By San Diego Gay and Lesbian News
TUCSON, Ariz. – Daniel Hernandez, an openly gay intern for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, is being hailed as a hero for helping save the congresswoman’s life in the aftermath of the shooting rampage on Saturday.
The 20-year-old Hernandez, who had worked only five days for Giffords, rushed to her side after she was shot in the head in close range. The intern told the media that he had taken a first-aid class in high school and that his instincts took over during the chaotic emergency situation.
Giffords was rushed to a hospital and underwent brain surgery, and doctors were hopeful for a recovery.
On Sunday, federal prosecutors charged 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner with five counts, including the attempted assassination of Giffords. Loughner is also accused of killing Arizona’s top federal jurist, Judge John Roll, and five other people. Thirteen additional people were wounded in the massacre.
President Barack Obama called the shooting spree “an unspeakable tragedy” and called for all Americans to observe a moment of silence on Monday at 11 a.m. EST/8 a.m. PST.
“It will be a time for us to come together as a nation in prayer or reflection, keeping the victims and their families closely at heart,” the president said in a statement. The president signed a proclamation Sunday calling for flags to be flown at half-staff.
Congress, meanwhile, canceled all votes for the week ahead.
On Sunday, though, the national media looked for moments of heroism amid the barrage of bullets that changed so many lives. And they focused on Hernandez, an unlikely hero.
“This Week” anchor Christiane Amanpour interviewed Hernandez by phone to hear his compelling eyewitness account:
When I heard gunshots, my first instinct was to head toward the congresswoman to make sure that she was OK. Once I saw that she was down, and there were more than one victim, I went ahead and started doing the limited triage that I could with what I had.
When this happened, I kind of just shut off all emotion because I knew I wouldn't be any good to anyone if I had a breakdown. I had to lift up the congresswoman because she was severely injured, and I wanted to make sure that she was able to breathe OK because there was so much blood.
The congresswoman was alert. She was able to hold my hand when I asked her if she could hear me. I wasn't able to get any words from her. She may have been trying, but because of the way that I was having to hold her it was a lot easier to just 'if you can hear me Gabby just grab my hand to let me know that you're OK.'