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Tucson memorial moves forward on 7th anniversary of shooting that injured Gabrielle Giffords

Posted at 7:05 AM, Jan 08, 2018

Seven years after the January 8th, 2011 mass shooting, the official, community-funded memorial will move forward into the development phase.

"It's very special," survivor Patricia Maisch said. "It's a community coming together to remember 6 people that were murdered on January 8th, and the 13 that were wounded, and the whole community affected in some way by an unnecessary tragedy."

On that January morning in 2011, Maisch was in line at the Safeway at Ina and Oracle to meet Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

"It can seem like moments ago, and it can seem like ages ago," she said. "It's just one of those things that you think will never happen to you. But somehow, it does."

During the attack, she was able to grab a magazine out of the shooter's hand as he tried to reload, helping end it.

Every anniversary since then has been tough, she said, and she anticipates they always will be. However, this year's comes with a bittersweet victory. The land for the official, community-funded memorial will be dedicated Monday morning at El Presidio Park.

"The whole community has given anywhere from 50 cents to -- I don't know what the top was -- I know there was a hundred thousand dollar contribution," she said.

This project has been years in the making, but the road hasn't been very smooth. Last year, legislators voted down a bill that allocated $2.5 million of state money to fund the project. But thanks to generous donations from people in the community, the memorial will be created.

Once the memorial is created, she hopes people will stop and take a moment honor everyone affected by the tragedy.

"We don't say we move on. We've incorporated that horrible event into our lives in some way," she said. "We're looking beyond Tucson. We don't move away from it, but we look beyond it and celebrate their lives."

State Representative Dr. Randall Friese was a trauma surgeon at the time of the tragedy. He operated on many of the victims, including Congresswoman Giffords. Thinking back to the day of the shooting and the days that followed it, he still remembers the incredible support from the community.

"There was a wonderful outpouring of love and support right in front of the hospital," he said. "I would take care of the victims, go to my office and look out the window and see right outside of the hospital the flowers and the candles and the placards that collected there."

He believes this memorial will honor the victims, the survivors, and the Tucson community.

"One of the beautiful things about the design of the memorial is that it also reflects the response from the community, and how the community came together, and how the community came together to support the families of those who were injured and killed," Friese said. "How we immediately recognized that we need to remember, remember these people who were killed simply just living their lives."

Tucson's January 8th Foundation anticipates breaking ground on the project in about a year.

The dedication is set for Monday morning at 9:30, at El Presidio Park. Among the speakers will be Congresswoman Giffords and fellow survivor Ron Barber.