'Man of action' helped capture Giffords' suspected shooter

Bill and Sallie Badger
Bill and Sallie Badger

By Mark Stine - email

Tucson, AZ (KOLD) - Bill Badger, who was at Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords event Saturday morning and nearly lost his life, considers himself lucky.

"There was just a series of shots and I heard the shots and my first reaction was a firecracker, they were extremely loud," Badger explained.

When those shots started, Badger was in the back of the line of about 20 people he says were waiting in line to meet Giffords.

"He'd already shot Representative Gabrielle Giffords and was shooting the people sitting in the chairs, coming right towards where I was standing.  Everybody was hitting the sidewalk and I turned to my left and started to drop and I felt the stinging in the back of my head," Badger said.

That sting was a bullet.  Injured and bleeding, Badger gathered the strength to fight back.

"The shooting stopped and I raised up and didn't realize it, but he was right beside me.  Right in front of me.  And I got to my feet and one of the individuals who was there to see her was on the other side of the walkway, you know, right where he was walking and that individual took a folding chair, folded it and hit him on the back of the head and he moved his head forward so much of the blunt of it came right on the shoulders of his back and when they did that his left arm came out and it was my opportunity.  

"I grabbed his left arm and started to twist it back and grabbed him on the shoulder with my right hand another individual grabbed his right hand and together we pushed on him and he went right down on the sidewalk."

With blood dripping from his face, he held on to the shooter until deputies arrived.  

"I had a hold of his throat and the guy on the other side had his knee right on the back of his neck, and every time he would struggle, I would squeeze his throat and the guy would put pressure on the back of his neck."

Once his hands were free, he was able to tend to his own gunshot wound and take in what had just happened.

"I stood up and looked to my right when all these people were laying, very badly, most of them unconscious or so laying there at my feet.  It seemed like everyone had a mate trying to revive the other one."

When paramedics arrived and started transporting patients by helicopter, Bill called his wife.

"Bill called and said 'I'm shot, I'm shot' and I said 'What do you mean?'  It was simply surreal," Sallie Badger explained.

She quickly made her way to the St. Mary's Hospital to see her injured husband.

"I didn't see the wound on the back of his head, I saw his entire face covered with blood, pouring down one side of his face," she told us.

After hearing his tale, Sallie said it didn't surprise her at all.

"The only thing that would have surprised me, is that if he would not have done this.  Bill is a man of action."