January 19, 2011
Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik found himself in the national spotlight after he decried political rhetoric "about hatred, about mistrust of government, about paranoia about how government operates" at a press conference on the day of the shooting.
Later in the week, Dupnik made it clear that he wasn't backing down on his call for the nation to "do a little soul-searching." At the Jan. 12 memorial for the victim's of the shootings, he said: "I said what I thought. I don't have an agenda. I didn't say it for any particular political purpose."
"If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let's make sure it's worthy of those we have lost. Let's make sure it's not on the usual plane of politics and point-scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle.
"The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better in our private lives—to be better friends and neighbors, co-workers and parents. And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let's remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy, but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud. It should be because we want to live up to the example of public servants like John Roll and Gabby Giffords, who knew first and foremost that we are all Americans, and that we can question each other's ideas without questioning each other's love of country, and that our task, working together, is to constantly widen the circle of our concern so that we bequeath the American Dream to future generations."
—President Barack Obama, Jan. 12, 2011
"When I heard there were gunshots, my first instinct, assuming there was a gun, is that Congresswoman Giffords would likely be a target," says Daniel Hernandez Jr., an intern who raced to her side in the moments after she was shot. "I wanted to make sure she was OK."
Hernandez has dismissed talk that he was a hero: "I don't think that's a good term. This is a one-off. The people who have dedicated their lives to public service are the real heroes, like Gabby, Ron Barber, Gabe Zimmerman and Pam Simon. They are the real heroes."