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Friday, December 8, 2023 | Back issues
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Graphic Testimony at|Colorado Gun-Control Trial

DENVER (CN) - A witness to the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords testified Tuesday at a trial challenging the constitutionality of three Colorado gun-control laws. Giffords' campaign volunteer Roger Salzgeber described what he saw on Jan. 8, 2011, when Jared Loughner shot Giffords in the head, killed a federal judge and five others, and wounded 18 at a meet-and-greet on a Tucson street corner.

Among those shot to death was a 9-year-old girl. Giffords survived but has retired from Congress.

On the seventh day of the trial, Salzgeber said it all started with a phone call from Giffords, telling him she had not seen him since the victory party for her campaign. He said she told him she hoped he would come to the event and say hello.

Salzgeber said a couple was just about to get their picture taken with the congresswoman when he saw a man running across the road in front of the Safeway, where the event was being held.

Loughner ran to within 8 or 10 feet of the congresswoman and shot her in the head, then swung around and kept shooting.

"He swung around and kept firing incredibly fast," Salzgeber said. "It sounded like someone had thrown a string of fireworks."

He said Loughner was indiscriminate. "He just went right down the line of chairs of people and shot them at point blank."

Salzgeber and a man named Bill Badger brought the slaughter to an end.

"He [Loughner] was about six to 8 feet in front of me and I got up. ... The assailant was tackled in the front by Mr. Badger and I tackled him from behind as he was trying to reload," Salzgeber testified.

"The assailant fell on his right side and had his gun, which was in his right hand. His gun slid on the sidewalk two or three feet away of him. I remember Mr. Badger was bleeding out of his head. He was bleeding on my sleeve."

Once Loughner had been tackled, Salzgeber said, "He did not put up any real resistance."

When Salzgeber finished his account, defense attorney LeeAnn Morrill asked him to compare the media coverage of the trial with what he remembered.

"Well, they got the names of the people and the name of those injured correct," Salzgeber said. "Some of it was correct; some of it was way off base."

Plaintiffs' attorney Richard Westfall cross-examined Salzgeber briefly.

He asked whether Loughner's gun fell in the locked position and what another shooting witness said about what happened.

Salzgeber said he did not know what the other witness said, but that "I know what I saw."

The defense is expected to rest today or Thursday. U.S. District Marcia Krieger is presiding.

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