1. Headline
  1. Headline

Video: Slain girl’s father: Price of a ‘free society’

  1. Closed captioning of: Slain girl’s father: Price of a ‘free society’

    >>> let us begin with the tragic death of 9-year-old christina taylor green. kristen welker has more on the little girl who could light up a room. christine, good morning.

    >> reporter: good morning to you, meredith . community members are grieving all six people who were killed in saturday's shooting, but say the loss of a 9-year-old is especially painful. the day 9-year-old christina green came into the world was much like the day she was taken away, amid headlines of senseless loss of innocent lives. she was born on september 11 , 2001 .

    >> she began her life with a tragedy of 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.

    >> reporter: in that short life, christina enjoyed dancing, singing in her church choir and playing little league .

    >> she said, dad, i want to be the first woman major league baseball player.

    >> not surprising, since her grandfather, dallas green was the former manager of the philadelphia phillies and the new york mets and yankees. at the mesa verde elementary school christina was an a-student who had been elected to the city council . the third grader's interest in politics began two years ago with the election of president obama who mentioned her in his remarks about the shooting.

    >> we also know that at least five people lost their lives in this tragedy. among them were a federal judge and a young girl who was barely 9 years old.

    >> reporter: barely 9, but eager to learn more about the political system. so when a neighbor invited christina to join her at a community meeting saturday with congresswoman gabrielle giffords , her parents gladly accepted.

    >> my neighbor had invited both of my children to attend and the only reason my son didn't go was because he had a karate lesson. we thought it was going to be a positive experience.

    >> reporter: thousands of people have visited a facebook page created in christina 's memory. she was one of the 50 faces of hope representing babies born on 9/11.

    >> she looked at 9/11 as a time or a date that we should be hopeful, pray, and come together. what can we all do. not look back at the tragedy, just move forward and how can we as a societity of people make it better.

    >> reporter: and ten people continue to recover here at this tucson hospital. this is where a makeshift memorial continues to grow for christina and those five other people who were killed. meredith ?

    >> john green is christina 's father, good morning, john, and your deepest condolences to you.

    >> good morning, meredith .

    >> john, i know that you are with us this morning to honor your daughter christina and we want to do that. she sounds like a remarkable little girl , how would you describe her?

    >> she was very special. she had a zest and spirit for life that's hard to describe. we talked about how tenacious she was, yet had a very good awareness and sense for people skills. and, you know, a very good balance because she had a very caring attitude. she -- not only was she competitive and tenacious, yet she also had, you know, a very -- just a -- a very good sense of caring for others.

    >> i have heard the word kind used to describe her.

    >> that's a good word. i mean, she loved -- she always took other people's, you know, thoug thoughts in mind when she -- she always thought of others first. and it meant a lot to her to -- especially her brother, they were very close. and i remember talking to -- listening to them talk, asking how he feels about things and she would always -- she would always ask how other people would respond to things like that.

    >> you mentioned other brother dallas who was two years older and christina 11 years old, she was very protective of him. does he understand what's happening? how is he doing?

    >> he's doing okay. they were such good friends. they were inseparable. so i don't think he understands the permanency of this at this time which is maybe a good thing. but he, you know, he's going to miss her as we all are.

    >> john, saturday was just like any other day, except for christina , a special one in that she was going to meet congresswoman giffords and get a sense of politics and the way it works in this country. you were off i believe fixing up a house that the family was going to rent. when did you get word that something was terribly wrong?

    >> well, i knew the timining of things during the day. things were unfolding slower than i expected and i got some phone calls from my wife to call her back. i was going to meet her around 11:00 and she asked -- she just told me to meet her at the hospital. and by the time i got a hold of her, she at that time still thought it was a car accident . you would never expect something like this to happen. of course a car accident is always possible. so it sounded serious because we weren't getting any information. but as i drove into the university medical center hospital, i knew something very serious was going on, because they had lots of police and lots of extra security. so as i walked into the emergency ward , i -- things began to get graver and graver. i just had a sense of doom as i walked up there. i saw my wife's face and i knew. i knew things weren't as they should b be?

