Tales of courage have emerged from the horror surrounding the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others at a Tucson, Ariz., shopping center on Jan. 8. The nation marveled at Patricia Maisch, 61, who snatched a round of ammunition away from the gunman, who is alleged to be 22-year-old Jared Loughner, as three passersby tackled him. “She might have saved many, many lives,” said Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik.
And officials praised Daniel Hernandez, 20, a Giffords intern who pushed his way through the crowd to give first aid to his boss. It’s possible that his swift thinking and his training is what saved her life,” said Arizona Rep. Steve Farley.
The harrowing ordeal began when they gunman fired 31 bullets from a Glock 9mm handgun into a crowd gathered to meet Giffords, 40.
One shot hit Gifford; others killed a federal judge, three senior citizens, a Giffords aide and a 9-year-old girl, Christina Green.
Hernandez, who had trained as a certified nursing assistant, rushed to Giffords’ side, pulling her head out of a pool of blood so she could breathe. He used his hands to stop blood gushing from her wounds.
“She was alert and conscious, but she wasn’t able to speak, so the way she was communicating was by grabbing my hand and squeezing,” Hernandez said. He remained with her as paramedics arrived and rode along in the ambulance — “making sure she knew someone was with her and she wasn’t along,” he said.
Meanwhile Maisch, who had attended the event to thank Giffords for being a “brilliant” representative, watched as the shooter, who is alleged to be Loughner, was tackled next to her and heard someone shout, “Get the gun!”
“Then he reached into his left pocket and brought out a magazine. I assumed he was going to try to reload,” Maisch said. When the gunman fumbled with the ammo, “I was able to pick it up,” she says. Witnesses said that as she knelt over the shooter, she was screaming, “Give me the gun!”