A former Pierre man, who still has children living in this area, has been identified as one of those who subdued the gunman who killed six people and shot Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords Saturday in Tucson, AZ.
Bill Badger, 74, is a retired Army Colonel now living in the Tucson area. He lived in Pierre from 1965-1973. While in Pierre, he was in the South Dakota National Guard, flying helicopters and fixed based aircraft. Three children, sons Tim and Brady Badger and daughter Jody Hardwick all live in Pierre and another, Lonnie Badger, lives in Sioux Falls.
Bill Badger, who still visits South Dakota and went pheasant hunting this fall, says he communicates regularly with Giffords and her office. He was invited to attend Saturday's meet-and-greet that the congresswoman was holding in a Safeway Grocery Store parking lot.
Badger says he was waiting to speak with the congresswoman and talking to other people when he first heard the shots. When Badger looked, he says that the suspected shooter Jared Loughner had already shot the congresswoman, a federal judge and a nine-year-old girl.
�He was just coming right down the line, he wasn�t walking, he was just aiming and just shooting everybody that was sitting in a chair there,� Badger says. �Some of them who were being hit were falling over and the rest started to hit the pavement.�
As Badger tried to get to the ground, he felt �a burning sensation� in the back of his head and knew he had been hit by a bullet.
Once Badger heard the shooting stop, he stood up and saw Loughner standing in front of him, going right to left. As the suspect walked past by Badger, one person hit Loughner with a folding chair. At the same time, Badger and other man grabbed Loughner by the arms and shoulders, pushing him to the pavement.
They kept him there until police arrived.
Badger says during the takedown, he saw Loughner try to throw away a small Zip-Loc bag full of money and personal identification. Badger says he pointed out the bag to law enforcement.
Badger, who was one of 19 people injured in the shooting, says he didn't have time to worry about being killed. He says the military training he first learned in Pierre took over. Badger stresses he is no hero, but just did what anybody would have done, while also surviving.
�I have to be the luckiest person in the world,� he says. �Some individual told me I should go and buy a lottery ticket. I said I just won the lottery by not being killed.�
Son Tim Badger of Pierre says he and his siblings are proud of their father and thankful he was not seriously hurt. Tim Badger says they are not surprised that their father tried to help others.
As a Christmas present this year, Tim Badger gave his father an airline ticket to fly to Rapid City this coming weekend to see his grandson, Landon, for the first time play in a PeeWee hockey game. Bill Badger says he plans to be there on Saturday � exactly one week after the shooting.