“If I’d gone down there sooner, maybe I could have shot him myself,” Mr. Zamudio, age 24, said in a phone interview Sunday night.
… By the time Mr. Zamudio was in close range, others had wrestled the suspect to the ground. Mr. Zamudio helped hold him down.
And young Mr. Zamudio deserves all due credit for his assistance during the chaos. But what the WSJ leaves out in their storyBystander Says Carrying Gun Prompted Him to Help (yes, that’s the real title) is this part, via Slate andDigby:
But before we embrace Zamudio’s brave intervention as proof of the value of being armed, let’s hear the whole story. “I came out of that store, I clicked the safety off, and I was ready,” he explained on Fox and Friends. “I had my hand on my gun. I had it in my jacket pocket here. And I came around the corner like this.” Zamudio demonstrated how his shooting hand was wrapped around the weapon, poised to draw and fire. As he rounded the corner, he saw a man holding a gun. “And that’s who I at first thought was the shooter,” Zamudio recalled. “I told him to ‘Drop it, drop it!’
” But the man with the gun wasn’t the shooter. He had wrested the gun away from the shooter. “Had you shot that guy, it would have been a big, fat mess,” the interviewer pointed out.
Zamudio agreed: I was very lucky. Honestly, it was a matter of seconds. Two, maybe three seconds between when I came through the doorway and when I was laying on top of [the real shooter], holding him down. So, I mean, in that short amount of time I made a lot of really big decisions really fast. … I was really lucky.
When Zamudio was asked what kind of weapons training he’d had, he answered: “My father raised me around guns … so I’m really comfortable with them. But I’ve never been in the military or had any professional training. I just reacted.”
The Arizona Daily Star, based on its interview with Zamudio, adds two details to the story. First, upon seeing the man with the gun, Zamudio “grabbed his arm and shoved him into a wall” before realizing he wasn’t the shooter. And second, one reason why Zamudio didn’t pull out his own weapon was that “he didn’t want to be confused as a second gunman.”
This is a much more dangerous picture than has generally been reported. Zamudio had released his safety and was poised to fire when he saw what he thought was the killer still holding his weapon. Zamudio had a split second to decide whether to shoot. He was sufficiently convinced of the killer’s identity to shove the man into a wall. But Zamudio didn’t use his gun. That’s how close he came to killing an innocent man. He was, as he acknowledges, “very lucky.”
Daniel Hernandez, who kept Giffords from bleeding to death, didn’t have a gun. Neither did 61-year old Patricia Maisch, who kept the shooter from reloading, or Roger Sulzgeber, the man who helped Zamudio hold him down.
Guns aren’t magic. Guns don’t make heroes. Heroism does.