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2011 Tucson shooting survivor 'frustrated' not much has changed

Gabrielle Giffords
Posted at 4:00 AM, Jun 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-29 15:18:53-04

"Before this was a park, it was a scrubby desert!"

It also happens to be one of Patricia Maisch's favorite places in Tucson, a city she's called home for nearly four decades.

It's not because this park has scenic bike trails, Sonoran Desert landscape, or that it's only five minutes from down the road from her home. For Maisch, this park will always have special meaning because of who and what it honors.

"Christina Taylor Green's 21st birthday is coming up," Maisch explained. "She's been dead longer than she's alive."

At just 9 years old, Christina would become the youngest person to die on Jan. 8, 2011.

That day, a gunman would kill her and five others at a Safeway shopping center on the north side of Tucson. More than a dozen were injured, including former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.

It's a day Maisch and many other Arizonans will never forget - and Maisch wants to make sure of that.

In 2017, Pima County dedicated Christina Taylor Green Memorial Park. Christina's family, survivors like Maisch, and the community, wanted to make sure Christina and the other victims were honored, valued, and remembered for the light they brought into this world.

"One of my friends says it makes the day less hard. It will never take away the harshness, but it makes it less hard."

That Saturday started early for Maisch, who was first in line to meet Congresswoman Giffords. Since no one else was there, she went inside Safeway and roamed the aisles, picking out what she'd buy after meeting Giffords. It was a decision she'd later be thankful for.

"By the time you came back, there were more people in line. Do you feel like that decision saved your life?" ABC15's Nick Ciletti asked.

"I do," said Maisch.

She remembers hearing the first shots and lying on the ground next to the building, hoping the gunman wouldn't see her.

"As you're hearing the bullets fly, did you worry that you would be next?" Ciletti asked.

"I wondered how it would feel. I wondered if I would survive," she said.

But Maisch did survive, and not only that — she's credited with saving lives that day. After two men tackled the gunman, Maisch was able to take the magazine from his hand and even helped restrain him after.

"I couldn't reach the gun, but with his other hand, he was taking another magazine out of his pocket and I was able to take that away from him."

Now, more than a decade later, Maisch is part of a club no one wants to be in - survivors of mass shootings.

She honors those who weren't as fortunate as she was with rubber bracelets that cover her arms. But nothing can cover up the emotional wounds she carries with her.

There's something else Maisch says is even more painful...

"You've poured your heart and soul into this. You've experienced this. And yet we are still in the exact same spot we were," Ciletti said.

"It's very frustrating and very infuriating," she said.