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Tucson Shooting Survivor: “It Looks Like Palin, Beck, Sharron Angle and the Rest Got Their First Target”

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We speak with Tucson shooting survivor Eric Fuller. A 63-year-old disabled veteran, Fuller had campaigned for Arizona Democrat Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in her reelection campaign and was at the supermarket in Tucson on Saturday to meet with her. He was shot in the knee and also wounded in the back. “It looks like Palin, Beck, Sharron Angle and the rest got their first target,” Fuller says. “Their wish for Second Amendment activism has been fulfilled.” [includes rush transcript]

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StoryJan 10, 2011Chip Berlet on “The Becking of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords”
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZALEZ: The youngest victim of the Arizona shooting rampage has been laid to rest. More than 2,000 people packed into a Tucson church, and hundreds more lined the road outside, to remember nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green. The third-grade student was born on September 11th, 2001. She had recently been elected to her school’s student council. Her funeral was the first for the six people killed last week when alleged gunman Jared Loughton opened fire at a Tucson grocery store in an apparent assassination attempt of Congressmember Gabrielle Giffords.

The shooting has sparked a national debate across the country about political rhetoric. Many have pointed to a controversial map issued by former Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin that included crosshairs on various Democratic districts, including Giffords’. In a tweet at the time, Palin urged supporters, quote, “Don’t Retreat-RELOAD!”

Giffords won reelection in a tight race against her Tea Party-backed Republican opponent Jesse Kelly, a former Marine who served in Iraq. In June, Kelly promoted a campaign event on his website that read, quote, “Get on Target for Victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly.”

AMY GOODMAN: Critics have also pointed to comments made by the former Republican candidate for Senate from Nevada, Sharron Angle. Angle came under intense scrutiny during the campaign for suggesting people should invoke “Second Amendment remedies” as a check on the government and to, quote, “take out” her opponent, Harry Reid.

We turn now to one of the survivors of the Arizona shooting, Eric Fuller. He’s a 63-year-old disabled vet who had campaigned for Gabrielle Giffords. He was at the supermarket in Tucson Saturday to meet with Giffords. He was shot in the leg, wounded in the back. We spoke with him at his home in Tucson, and he described what happened.

ERIC FULLER: Once she walked up to me, she said, “I’ll answer your questions, but you have to wait.” And there was a line forming up there, so I went over and I sat down and looked over my questions, only two of them, kind of long ones, and was trying to figure out which one and whether I should, you know, ask those questions, when I heard the sound of gunshots. And I looked over only about 10 or 15 feet away, where Gabrielle Giffords had been standing, and in her place was a very excited gunman who was athletically pumping out the rounds and pointing the gun at anybody that he could get a bead on.

People around me were being hit. I just dove for the ground. And while I was diving for the ground, a round hit me in the knee. I was conscious of that. And while I was on the ground, I guess another one, another round, hit me in the back. A fragment did; it hit me in the back. A woman went over and knocked the clip out of his hand. He was reloading. He had a Glock 9mm with a 30-round clip in it. And my thought on the ground was that he’s going to come and finish us off. But this woman knocked the other clip out of his hand. Then a couple of guys came along, bystanders, and they tackled him, knocked him to the ground.

I was in shock, and I just wandered out into the parking lot. And a woman was pushing a cart full of groceries out there. And I said to her, “I’ve been shot.” And she just looked at me like I was crazy. I was taken to the hospital. And even though I was sedated and everything, I stayed up — I was staying up, stayed most of the night. And I didn’t know how to calm myself down, so I wrote down the Declaration of Independence, which I memorized some time ago. And that did help to organize my thoughts. And the first thing that I wrote down and what my reaction was to it was: “How many other people? How many other demented people are out there? It looks like Palin, Beck, Sharron Angle and the rest got their first target. Their wish for Second Amendment activism has been fulfilled — senseless hatred leading to murder, lunatic fringe anarchism, subscribed to by John Boehner, mainstream rebels with vengeance for all, even nine-year-old girls.” There was a little girl named Christina Green, nine years old, who is one of the deceased.

Another thing I wrote down was, “Can we have another fundraiser at the target range, Jesse Kelly?” Jesse Kelly ran against her in the election. And I’ve heard him speak several — a couple of times, and I couldn’t believe he was a real candidate. I thought he was just like a fake candidate. It didn’t seem like anybody would consider him seriously. He came within 4,000 votes of winning the election. One of his slogans was: “Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly.” Kind of a very marginal personality and a low mentality.

I worked hard to elect Gabrielle Giffords. I would rather she was busy doing her job today than lying in a hospital with a gunshot wound in the head.

AMY GOODMAN: Eric Fuller, a 63-year-old disabled vet who had campaigned for Gabrielle Giffords. He was at the supermarket in Tucson on Saturday to meet with the Congress member, shot in the leg and wounded in the back.

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