Out Of Tucson Carnage, A Family Emerges Unbroken — And 'Grown Up' Five years ago Friday, a gunman opened fire in a parking lot in Tucson, Ariz., killing six and wounding others — including Mary Reed, who had been protecting her daughter. This is their story.
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Out Of Tucson Carnage, A Family Emerges Unbroken — And 'Grown Up'

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Out Of Tucson Carnage, A Family Emerges Unbroken — And 'Grown Up'

Out Of Tucson Carnage, A Family Emerges Unbroken — And 'Grown Up'

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

That music mean it is time for StoryCorps. Today is the fifth anniversary of a deadly shooting in Tucson, Ariz. Six people were killed, 13 were wounded - including U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords. This happened in a grocery store parking lot were Giffords was holding an event. Emma McMahon was a high school senior at the time. She had previously volunteered for Giffords, and she was at the event with her mother, Mary Reed.

MARY REED: We pulled up right at 10 o'clock.

EMMA MCMAHON: The line was headed towards the Safeway where Gabrielle Giffords was with her staff.

REED: You had a clipboard because you were still doing college applications.

MCMAHON: I was doing college applications. And there were probably 15 people in line in front of us. And then I heard popping noises. And I realized there was a shooter going down the line, shooting people in the head.

REED: I tasted gunpowder, and I covered you by slamming you against the wall.

MCMAHON: I don't really remember much after that. I think I crouched down.

REED: He tried to shoot your head through me.

MCMAHON: Yeah.

REED: But he shot me on my left arm. So I just turned around, and I thought, little man, you better be looking me in the eye if you're going to shoot me again. And what was astonishing is that he had no facial expression. It was like he was asleep. He had nothing. He dropped the gun from my head and shot me in the back. And then one man ran past me, and one man almost jumped over me and tackled this young man.

MCMAHON: I hadn't fully comprehended what had happened. I didn't understand that so many people had been shot. I remember seeing a lot of blood, and people from the butcher shop came out with all of their butchers' cloths. And I remember getting some of those for you to hold against your back. They were very worried that you were going to be paralyzed.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Are people surprised that you survived this thing?

MCMAHON: People don't really talk to me about it.

REED: You kept saying you felt like everybody treated you like a glass doll.

MCMAHON: People were acting like they couldn't joke with me, they couldn't say anything - like I was so breakable. But I felt like that was the time that I was the strongest, was right after the shooting. I was organizing who was going to bring us dinner on what day. And I was figuring out what to do with all the journalists standing outside of our house, badgering us. I think that was the first time that I felt like a grown-up.

REED: Yeah, I'm so glad we made it through.

MCMAHON: I am too.

GREENE: Emma McMahon with her mother, Mary Reed, at StoryCorps, remembering shootings in Tucson, Ariz., five years ago. Reed was shot three times. She is now able to walk, but she still has a bullet lodged near her spine. Emma graduates from college in May. Their conversation will be archived at the Library of Congress with the rest of the StoryCorps collection. You can hear more on the StoryCorps podcast. You can get it on iTunes and at npr.org.

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