TUCSON, Ariz. Jan. 9, 2011— -- Patricia Maisch looks like a grandmother, but she is being hailed as a hero today for helping to stop alleged Tucson shooter Jared Loughner by wrestling away a fresh magazine of bullets as he tried to reload.
Maisch, 61, effectively disarmed the shooter as several men pounced on him and threw him to ground. As they struggled to hold him down, Maisch joined the scrum on the ground, clinging to the gunman's ankles.
Maisch and her fellow heroes -- identified as Bill Badger, Roger Sulzgeber and Joseph Zamudio -- stopped the carnage after 20 people were shot, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Six people died.
"[I] knew right away it was a gun... I heard a continuation of shots," Maisch told a news conference today.
Maisch, who has a crown of snow-white hair, was standing towards the back of the line to greet and snap a photo with Giffords at the "Congress in Your Corner" event at a Safeway grocery store.
Speaking to the press today, Maisch recalled how she stopped Loughner as he tried to reload his Glock 9 mm weapon.
"I could see him coming. [He] shot the lady next to me," Maisch said.
As he was shooting, she said, she was expecting to be hit and she wondered what it would feel like.
There was "lots of blood and confusion," she said.
She considered trying to run away, she said, but thought that would make her more of a target, so she laid down on the ground. But then something unexpected happened.
"Then he was next to me on the ground," she said. "The gentleman knocked him down.
"I kneeled over him. He was pulling a magazine [to reload] and I grabbed the magazine and secured that. I think the men got the gun, and I was able to get the magazine," she said.
Maisch said Badger and Sulzgeber both sat on the gunman while she held his ankles down. Police said that Zimudie helped by hanging on to Loughner's legs.
Sulzgeber was reportedly standing with his wife, third in line to meet with Giffords, while Zimudie was in the nearby Walgreens and came running out once he heard the shooting.
"I thought I would be shot. I am thankful for those two brave men," Maisch said. "I am not a hero. The other guys are. I just assisted getting the clip."
Badger, a 74-year-old retired army colonel living in Tucson, told Pottsville, Pa.'s Republican-Herald how he helped capture Loughner, and that he was grazed in the back of the head by a bullet.
The Heroes of the Tucson Shooting
"I heard the shots but I thought they were fireworks at first," Badger told the newspaper. "I wasn't sure they were shots until I actually saw the shooter, and I was sure he was really shooting bullets when I felt the sting on the back of my head."
According to Badger, who the Republican-Herald confirmed was treated for an injury at a hospital, he was the first person standing next to a row of chairs leading to Giffords when the first shots rang out.
Badger told the paper, "I turned and saw him running down the line of people on the chairs. He ran between me and the store. Someone hit him with a chair and he flinched a little. That's when I grabbed his left arm. Someone grabbed his right arm and we got him to the ground.
"The other guy put his knee into the back of his neck and I grabbed him around the throat. We held him until police got there. While we had him on the ground I saw blood running and it wasn't until then I realized it was coming from the back of my head," Badger said.
Speaking outside her home this evening, Maisch said that when she noticed that one of the men was bleeding from the head, she ran into the Safeway to get paper towels.
"I put a compress on the man's head while he was securing the shooter," she said.