Heroes emerge from Rep. Giffords shooting spree

Daniel Hernandez, 20, began interning for Giffords 5 days ago.
Daniel Hernandez, 20, began interning for Giffords 5 days ago.

TUCSON, AZ (KOLD) - The gunman accused of shooting Rep. Gabrielle Gifford and 19 others was trying to reload his semi-automatic weapon, but the efforts of bystanders and a new magazine that failed prevented what Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said could have been "a huge greater catastrophe."

Speaking at a Sunday press conference in Tucson, Dupnik said that suspect Jared Lee Loughner was attempting to change magazines after his initial volley of shots when "a woman went up and grabbed the magazine and tore it away from him while he was trying to put another magazine in."
Loughner then succeeded in loading another magazine but that "fortunately the spring and the magazine failed" and two other civilians were able to get the weapon away from him and subdue him until police came, according to Dupnik.

Giffords' intern, 20-year-old Daniel Hernandez, rushed over to Giffords and her district director Ron Barber who were lying on the pavement with gunshot wounds.

"I don't even know if the gunfire had stopped," he told the Arizona Republic Saturday night at the University Medical Center in Tucson.

Immediately after the shooting he applied pressure to Giffords' wound and pulled her up into his lap, holding her upright, the Republic reported.

Then he instructed another bystander how to apply pressure to the wounds suffered by Giffords' district director Ron Barber.

According to the Republic, Barber told Hernandez, "Make sure you stay with Gabby. Make sure you help Gabby."

Hernandez stayed with Giffords until paramedics arrived. On the ambulance ride to the hospital, he held her hand and she squeezed his back, the paper said.

In a press conference after the shooting, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik described yet another hero.

During the shooting, one woman grabbed a magazine away from the shooter as he was trying to reload. Dupnik stated that a spring on another ammunition magazine, with 31 rounds, that the shooter did manage to insert, then failed.

Dupnik also said the woman was shot as she was taking the magazine away. Two men were then able to subdue the shooter.

A member of Giffords' staff told KOLD New 13 that he talked to Barber in the hospital last night. He said his prognosis is very good, but he is still very much in shock by the events. Barber also reports that he was shot twice.