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Medics describe chaos of shooting scene as gun show goes on nearby

Published: Sat, January 15, 2011 @ 7:48 p.m.

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP)

Veteran paramedic Tony Compagno stepped off Engine 30 and into hell: Panicked people rushed his crew, trying to pull them toward the injured, while three men desperately gave chest compressions to a 9-year-old girl.

Others cried out "Giffords! Giffords!" and pointed to a woman lying unconscious with a gunshot wound to the head. Several other bodies were already covered with sheets.

Compagno and other paramedics on the first three engine trucks to respond to the mass shooting at Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' Jan. 8 meet-and-greet event recounted Saturday the scene that unfolded a week earlier as they rushed to count and triage the victims.

At the same time, the Safeway where the shooting happened reopened and a memorial of flowers quickly grew outside.

Randy Larson, 57, came by to shop but instead found himself sitting quietly on the curb choking back tears.

Elsewhere in town, an organization called Crossroads of the West held a gun show, one of many it hosts in several Western states. An estimated crowd of 4,000 showed up on the balmy Saturday, though the mood was less upbeat than past shows, organizer Bob Templeton said. Gun enthusiasts mingled in the county fairgrounds building, discussing Second Amendment rights and buying handguns, rifles and other weapons.

The group considered canceling the event, but decided Tuesday it would go on, said Templeton.

For the full story, read Sunday's Vindicator or Vindy.com.

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