Three Story Lines from Tuscon..

… to consider:

Consider the story of Retired Colonel Bill Badger:

“There was just a series of shots and I heard the shots and my first reaction was a firecracker, they were extremely loud,” Badger told CBS affiliate KOLD in Tucson. “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.”

That sting was a bullet wound. But Badger pressed on.

“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,” Badger told KOLD.

“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.”

Badger and the other man pinned the suspect to the ground until police arrived.

“Anytime he would even start to move, I would tighten my grip on his throat, and the other guy would put more pressure on his neck to hold him down,” Badger said. “And he’d holler, ‘Oh, oh, you’re hurting me! Oh, oh,’ – like that. And that guy said, ‘I don’t give a [expletive].'”

Badger’s wife added – “The only thing that would have surprised me is that if he would not have done this.”

Also, there is the story of the trauma surgeon, Dr. Peter Rhee, who worked to save Representative Gabrielle Giffords – “Dr. Peter Rhee, a 24-year military surgeon who has treated “hundreds and hundreds” of battlefield injuries during stints in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Rhee, 49, chief of trauma at University Medical Center in Tucson, said his work in the Navy tending to injured soldiers and Marines and teaching the next generation of battlefield medical personnel unquestionably played a role in his ability to treat Giffords and direct care for the 10 other victims who began arriving in his unit Saturday morning.

“There’s no doubt,” he said. “I was in the Navy 24 years, and I trained to do nothing but battlefield casualty care. When I did go to Afghanistan and Iraq, I wasn’t in a hospital. I was in very forward surgical units, so I was very accustomed to working with very little gear and people and personnel, very little resources, with wounds that are very different than civilian injuries,” Rhee said Sunday. “Did it prepare me? I would say of course it did. And that makes it so that when we have a mass casualty of 11 people here, it’s really not as bad as it can get.”

Rhee said he handled “hundreds and hundreds” of battlefield injuries in two war deployments beginning in 2001. He was one of the first battlefield surgeons to be deployed to Camp Rhino, the first U.S. land base in Afghanistan, located in the remote desert about 100 miles southwest of Kandahar. In 2005, he served in Iraq.

“This doesn’t compare,” he said of his university hospital environs. “This is not really a mass casualty. I have all the gear and people I could possibly want. This is luxury for me. This trauma center, this is about as good as it gets.”

In contrast, within in a few hours (or was is minutes) of the shooting, State Senator Linda Lopez was quick to associate the assailant with the Tea Party and even identify him as a “Afghan War vet.”   I’d link in a web site here for the time stamp and exact quote, but remarkably the news item has been pulled from most sites.  The only place I find it today is on posts calling for an apology from Lopez.

I see three people, each responding to different aspects of a tragedy.   Each responding in their own way.

I don’t want to assume anything here, and would certainly give the benefit of doubt to Senator Lopez.  If I were Lopez, I’d at least want to hold a press conference to clear some things up.

-Craig.

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