On January 8, 2011, Army veteran Bill Badger stepped in and stopped Jared Loughner’s shooting spree at a grocery store parking lot in Tucson, Arizona. Loughner killed six and injured 13 others that day. One of those injured was then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who is still recovering from injuries sustained on that day.
According to CBS News, Bill Badger passed away Wednesday at the age of 78 after a bout with pneumonia. His wife, Sallie Badger, confirmed her husband’s passing.
Giffords issued a statement, via Tucson News Now, on the death of Badger.
“I’m so sad to learn that Bill Badger has passed away. Bill was not only a great man and a proud Army veteran, he was a hero.”
Giffords also noted in her statement that Badger had received a head injury on the day of the shooting, but he didn’t let that stop him.
“Not even pausing to realize he had been injured, Bill ran towards the shooter and towards danger so that he could help subdue him until the authorities arrived. I believe that Bill helped save lives that morning. And I will always be grateful to him for his selfless, brave actions.”
Giffords is not the only one remembering Badger and honoring him for his actions on that day.
S. AZ lost a true hero yesterday. My prayers are with the family and friends of Bill Badger, who helped stop the Jan 8. shooter in Tucson.
— Martha McSally (@RepMcSally) March 12, 2015
Bill Badger’s bravery on Jan. 8, 2011 saved countless lives. Arizonans will forever be grateful for his heroism. http://t.co/ROFmWv0AEo
— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) March 12, 2015
A true hero in every sense of the word: Bill Badger dies; tackled Jared Loughner after attack on Gabrielle Giffords http://t.co/fQPBVwZEhv
— Pam (@pam_mangas) March 12, 2015
Just days after the 2011 shooting, Badger was interviewed by the Arizona Republic about the incident and what happened after he intervened. As Badger recalled, Loughner was in the middle of reloading when he and another person decided to tackle the gunman. Badger placed Loughner in a chokehold, and the other person placed his knee on the gunman’s neck.
“The guy’s face was in the cement, and every time he would move, I would tighten my grip on his throat and this individual would push harder with his knee and all he (the gunman) said was, ‘Ow, ow, ow, ow.’ “
Though Badger has been called a hero by Giffords and many others, he didn’t see himself as one.
“I don’t consider myself a hero. I did what anybody would do. I think my military background made me react, and the timing was essential.”
[Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]