The youngest of the six people killed when a gunman opened fire at a political gathering hosted by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) fought bravely for her life, but the bullet that entered through Christina-Taylor Green’s back tore through vital organs before exiting near her heart, her father said Monday.
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“She was still alive when she got to the hospital. She was a fighter, but there was nothing we could do,” John Green told TODAY’s Meredith Vieira during an interview Monday. “The only thing is, as a family, we wish we had a chance to be with her, and support her, and be with her while she was down.”
Although only in the third grade, the 9-year-old girl with brown eyes that matched her hair knew the difference between right and wrong and very much wanted to do her part to make things right in the world, whether at church, in her community or as a newly elected member of the student council at Mesa Verde Elementary School in Tucson.
Roxanna Green and John Green said it was Christina’s blossoming interest in public service that brought their daughter and an adult family friend to the Tucson Safeway, where they and 18 other people were shot at point-blank range at about 10:15 a.m. local time Saturday.
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‘Graver and graver’
John Green, a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers, said he first believed that Christina was involved in a car accident when he arrived at Tucson’s University Medical Center after listening to a voicemail message from his wife saying that she was headed there.
”As I walked into the emergency ward, things began to get graver and graver. I saw my wife’s face and knew things weren’t as they should be,” Green said.
After doctors informed the Greens and their 11-year-old son, Dallas, that Christina had succumbed to her injuries, all three were escorted into a room to say their tearful goodbyes to the little girl who had dreams of becoming the first woman to play major league baseball.
Dallas, who was named after his paternal grandfather, former major league baseball pitcher and coach Dallas Green, has a form of autism and doesn’t totally understand that his sister is gone forever.
“They were such good friends. They were inseparable,” John Green said. “I don’t think he understands the permanency of this at this time, which may be a good thing. He is going to miss her, as we all are.”
Regarding Jared Lee Loughner, the 22-year-old man charged with murder and attempted murder in the shooting spree, Green told Vieira: “In a free society, we are going to be subjected to people like this. I prefer this to the alternative.”Video: Slain girl’s father: Price of a ‘free society’ (on this page)
Dawning interest in politics
Christina played baseball on an otherwise all-boys team, danced ballet, sang in the church choir, was a gymnast and wanted to be a cheerleader someday. According to her mother, her latest interest to emerge was in politics.
“She was very interested in going [to hear Rep. Giffords] because she wanted to learn more about government so she could help out in the future,” Roxanna Green told MSNBC on Sunday.Video: This video is no longer available (on this page)
Christina’s mother said she had not yet learned about the shooting when she received a call from the husband of the woman who accompanied her daughter to Giffords’ “Congress on the Corner” event notifying her that both had been taken to the hospital.
“I had no idea. I just assumed they got into a car accident, a fender bender or something,” Roxanna Green said.
The family friend, who underwent surgery for four gunshot wounds, has not yet been publicly identified. Her condition was not known Sunday night.
Born of tragedy
Christina-Taylor Green was born on another infamous date in American history: Sept. 11, 2001, the day terrorists seized four passenger jets and crashed them into both towers of the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and a field in Pennsylvania.
John Green told NBC’s Lester Holt that his daughter was aware of what happened on the day she was born and knew it was a significant event.
“She was very proud of that,” Green said through tears. “She began her life with a tragedy on 9/11 and her life was ended with a tragedy here in Arizona, but it was nine good years in the middle so the tragedies were the bookends. The bulk of her life was wonderful and we loved every minute of it so.”
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Because of her interest in public service, John Green said he is glad that her death did not go unnoticed by national leaders. Both President Barack Obama and FBI Director Robert Mueller referenced Christina in remarks about the tragedy.
“I’m proud of her. ... That is where she started, President Obama and his campaign is where she started getting interested in politics, and at least to have him mention her makes me feel good.”Video: Slain girl ‘proud’ of dubious birthday, father says (on this page)
‘Faces of Hope’
Christina was among the 9/11 babies featured in a book titled “Faces of Hope.”
“I just want her memory to live on because she was a face of hope, a face of change, a face of us coming together as a country to stop the violence and hatred and the evil words,” Roxanna Green said. “And for us to bring awareness that there are people out there that have these problems. We have to protect our government officials and innocent young children, people who go there to get involved and make our country a better place.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.