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Honoring the Victims and Heroes of the Shooting on January 8, 2011, in Tucson, Arizona

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. KYL. Mr. President, yesterday I spoke to the events of January 8 in Tucson, AZ, specifically referencing the people we are honoring by the resolution that is before us today. At 2:30 this afternoon, we will have an opportunity to act as a body, Democrats and Republicans from all parts of our country, to recognize the people who were injured, the families of those who were killed, and, of course, the heroes of the tragic Tucson shooting.

On that morning of January 8, Representative Gabrielle Giffords arrived at a Tucson Safeway store for her ``Congress on Your Corner'' event. She was there to meet with constituents, which is something she enjoyed doing very much. This was the first such event of the year. She had hosted others previously.

She was joined by members of her staff. Among them were Pam Simon, Ron Barber, Gabriel Zimmerman, and Daniel Hernandez, an intern. They stood alongside as Congresswoman Giffords greeted her constituents who had lined up to speak with her. One of those individuals was Judge John Roll, chief judge of the U.S. District Court of Arizona, a personal friend of mine. Like most mornings, he had attended mass. Then he decided to stop by the Safeway to thank the Congresswoman for her assistance in dealing with the court's overwhelming caseload. Also attending the event was 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, who, like Congresswoman Giffords, had recently won elected office. This third grader had recently been elected to the student council by Mesa Verde Elementary School. Dorothy Morris and her husband George, a retired marine, were attending the event together. And Phyllis Schneck, a great grandmother who spent the winters in Tucson but was actually from New Jersey, was there as well, as were Dorwan and Mavy Stoddard. As all of these people were waiting to speak to Congresswoman Giffords, a gunman approached and shot the Congresswoman in the head, then turning his gun on the others in line. Gabriel Zimmerman, Judge Roll, Christina-Taylor Green, Dorothy Morris, Phyllis Schneck, and Dorwan Stoddard were all killed. George Morris, Mavy Stoddard, Pamela Simon, Ron Barber, and the Congresswoman were injured, along with eight others.

Those who were killed had much more to offer in their lives.

Gabe, the Congresswoman's director of community outreach, was only 30 years old. He was engaged to be married. According to news reports, he was killed while rushing to assist others. He worked closely with my Tucson staff.

Judge Roll was not only a very distinguished and respected jurist but was known most of all in the Tucson community for his kindness and courtesy. He was killed as he tried to protect Ron Barber, who had been shot just moments before.

Christina-Taylor Green, as I mentioned, was only 9 years old, a third grader.

Dorothy Morris was married for 50 years to George, and he was injured trying to protect his wife. The couple has two daughters. I met one of them when I visited with George in the facility in which he is recuperating, where I was last Friday.

Phyllis, like others in this group, was a volunteer at her church. She was also known for her cooking.

Dorwan Stoddard I mentioned was also a church volunteer, and he, too, was shot as he dove to the ground to cover his wife, who escaped with wounds to her legs. I had an opportunity to visit with her again Friday as well.

As we know, the gunman was prepared to take more lives. His plans for more bloodshed were thwarted by brave and selfless citizens. Their stories have been documented in the media in the past few weeks, but a few of their heroic acts are worth recounting here.

After a bullet grazed his head and took him to the ground, Bill Badger, a 74-year-old retired Army colonel--and in good shape, I might add--got up and he helped hold the gunman down until the police arrived.

Anna Ballis was shopping that morning at Safeway. She was leaving the store when the shooting began. According to reports, she rushed to the aid of Barber after a bullet hit an artery in his leg. Anna is the mother of two U.S. marines who have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan multiple times. I mentioned yesterday visiting Ron Barber in the hospital, holding Anna's hand, repeating over and over again how she had saved his life.

Such multiple acts of bravery and kindness.

Daniel Hernandez was in the gallery at the State of the Union speech last night. He is a 21-year-old intern for Congresswoman Giffords. He rushed to her aid right after the incident. He had some training in first aid and applied pressure to her wounds, which prevented her from bleeding more than she did. He stayed with her even after emergency service personnel arrived.

Sixty-one-year-old Patricia Maisch grabbed the magazine of additional ammunition the gunman was hoping to reload in his weapon and then administered first aid to a shooting victim.

Steve Rayle, a doctor and former emergency room physician, helped subdue the gunman until law enforcement arrived, and then he, too, helped to care for the injured.

As the gunman was trying to reload his weapon, Roger Salzgeber wrestled him down from behind.

Joseph Zamudio ran toward the scene from a nearby store when he heard the shots being fired and helped subdue the gunman again until law enforcement officers arrived.

We are obviously grateful for these acts of bravery. We are proud of the people I have mentioned but also all of the emergency workers who quickly arrived on the scene and provided lifesaving aid and comfort to the injured in the very crucial moments following the attack.

I must mention also the incredible team of professionals, the surgeons and other highly skilled personnel at University Medical Center. We are proud of that facility in southern Arizona, and they certainly showed their competence in dealing with all of the wounded and some who died.

It has now been more than 2 weeks since the tragedy, and the families who lost loved ones are obviously still grieving. We all pray that they find comfort in the days ahead, and we hope and pray that the wounded will soon make full recoveries. In recent days, we have received some good news in that regard as those who were wounded are beginning to recover and leave the hospital. Our friend and colleague Gabby Giffords, although she remains in serious condition, we are heartened to hear positive reports from her doctors, and we wish her the very best as she begins a new phase of her recovery in Houston.

The tragedy in Tucson was a shock to us all. It is difficult to comprehend that such horror could be visited upon such fine individuals and their families. In some respects, however, we see once again how it has brought out the best in good people.

In honor of the victims and the heroes of this tragic event, Senator McCain and I ask our colleagues in the Senate to pass S. Res. 14. We can do little to bring solace to those who lost loved ones, but we can affirm that this body is united in its grief for the fallen, its admiration for the heroes, and prayers for the injured.

Mr. President, I note the absence of a quorum.


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