TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - It was a tragic day that struck fear and sadness in the hearts of Tucsonans eight years ago. A 22-year-old man opened fire at then Congresswoman Gabby Giffords' “Congress on Your Corner” event. As a result, six people were killed and 13 people were injured.
That day when Tucson resident Mary Reed thought she was simply going with her family to the event, since her daughter had been a page for Giffords over the summer, is one that she unfortunately will never forget.
“January 8th was really a beautiful day here. Sunny, cool, crisp,” Reed said.
She says that while she and her family were in line they were talking to a few people near them. That’s when the gunshots rang out.
"My brain didn’t know what was happening but my body knew and threw my 17-year-old daughter against the wall and I covered her with my body. I’d already been hit in the left arm by a ricochet but I didn’t really process any of that,” she said.
After that, the already horrible situation got worse. The shooter approached Reed and her daughter, aiming to shoot her daughter in the head.
“I had her between my body and the wall and he stood behind me, less than two feet away, and tried to shoot her head between my arm."
It’s what comes after that moment that’s truly remarkable. Courageously, Reed turned around to confront the shooter. In the midst of it all she was shot three times.
Finally, the shooter was stopped by another woman, Pat Maisch.
"Fortunately Pat Maisch stepped up and grabbed the fresh magazine out of his hand and two of our retirees leaped over me and tackled this armed 21-year-old,” Reed said.
The shooting was over, but its impact on Reed’s life lives on.
“It took months until my wounds actually closed up and then I had to go to physical therapy because I have a bullet at L1," she said. Today that bullet is still there and Reed says it’s likely that it will be in her body for the rest of her life - a permanent remnant of an incredibly difficult day.
"No one will remove it. I’ve gone to doctor after doctor and they all say it’s too dangerous to remove it.”
Reed has not let that stop her though. She now works as an organizer for TEDxTucson and she’s also turned adversity into impact, by becoming a gun control lobbyist and a member of Everytown for Gun Safety as a Survivor Fellow.