USA — Retired Guard Member Helps Subdue Arizona Gunman

RAPID CITY, S.D., Jan. 12, 2011 — A retired South Dako­ta Nation­al Guard offi­cer was one of the bystanders who sub­dued the gun­man who alleged­ly killed six peo­ple and shot U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Gif­fords in Tuc­son, Ariz., Jan. 8.

Bill Bad­ger, 74, a for­mer Army colonel who now lives in the Tuc­son area, tack­led sus­pect Jared Lough­n­er, although Bad­ger him­self was wound­ed by one of the rounds fired dur­ing the shoot­ing.

Bad­ger said his mil­i­tary train­ing took over after he was shot and then faced the sus­pect­ed shoot­er. While liv­ing in Pierre, S.D., from 1965 to 1973, he served in the South Dako­ta Nation­al Guard, fly­ing heli­copters and fixed-wing air­craft. Three of his chil­dren — sons Tim and Brady Bad­ger and daugh­ter Jody Hard­wick — still live in Pierre, and anoth­er, Lon­nie Bad­ger, lives in Sioux Falls, S.D.

The for­mer Guard mem­ber said he com­mu­ni­cates reg­u­lar­ly with Gif­fords and her staff, and he was invit­ed to attend the event the con­gress­woman was hold­ing in a super­mar­ket park­ing lot. He said he was wait­ing to speak with Gif­fords and was talk­ing with oth­er peo­ple when he heard the shots, he said.

Gif­fords, a fed­er­al judge, and a 9‑year-old girl already had been shot when he saw what was hap­pen­ing, Bad­ger said.

“He was just com­ing right down the line. He was­n’t walk­ing. He was just aim­ing and just shoot­ing every­body that was sit­ting in a chair there,” Bad­ger said. “Some of them who were being hit were falling over, and the rest start­ed to hit the pave­ment.”

As he tried to get to the ground, Bad­ger said, he felt “a burn­ing sen­sa­tion” in the back of his head and knew he had been hit by a bul­let. Once he heard the shoot­ing stop, he added, he stood up and saw the sus­pect stand­ing in front of him, going right to left.

As the sus­pect walked past by him, Bad­ger said, some­one hit the alleged assailant with a fold­ing chair. At the same time, he recalled, Bad­ger and anoth­er man grabbed the sus­pect by the arms and shoul­ders, push­ing him to the pave­ment, and kept him there until police arrived.

Dur­ing the take­down, Bad­ger said, he saw the sus­pect try to throw away a small plas­tic bag full of mon­ey and per­son­al iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, Bad­ger said, and he point­ed out the bag to law enforce­ment offi­cers.

Bad­ger, one of 19 peo­ple injured in the shoot­ing, said he did­n’t have time to wor­ry about being killed, and that his mil­i­tary train­ing took over. He stressed that he does­n’t con­sid­er him­self to be a hero, and just did what any­one would have done.

“I have to be the luck­i­est per­son in the world,” he said. “Some indi­vid­ual told me I should go and buy a lot­tery tick­et. I said, ‘I just won the lot­tery by not being killed.’ ” Tim Bad­ger said he and his sib­lings are proud of their father and thank­ful he was not seri­ous­ly hurt.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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