Monday, January 10, 2011

Tragedy in Tucson

Hi folks. 

It's been a crazy weekend here in Tucson.  If you haven't heard, there was a shooting at a Safeway grocery store Saturday morning at 10 am, where our local Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was holding a Congress on Your Corner to meet the public.  Six people died and another 13 were injured.  The gunman, 22 year old man, was taken down by 2 of the people there, before police showed up.  He shot the Congresswoman point blank in the face and she had surgery on Saturday to remove part of her skull to let the swelling go down.  The bullet exited her head, but it did do some serious damage.  Currently, she is on a ventilator and responding to small commands (i.e. squeeze hands, thumbs up, etc.).  The doctors at University Medical Center have her in a medically induced coma, which they bring her out of to check her status every-so-often. 

The other victims that died were:
Christina Taylor Green - age 9.  Christina was born on 9/11/01.  She had recently been elected to her student council.  Her neighbors invited her to go so she could see some real-life politics.  They were also injured.

Judge John Roll - age 63.  Judge Roll was a Federal Judge for Arizona District Court.  He showed up at the rally to support his friend, Gabrielle Giffords.

Gabe Zimmerman - age 30.  Gabe was Gabrielle Gifford's aid.  His job was community outreach.  He was my age and had recently gotten engaged. 

Phyllis Schneck - age 79.  Phyllis spent her winters in Tucson from New Jersey. She was active in her church and not politically active according to

Dorwin Stoddard - age 76.  Dorwin died shielding his wife from the barrage of bullets. Mavanell "Mavy" Stoddard, 75, was shot in the leg several times but is expected to recover.  Dorwin and Mavy were high school sweethearts who married later in life after their spouses had passed away.  They were both leaders in their church ministry and stopped by to tell the Congresswoman what a good job she was doing.

Dorothy Morris - age 76.  Dorothy and husband, George, went to see Gabby Giffords and were caught in the crossfire.  Dorothy was declared dead on the scene, while her husband remains in critical condition at the University Medical Center in Tucson.  Dorothy and George were high school sweethearts as well, but married early in life.  She was a secretary and a home-maker, while he is a former pilot for United Airlines and a retired Marine.

Now a little bit about where this grocery store is located.  J worked at this grocery store while he was in school, along with many friends who we still talk to.  My parents frequent this grocery store at least once a week.  Thankfully, they usually go Saturday night after church.  And, J's Dad works for Safeway and visits this store when he comes to town to check up on his department.  Thankfully, he wasn't there this day.  

For us, this hits really close to home. 

So where was I Saturday?  I happened to be at a baby shower at a friend's house whose husband (now a firefighter) used to work with J at this very Safeway.  As people started arriving at the shower, my friend got a call from her husband (who wasn't working at the time) and was making sure not only that she wasn't there, but to let her know what happened.  We immediately turned the TV on to see what was being reported.  There were a couple other people at the party whose husbands were cops or who were cops themselves.  So we were getting initial reports there.  From those reports we heard that Gabrielle Giffords had been shot in the face at point blank range and was declared dead on scene.  When my friend's husband arrived after the shower, we learned that initially they thought Congresswoman Giffords was dead, but upon further assessment she was in fact alive.  She was immediately airvac'd to University Medical Center and in surgery about 40 minutes after arrival.  

This is all over the news and we get updates whenever something new is revealed.  Apparently the shooter is -- I have no words -- but the media is calling him mentally unstable.  How can anyone wake up and decide that they are going to assassinate someone?  I just can't wrap my head around something so horrid!  He has been charged with attempted assassination of a member of Congress as they found items at his home that show this was premeditated.

The story as I understand it is this.  The Congresswoman was set up outside the entrance of Safeway and people were lined up to shake her hand and exchange a few words.  The shooter apparently asked to speak to Gabby Giffords and was nicely told to wait his turn in line.  He proceeded to the end of the line and after a few moments, with a look of determination on his face, ran to the front while firing a few shots.  He then shot Congresswoman Giffords in the face at point-blank range and proceeded to empty his clip of 31 bullets of his 9-millimeter Glock that had a larger clip that usual.  As he attempted to change the clip (to the 2nd one of 31 bullets), a woman grabbed it out of his hand.  The shooter then loaded a third clip of 31 bullets into the gun but the spring (?) got stuck and wouldn't fire.  It was at that point that the shooter was tackled by two nearby civilians and held until police arrived and arrested him.  As far as I know, he hasn't said anything.  His last message on MySpace said, "Goodbye friends...don't be mad at me."  The below video is a good account of everything that I have noted above.


As you might imagine, Tucson is stunned by this.  I did venture to a different grocery store yesterday and it was all people could talk about.  It's all over all the news here and from what people have told me, all over the country.  It was on Dateline NBC last night, which we caught a bit of, but then we had another issue to deal with last night (see the next post).  It's very scary to see my hometown all over national news.  I cringe when I hear "Tragedy in Tucson" on anything.  It's very sad.

I did hear one good thing this morning.  A friend of mine from high school is an anesthesiologist at UMC.  She was there when this all happened on Saturday and she posted this on her Facebook page this morning:

"Last night, I was back in the hospital OR, doing a lung transplant. Before putting him to sleep, I told my patient that I would take good care of him. He replied "I know. This is the place where you guys saved all those peoples' lives. I trust you." Amazing work, doctors, nurses and employees of UMC. I am so proud to call you all my colleagues and friends."

I don't quite know how to categorize this. But hopefully people will learn from this incident that politics aren't worth someone's life and to be more compassionate.  I'm still without on how to understand this whole thing.

One of our local radio stations in town talked to many of the people at the event this morning.  I urge you to listen to some of the interviews, including one from the mother of the 9-year-old who died at the event and one from the woman who helped disarm the shooter.  Click here.

So dear Bleaders, what I want to say is that yes this is my hometown and please keep Tucson in your prayers.  I would say all affected, but that is all of Tucson I believe.  Obviously, those who lost loved ones or are injured need prayers too.  Please keep us in your thoughts and I'll do my best to let you know if I hear anything else, but I have a feeling the media will be reporting a lot for a long time about this.

Stay safe and God Bless.


1 comment:

  1. So sad. I was out of town for my sister-in-law's baby shower when I heard it. We technically live in Vail, but I still work in Tucson, and still consider it "home" (who really knows of Vail, AZ anyway?). My heart goes out to those families who lost loved ones, but I'm glad to hear that you and your friends who have connections to the store are safe.


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