How one shooting survivor describes Bill Badger's heroics on Jan. 8, 2011, to Arizona Public Media: "Bill was in his 70s at the time and Jared Loughner was a strong 22-year-old who had a gun and was attempting to reload. Had he been able to reload, he had three more magazines, he would have been able to kill many more people." But Loughner wasn't able to do so thanks to Army veteran Badger, who managed to tackle the shooter and, with the help of several others, hold him down and disarm him—this after a bullet grazed the back of Badger's head. The 78-year-old died yesterday morning of pneumonia.
What shooting survivor Gabrielle Giffords had to say upon his death: "I will always be grateful to him for his selfless, brave actions." Sallie Badger says it came as no surprise that her husband had risked his life to help others. The retired Army colonel had spent his entire life doing just that, she says. "Bill was a hero to many, many people long before he became a hero on Jan. 8. He was very influential in many, many young lives in many ways," Sallie says of the 37-year Army pilot. The couple embarked on a three-year journey across the country to push for stricter gun laws. "We wanted desperately to have background checks on every gun that was sold," per Sallie. "And Bill just made that his mission."