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Tucson 911 call excerpts: 'He just started firing'

911 callers in Arizona shooting tell of sudden gunfire, confusion, multiple victims, a man fleeing.

January 10, 2011|By Rong-Gong Lin II and Sam Quinones, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Los Angeles and Tucson — Moments after a gunman in Tucson shot 18 people, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, people screamed and rushed to aid the wounded. A man said, "This is a nightmare" and a guy "just started firing." In the background, the injured can be heard moaning in pain amid yells of "Oh, no!"

Sally Badger, her voice quivering, told the 911 operator: "My husband just called me and told me he was shot … and I don't know where he is."

The Pima County Sheriff's Department released the 911 tapes of the 10:10 a.m. shooting:

Operator: 911. Where is the emergency?

Caller: Mrs. Giffords!

Operator: Hello? Hello!

Caller: Uh, 911, there was a shooting at Safeway.

Operator: OK, what do you mean?

Caller: At Ina. At Ina and Oracle. Where Gabrielle Giffords was. And people who were with Gabby Giffords was hit.

Operator: At Safeway, sir?

Caller: Yes, Safeway.…You OK?

Overheard: I am, I am.

Operator: Was somebody shot then, sir?

Caller: Yes. It looked like the guy had a semiautomatic pistol. And he went in. He just started firing. And then he ran. We got …

Operator: Which way did he run?

Caller: Uh, he ran north, past the Walgreens, that's right next to the Safeway.

Operator: Can you describe him?

Caller: What?

Operator: Can you describe him, sir? What was he wearing?

Caller: He was wearing a hoodie.

Operator: What color was the hoodie?

Caller: It was black.

Operator: OK. What color were his pants?

Caller: It looked like he was wearing blue jeans. And it looked like he was wearing a black sweater.

Operator: OK. Is anybody injured? Did you say Gabrielle Giffords is hit?

Caller: Um, she is hit.

Operator: OK.

Caller: I do believe she is breathing.

Overheard: She is breathing.

Caller: She is breathing.

Overheard: She has a pulse.

Caller: She still has a pulse. And we've got a few people — and we've got one dead. And there are injured.

Operator: OK. And there's other people injured?

Caller: There are other people. There is multiple people shot.

Operator: OK. … Oh, my God.

Caller: This is a nightmare.

Caller: You OK, sir? We've got help coming. … We've got more. … Sorry, I'm trying to help and I'm trying to talk at the same time.

Operator: Thank you, sir. I believe we have someone detained outside. I'm going to answer some other 911 calls now.

In another tape, a woman describes receiving a call from her husband, but the call is quickly cut off.

Caller: My husband just called me and told me he was shot. He went to the Gabrielle Giffords, um, whatever they were doing today, and I don't know where he is.

Operator: OK. Hold on. We do have reports of that. We do have deputies on the scene. I just want to get some information from you.

Caller: OK. (heavy breathing). I don't know where he is. I don't know where the site is.

Operator: It's Safeway at Ina and Oracle.

Caller: OK.

Operator: Your husband was shot?

Caller: That's what he said. He just called.

Operator: OK.

Caller: And then the phone went dead.

As it turned out, her husband, Bill, was grazed on the back of his head by the bullet and helped detain the shooter. He is home recovering.

Lin reported from Los Angeles and Quinones from Tucson.

Times staff writer Rick Rojas in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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