Police have credited a 61-year-old woman who has never held a gun with an act of courage that saved the life of the US congress member and many others.
Patricia Maisch told The Times yesterday how she lay against the wall preparing to die. The queue to meet Ms Giffords on Sunday (AEDT) became a row of people waiting to be shot. The gunman had shot the woman next to her; she was next. “I wondered how bad it was going to be and what it was going to feel like,” she said.
She had made a split-second decision: running would make her a target, so she dropped to the ground and waited to be shot.
There was silence, then a crash. A man had hit the gunman with a fold-up chair, knocking him to the ground. Retired army colonel Bill Badger, 74, already grazed in the head by a bullet, got on top of the gunman, trying to pin him down by the neck. Mrs Maisch said “the shooter was on the ground, almost on top of me”.
Someone shouted: “Get the gun!” She rolled on top of him. “The gun was in his right hand,” she said. “It was just out of reach, but I saw he was using his left hand to get a second clip out of his pocket to reload. I grabbed the clip.”
She can’t remember speaking, but the men she was helping recalled her shouting: “Why did you do this? Why did you do this?”
She asked someone to sit on the gunman while she sought a bandage for Colonel Badger’s head. Then she called her husband. “He said I was crying. I didn’t quite understand what I was saying.”