years, he had fallen through a roof and off a ladder but always laughed off his bruises and scrapes.
In a corner of the church’s sunlit worship area is a small, soundproof room that Dorwan built so parents could soothe their crying children and still hear the piped-in service. Named for him, it is called Dory’s Room.
Nearby, two scratches mar a wall. Dorwan’s ladder made the marks when he tumbled off it just before Christmas. Nowak said she thought they would leave the scratches there, in memoriam.
On Saturday morning, Mavy heard blasts that sounded like fireworks, and the couple dove toward some chairs as Dorwan tried to shield Mavy with his body, Nowak said. Mavy was struck at least once in each leg.
“She didn’t realize she’d been shot,” Nowak said. “All she felt was his weight on her.”
“That would be something Dorwan would do,” Mike Nowak said. “He would have protected her.”
Before Dorwan died, Mavy told Jody, she was able to say goodbye to her husband.
The East Coast winters drove Phyllis Schneck, 79, and her husband, Ernie, to Arizona a decade ago. The couple, who met as teens in New Jersey, spent the final years of a 56-year marriage in a quiet retirement community in northwest Tucson, where she was known as an expert quilter who liked to pop by friends’ houses with her homemade lemon curd.
Schneck headed to the Safeway on Saturday to meet Giffords. Though Schneck was a Republican, she had recently listened to Giffords on a conference call and hoped to shake her hand.
Schneck’s friends remembered her as a kind and caring neighbor. She had run a women’s club in New Jersey and became active in her Presbyterian church in Tucson — often donating her handmade aprons and needlepoint projects to benefit food banks and children’s charities. One neighbor saw her recently at a neighborhood luau where she arrived in a green floral muumuu, with her famous pineapple upside-down cake.
Her world revolved around her three children, seven grandchildren, 2-year-old great-grandchild and her husband, who was the brother of her childhood best friend. Schneck once did administrative work at Fairleigh Dickinson University, but was mainly devoted to raising her children and her community work, said her daughter Betty-Jean Offutt.
The kitchen was the center of activity in the Schneck home, her daughter said. Ernie, who worked as a sheet metal fabricator in New Jersey, was always home at 5 o’clock so he wouldn’t miss Phyllis’ cooking. “When the food is good, you go home,” said Offutt, who described her mother’s macaroni and cheese as “top shelf.”
Ernie and Phyllis Schneck shared a sharp sense of humor and often bowled together. They spent summers in a small lakeside community in New Jersey, Offutt said. Ernie died of cancer several years ago.
“They had a wonderful, happy marriage for 56 years,” Offutt said, adding that her mother “would give you the shirt off her back. If you didn’t have anywhere to go, she’d invite you over to dinner.”
George and Dorothy Morris of Oro Valley, Ariz., met as high school students in Reno. Ever since, friends say, they were at each other’s side.
Both were shot Saturday morning. Dorothy, 76, died at the scene. George, hit in the chest and leg, is expected to leave intensive care Monday, said his longtime friend, Bill Royle.
“They seemed like they were on their honeymoon,” Royle said. “They were always together.”
George, also 76, was an airline pilot, first for Pan Am based in Germany and later for United. He had a side job selling real estate, and long after he retired from flying about 1995, he continued to work. Dorothy worked as his secretary and bookkeeper. They have two daughters, both of whom live in Las Vegas.
The two enjoyed retirement. They had a home in Pinetop, Ariz., a small community in the White Mountains, and an another in Panama they would visit about twice a year. Guests were always flowing into their home for regular get-togethers.
“They were people who were easy to get along with,” Royle said. “They had their opinions, especially in politics, [but it was] nothing too radical.”
When Gabe Zimmerman visited Washington in 2009 for President Obama’s inauguration, he immersed himself in the monuments to American history, one of his passions.
“When we went to the Lincoln Memorial on a cold, damp January morning, the wind whipped through the place and it was freezing cold, but Gabe had to read every single word of the Gettysburg Address,” said C.J. Karamargin, who worked with Zimmerman in Giffords’ Tucson office.
That intensity was evident in every aspect of Zimmerman’s life, including his devotion to his job helping Giffords’ constituents, his search for the perfect engagement ring, his newfound zeal for the Byzantine Empire and his hours spent on the Stairmaster.
“He put his all into his work, he put his all into his life,” Karamargin said.
Zimmerman, 30, died at Giffords’ Congress on Your Corner event, which Zimmerman helped organize.
He joined Giffords’ first congressional campaign in 2006, and joined her staff the following year.
Zimmerman’s mother, Emily Nottingham, said he loved helping constituents solve problems. “He was always a caring child. It was a good career for him,” Nottingham said in her Tucson home.
After graduating from UC Santa Cruz with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, Zimmerman worked for Arizona’s Children, a treatment facility for troubled youth. He earned a master’s degree in social work at Arizona State University.
“Gabe was unfailingly patient with people. He presided over thousands of constituent cases,” Karamargin said. “He was helping World War II vets get medals, people with Medicare benefits, veterans with benefits issues. … He was determined to just do the best he could.”
That determination was evident outside work as well.
“We belong to the same gym, and we would do the stair mill together and, you know, when we were done, I had a couple beads of sweat on my brow and Gabe was drenched,” Karamargin said. “You could count the number of stories you climbed. I would do 132 in 30 minutes — Gabe was, like, 190. He was running up those steps.”
Zimmerman ran marathons and had hiked the Grand Canyon multiple times. In 2012, he planned to marry Katie O’Brien.