After The Tragedy: An American Conversation Continued

Emotional Town Hall on Tucson Tragedy on a Special 'This Week'

ByABC News
January 15, 2011, 7:04 PM

January 15, 2011— -- In an emotional town hall event on "This Week," anchor Christiane Amanpour gathered together – for the first time since the tragic shooting – many of those who were in the Safeway parking lot on that fateful day when Rep. Gabriel Giffords, D-AZ, and 18 others were shot.

The colonel who wrestled the gunman to ground, the petite woman who knocked away his ammunition, the heroic intern who staunched the Congresswoman's bleeding – all joined Amanpour in Tucson. Other Members of Congress came to the town hall as well: Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., along with former Arizona Republican Rep. Jim Kolbe. All the victims of the tragedy were invited and a thoughtful, forthright and stirring conversation ensued.

Anna Ballis, who was at the Safeway eight days ago, talked to Amanpour about the moment of the shooting. She had intended to go the grocery store, but never made it inside. She remembered seeing Christina-Taylor Green, moments before the nine-year-old girl was killed. "I do remember looking over and seeing Christina, and she was quite excited about meeting the congresswoman, jumping up and down. And, unfortunately, she never made it," Ballis said, choking back tears.

Bill Heilman, whose wife Suzie was shot escorting Green to meet Congresswoman Giffords, talked about the wrenching emotional journey Suzie is going through.

"Suzie has had Christina on her mind from the moment she woke up," Heilman said. "I sensed that once she did finally lose consciousness, she had described right before that their hands still being held, being on the ground, absolutely eyeball to eyeball with Christina. And that is the image that was in her head until she woke up after her surgery," he said.

"All she wanted to do was to give a little girl a chance to see what she herself could become someday in a way that Suzie and her generation felt she never could," Heilman told Amanpour.

"She's a strong woman," Heilman said of his wife, "and she knows rationally that there's no blame to be apportioned. But the fact of the matter is, she took a little neighbor's girl away that morning and was unable to bring her home."