    >> i know doctors came out and said they had done everything they could, but she had sustained a bullet, i believe to her chest?

    >> as he described it, yeah, they were very -- really good with my wife and my son until i could arrive. but as i understood, it went through her back and came out her chest. in her heart region. she was still alive when they got to the hospital. she's a fighter. but there was nothing we could do. and, you know, i think the only thing as a family we wish we had a chance to be there with her and support her, help her while she was down.

    >> you did get a chance to see her afterwards, didn't you?

    >> we did. it's a very difficult situation. when -- you know, not only for parents, but for the sibling, my son, but we thought it was important for him to be able to say goodbye. and both my wife and my son handled everything with grace and they were amazing. they were really amazing.

    >> i hope you know and i think you do that people around the country, the outpouring of love for your family and condolences for your family, anybody that has a child is grieving with you, even if they don't have a child. but i know that even though christina was 9 years old, she leaves behind a legacy, you both feel that, your wife and you, what is that legacy? what do you hope that to be?

    >> well, there's always been something special about christina and, you know, the way she came into the world, on 9/11 and the way she left the world yesterday is obviously one that everybody else will remember. we're going to remember her for the nine years that we had her. and she was a beautiful, vibrant, young girl . it shouldn't happen in this country or anywhere else. but, you know, it's a free society , we're going to be subject to people like this. so i prefer this to the alternative.

    >> john green , we thank you so much for being here at such a difficult time for you and your family. our thoughts and prayers are with you.

    >> thank you, very much.

    >> and we're back right after

msnbc.com news services
updated 1/10/2011 9:39:39 AM ET 2011-01-10T14:39:39

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.

  1. Stories from
    1. The 5 Words That Inspire Katie Holmes
    2. Robert Downey, Jr. Jokes: This Pregnancy Has Been 'Extraordinarily Tough' on Me
    3. Third Victim in Washington School Shooting Dies
    4. Family Believes Kristi and Benjamin Strack Killed Children, Committed Suicide
    5. VIDEO: How Well Does Orlando Jones Know His Emojis?

“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.

TODAY Moms: Will Christina's death change the tone in this country?

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.

  1. Related content
    1. NYT: Bloodshed puts focus on vitriol in politics
    2. Judge slain in Ariz. shooting wins wide acclaim
    3. Arizona suspect: I can't trust the government
    4. Profiles of some of the victims
    5. Open Channel: Few assassins fit the 'profile'
    6. Political fallout from attempted assassination
    7. Trailblazer Giffords known for speaking her mind
    8. Giffords 'holding her own,' doctor says
    9. Cosmic Log: Tragedy's impact extends to space
    10. Obama, colleagues call shooting a tragedy
    11. Members of Congress attacked in past

‘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.

TODAY Moms: Will Christina’s death change the tone in this country?

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.”

  1. More from TODAY.com
    1. 9 hilarious Halloween moments from KLG, Hoda as 'Wayne's World' hosts

      Today marked a new high (or low) for Kathie Lee and Hoda as they traded their Spanx and wine glasses for ripped jeans and ...

    2. Jennifer Lopez talks heartbreak, being 'unworthy' of love on TODAY
    3. See TODAY’s ' 'Saturday Night Live' Halloween costumes
    4. Super, again: Neil Patrick Harris, Gotham family do Halloween right
    5. Moms with more than 2 kids are more productive at work, study finds

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.

