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January 16, 2011

Emergency responders talk about Ariz. shooting

By Gillian Flaccus
The Associated Press via The Bozeman Daily Chronicle

TUCSON, Ariz. — Veteran paramedic Tony Compagno stepped off Engine 30 and into hell: Panicked people rushed his crew, trying to pull them toward the injured, while three men desperately gave chest compressions to a 9-year-old girl.

Others cried out "Giffords! Giffords!" and pointed to a woman lying unconscious with a gunshot wound to the head. Several other bodies were already covered with sheets.

Compagno and other paramedics on the first three engine trucks to respond to the mass shooting at Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' Jan. 8 meet-andgreet event recounted Saturday the scene that unfolded a week earlier as they rushed to count and triage the victims. by doing that it's going about your day as usual," said Larson, who runs a sandwich shop in the same shopping center.

"I can't come here and go about my day as usual," he said. "Why should it be usual for me when it's not for the victims? "

Still listed in critical conditions, Giffords was reported as continuing to progress Saturday, with doctors replacing the breathing tube that connected her to a ventilator with a tracheotomy tube in her windpipe. They

At the same time, the Safeway where the shooting happened reopened and a memorial of flowers quickly grew outside.

Randy Larson, 57, came by to shop but instead found himself sitting quietly on the curb choking back tears.

"I wanted to come here now and see it now and not two weeks later when it's just a grocery store. I honestly kind of thought, 'Well, I'll come and patronize them and shop' but it's really hard to, because could soon know if she can speak, but they didn't offer a timeframe. Doctors also installed a feeding tube.

Elsewhere in town, an organization called Crossroads of the West held a gun show, one of many it hosts in several Western states. An estimated crowd of 4,000 showed up on the balmy Saturday, though the mood was less upbeat than past shows, organizer Bob Templeton said. Gun enthusiasts mingled in the county fairgrounds building, discussing Second Amendment rights and buying handguns, rifles and other weapons.

The group considered canceling the event, but decided it would go on, said Templeton, adding that the shooting was not about gun rights, but rather "a deranged person who was able to carry out whatever his agenda was."

Tensions were still high, though. One of the shooting victims, James Eric Fuller, was arrested after he threatened a tea party leader during a town hall meeting for an ABC News special, authorities said.

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