Man wounded in Tucson shooting arrested at meeting
A victim in the mass shooting north of Tucson attending a special town hall today was arrested after his outburst at another man who spoke in support of gun ownership.
The Pima County Sheriff’s Department said it arrested Eric Fuller, 63, who was wounded in the knee a week ago in the shooting rampage that killed six and wounded 13. He was being held Saturday for alleged threats of intimidation and disorderly conduct and will undergo a mental-health evaluation.
The incident took place near the end of a taping of ABC’s weekly “Town Hall” with news anchor Christiane Amanpour.
The program, which airs Sunday and is called “Tragedy in Tucson: An American Conversation Continued,” reunited many victims, initial responders to the shooting scene and witnesses. Open to the public, the forum at a Catholic church was designed to promote conversation and healing a week after the grocery-store shooting.
Most of the of taping was calm and at times emotional as witnesses recounted the events in which a gunman opened fire at a local Safeway, killing six and wounding 13, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Toward the end of the taping, Amanpour brought up the issues of gun safety and mental health. As one member of the audience stood up and expressed his support for gun ownership, Fuller, seated near the front in an area reserved for victims and special guests, appeared increasingly frustrated and agitated.
Fuller then swiveled in his chair, raised his camera and took a photo of the pro-gun speaker, muttering, “You’re dead,” according to Joel Tranter, who was sitting behind him.
“I told him, ‘You need to be respectful. You need to calm down,’” Tranter said. “He said, ‘What’d you do, vote for this guy?’”
As police officers approached to escort Fuller outside, he turned and shouted at the audience: “You whores!”
The rest of the taping continued without incident and wrapped up about five minutes later.
Outside, Fuller was arrested for making threats, said Capt. Byron Gwaltney of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department.
“He’s currently in our custody and we’re in the process of dealing with that investigation to see what charges will be made,” Gwaltney said.
Fuller’s actions could be a response to the trauma he suffered a week ago, said Dr. Laura Nelson, deputy director for the behavioral health sciences division at the Arizona Department of Health.
“Grief after what happened here in Tucson last week is a completely normal reaction, and … anger is a very common symptom of grief,” said Nelson, who had been invited to speak at the forum. “I hope that he’ll get the help that he needs to get through this very difficult time.”
Fuller, who works as a signature collector for political initiatives, was about 10 to 15 feet away from Giffords, talking to her volunteers, when the shots erupted on Jan. 8. He said earlier this week he was hit by a bullet when he dove to the ground to play dead. He decided that because he didn’t have any medical training to help others, he walked to his car and drove himself to the nearest hospital.
About 100 people attended the taping, which took place at St. Odilia Church less than a mile from the Safeway where the shooting occurred.
Among the guests were Patricia Maisch, Bill Badger and Daniel Hernandez, who were attending Giffords’ event when the shooting occurred; Bill Hileman, husband of Susan Hileman, who was wounded in the rampage; U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Floirda, a friend of Giffords’, and Rick Kastigar of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department.