Photos: Mourning follows deadly shooting in Arizona

loading photos...
  1. A hearse carrying the remains of U.S. District Judge John Roll arrives at the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church before his funeral on in Tucson, Ariz., Friday, Jan. 14. Roll was killed in the Jan. 8 shooting that left six dead and wounded 13, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. (Morry Gash / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Mary Kool holds a single red rose outside the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church where the funeral of U.S. District Judge John Roll was to take place. (Eric Thayer / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Mourners arrive at the funeral service of Judge Roll. (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. A flag recovered from ground zero is raised during funeral service for 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green at the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Tucson, on Thursday, Jan. 13. Green was the youngest victim of the shooting rampage. Green was born on Sept. 11, 2001. (Mamta Popat / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Left to right, Roxanna and John Green, mother and father of Christina Taylor Green, and their son Dallas Green, arrive at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church for her funeral in Tucson on Thursday. (Mamta Popat / Pool via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. 2,000 mourners were in attendance at the funeral of Christina Taylor Green on Thursday in Tucson. (Mamta Popat  / Pool via EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. People dressed as angels line the street leading to the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church where the funeral for Christina Taylor Green was to take place in Tucson on Thursday. Hundreds, dressed in white, lined the streets for more than a quarter mile of the funeral procession. (Mike Segar / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. John Green kisses his son Dallas on the head as the family follows the casket of Christina Taylor Green at her funeral mass in Tucson, on Thursday. At left is Christina's mother Roxanna and at right is Camden Grant, Christina's godmother's son. (Rick Wilking / Pool via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. A young mourner carries flowers and a teddy bear to the funeral of Christina Taylor Green in Tucson on Thursday. (Mamta Popat / Pool via EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Cindy and John McCain listen during the funeral service for shooting victim Christina Taylor Green in Tucson on Thursday. (Greg Bryan / Pool via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A woman holds the service program from the funeral for 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green outside St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Tucson on Thursday. (Mike Segar / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. President Barack Obama speaks at the University of Arizona's McKale Memorial Center during the memorial service for victims of the shootings in Tucson. Obama told the crowd on Wednesday, Jan. 12, that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had opened her eyes for the first time since being shot in the head during the attack on Jan. 8. Six people were killed and 13 wounded by the lone gunman. (Jewel Samad / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Daniel Hernandez , the 20-year-old intern credited with likely saving the life of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, hugs her husband, NASA shuttle commander Mark Kelly, as U.S. first lady Michelle Obama applauds. (Jim Young / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. First lady Michelle Obama holds the hand of Rep. Gabrielle Gifford's husband, NASA shuttle commander Mark Kelly, as they listen to President Barack Obama speak. (Jim Young / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. People sing the national anthem during the memorial service on the University of Arizona campus in Tucson. (Chris Carlson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama at the start of the memorial event. (Jewel Samad / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. People line up at the University of Arizona campus for the memorial service. (David Becker / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Barb Tuttle is overcome with emotion at a makeshift memorial outside the office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on Jan. 12 in Tucson. (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Women waiting in line for the memorial service look at the campus paper at the University of Arizona. (Rick Wilking / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Mark Kelly, husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, holds his wife's hand in the congresswoman's hospital room at University Medical Center on Jan. 9. (Offiice Of Gabrielle Giffords / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Ron Barber, 65, district director for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, is visited by Giffords aide Daniel Hernandez in his hospital room on Jan. 9. Hernandez rushed to Gifford's aid after she was shot. Hernandez said that while he held the wounded Giffords, he asked another bystander to put pressure on Barber's wounds. He also asked Barber for his wife's phone number and then shouted it out to someone so that Barber's wife, Nancy, could be informed of the shooting. (Gabrielle Giffords' Office / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama observe a moment of silence with White House staff members on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on Jan. 10. (Jewel Samad / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Congressional staff observe a moment of silence to honor victims of the assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on the steps of the Capitol in Washington. (Michael Reynolds / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Rachel Cooper-Blackmore, 9, adds a note to a memorial at Mesa Verde Elementary School in Tucson, on Jan. 10. Christina Taylor Green, 9, was killed during the Tucson attack. (Chris Carlson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Rachel Crabb, 5, holds hands with teachers, parents and other