Daniel Hernandez had been U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ intern for five days when she was shot Saturday outside Tucson.
The junior at the University of Arizona was helping check people in at the “Congress on Your Corner” event when he heard gunfire. He was about 30 feet from the congresswoman. When the shots began, he ran toward them.
Hernandez, an unpaid intern who hadn’t even finished his first week on the job, ran toward the shooting. He administered first aid, never worrying that his clothes were soaked through with blood (until his family brought him clean clothes and the FBI took the old ones as evidence). And thanks to his selflessness and bravery, Representative Giffords is alive:
The fact that Hernandez was nearby and able to react quickly probably saved Giffords’ life, said state Rep. Matt Heinz, D-Tucson,  a hospital physician. He talked to Hernandez at the hospital after the shooting.
Shooter Jared Loughner’s home safe included files which, according to an FBI affidavit, indicated his plan was to assassinate Giffords, but authorities have not described any motive. Loughner seems to have walked out of the supermarket where he’d gotten change for his taxi driver, then shot Giffords in the left forehead, and fired at the crowd. A woman wounded in the opening barrage of gunfire fought with Loughner as he tried to reload. Before he could begin firing again, other bystanders subdued him.
The selflessness and courage is astonishing.
The incomprehensible madness of the shooting, though, is best represented by the death of 9 year-old Christina Greene. The 4th grader was born on a day of tragedy, September 11, 2001, and was featured in Faces of Hope, a book about the babies born on that day. She was recently elected to her school’s student council, and her family remembers her as a lover of horses, ballet, swimming, and baseball. Her grandfather was a Major League pitcher, her father is a scout for the Dodgers, and Christina was the only girl on her Little League team.
She was at the supermarket that day because a neighbor, knowing of Christina’s political victory at school, took her to visit her Congresswoman. Jared Loughner shot her after putting a bullet through his elected Representative’s head.
Our world is impoverished by the loss of Christina Greene, of judge John Roll, of Gabriel Zimmerman (Rep. Giffords’s community outreach director), Dorwin Stoddard (who died sheltering his wife from bullets), Dorothy Murray, and Philip Scheck. Fourteen others were wounded – including two other aides to Giffords – as was the nation as a whole.