students during a moment of silence for her slain schoolmate, Christina Taylor Green, at Mesa Verde Elementary School on Jan. 9. (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Candles are lit on Sunday at a makeshift memorial outside University Medical Center in Tuscon, Ariz., for those killed or wounded during the attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords . (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Ellie Steve, 6, from left, Lucia Reeves, 6, and Zoe Reeves, 18, gather for a candlelight vigil outside the office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Ariz., on Sunday. (Chris Carlson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Six balloons representing the six people killed in Saturday's shooting spree, as part of a prayer vigil.Rep. Gabrielle Giffords battled for her life on Sunday after an assailant shot her in the head and killed six others in a rampage that has launched a debate about extreme political rhetoric in America. (Eric Thayer / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. People console each other at a makeshift memorial located outside the University Medical Center on Jan. 9 in Tucson, Ariz. (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. The American flag flies at half-staff on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, on Jan. 9. In a brief statement Sunday morning, House Speaker John Boehner said flags on the House side of the Capitol in Washington will be flown at half-staff to honor the slain aide, Gabe Zimmerman, of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Thirty-year-old Zimmerman was among six killed Saturday. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. The congregation prays for the victims of Saturday's shooting in Tuscon, at the Pantano Christian Church in East Tucson, Jan. 9. (Rick Wilking / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Monty Edmonds, 36, left, of Tucson; Maggie Kipling, 34, of Tucson; Leigh Harris, 50, of Phoenix; Bella Furr, 21, of Tucson; and Sarah Herrmann, 22, of Tucson participate in a vigil at University Medical Center for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot during an event in front of a Safeway grocery store Jan. 8, in Tucson, Ariz. (Laura Segall / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Emergency personnel use a stretcher to move Rep. Gabrielle Giffords after she was shot in the head outside a shopping center in Tucson on Saturday. (James Palka / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Ernie Freuler fights back tears as Ray Lilley takes photos of the scene outside the office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords after she was shot in the head by a gunman who opened fire outside a grocery store, Saturday, Jan. 8, in Tucson, Ariz. (Chris Morrison / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. A law enforcement officer stands outside the home of Jared L. Loughner, identified by federal officials as the suspect arrested in connection with the shooting of U.S Representative Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Ariz., Jan. 8. (Eric Thayer / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. People gather for a candlelight vigil for the victims of the shooting in Arizona at the steps of Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Saturday Jan. 8. (Jose Luis Magana / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. Vera Rapcsak and others hold signs outside the office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on Saturday after she was shot while meeting constituents. (Chris Morrison / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. Emergency personnel attend to a shooting victim outside a shopping center in Tucson, Ariz. on Saturday, Jan. 8, where Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others were shot as the congresswoman was meeting with constituents. Rep. Giffords, 40, a Democrat, took office in January 2007, emphasizing issues such as immigration reform, embryonic stem-cell research, alternative energy sources and a higher minimum wage. The gunman shot Giffords in the head, seriously wounding her, and killed six other people in a shooting rampage at a public meeting in Tucson on Saturday. Giffords was airlifted to a hospital in Tucson where she underwent surgery. One of the doctors who treated her said he was optimistic about her recovery. (James Palka / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. A woman places flowers by the office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on Capitol Hill in Washington on Saturday after she was shot in Tucson by a gunman who opened fire, killing six people, including a U.S. district judge, John M. Roll. (Nicholas Kamm / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. In this photo provided by The White House, President Barack Obama talks with Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer about the shooting. (Pete Souza / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. Emergency personnel at the scene where Giffords and others were shot outside a Safeway grocery store in Tucson on Saturday. (Matt York / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. Law enforcement personnel work the crime scene on Saturday. (Eric Thayer / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. A medical helicopter evacuates victims from the shooting scene. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  1. Image:
    Morry Gash / AP
    Above: Slideshow (45) Mourning follows deadly shooting in Arizona
  2. Image: US Senate holds hearing on Gun Control
    Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA
    Slideshow (26) Former Ariz. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

  1. Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

    Party on, TODAY! See ‘Saturday Night Live’ costumes for Halloween 2014

    10/31/2014 12:15:55 PM +00:00 2014-10-31T12:15:55
  1. Courtesy of Arti Ghole

    These babies in Halloween costumes will brighten your day

    10/31/2014 4:57:53 PM +00:00 2014-10-31T16:57:53
  1. @instagranph via Instagram

    Super, again: Neil Patrick Harris, Gotham family do Halloween right

    10/31/2014 10:18:06 PM +00:00 2014-10-31T22:18:06
  1. Jacquelyn Martin / AP

    Treat yourself: Steal the White House's Halloween cookie recipe

    10/31/2014 9:42:26 PM +00:00 2014-10-31T21:42:26