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Witnesses recount how Arizona gunman was wrestled to the ground

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Witness helped tackle suspect
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The woman who took the magazine from the shooter says she didn't have time to think
  • NEW: She snatched it after he dropped the magazine on the sidewalk
  • Zamudio helped pin the gunman to the ground
  • He says the "real hero" was a wounded man who first grabbed the gunman

Follow the latest developments on CNN's "This Just In" blog. Share your accounts, images from the shooting with CNN iReport. For more information, visit CNN affiliates KGUN, KOLD, KVOA, KPHO and KMSB. Read the federal charges against Jared Lee Loughner (PDF).

(CNN) -- Within seconds after the shooting began, at least one man who was grazed by a bullet grabbed the gunman, a middle-aged woman snatched ammunition away from him, and a group of people held him down while another man grabbed the gun out of his hand, a man and a woman who helped subdue the shooter told CNN Sunday.

"It was so surreal. You don't believe what's really happening in front of you. People are really dying," said Joe Zamudio, one of the people who helped restrain the suspect. "As the police took him away, I looked up and it was just -- it hit me like a ton of bricks. All these people that were wounded, and all these people's lives were changed in an instant."

Zamudio had been inside a nearby Walgreens when he heard the shots ring out.

"I ran outside towards the shots and when I rounded the corner, the first thing I saw was the people wrestling with the gunman. Behind that it was just kind of like people laying everywhere and kind of falling and crawling. Kind of realizing you had been shot is a weird thing to go through, I think. The people didn't really know. They were saying, 'What happened? What was that?' And then it started, a lot of 'I'm bleeding.' Like, this is real -- this is real. And then it was just, you know, 'Where's the ambulances?' It was just like nobody really knew what was going on. Nobody could really come to terms with it for minutes it seemed like. Nobody really kind of realized the massiveness of what happened."

"What really scared me," Zamudio said, was seeing a middle-aged, "maybe elderly woman," wrestling the next magazine away from the gunman. "I realized he was trying to reload his gun ... I just kind of fell on him too, like kind of put my weight over him, and made sure the gun was down and out of play."

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The woman was Patricia Maisch, who said she didn't have time to think about what she was doing.

"He (the suspect) pulled the magazine out of his pants pocket and it dropped onto the sidewalk. And before he could reach it, I got it," she said. "I just reacted. I didn't have an opportunity to think."

Maisch brushed off reports of her being called a hero.

"The two men that secured him were the heroes. I just was an assistant in being able to get that magazine or clip," she said, humbly.

The gunman was already on the ground when Zamudio got there, he said. "I laid on him and held him down, and made sure the gun was down."

The "real hero," Zamudio said, was the man who grabbed the gunman first. "There was a gentleman who was wounded on top of the head, I think he got hit with a ricochet or something, (a) bullet grazed the top of his head," but still he "initiated the contact" with the shooter. "Then other people were able to grab on and they were able to kind of contain him and pull him down."

Zamudio's account differs slightly from Maisch's in that she said two men secured the suspect.

A third man wrestled the gun out of the shooter's hand, Zamudio said. In the confusion, Zamudio explained, he grabbed that man's wrist at one point, not knowing who it was. "He says to me, 'No, no, it's him, it's him. Just put it (the gun) on the ground. Put it on the ground."

It felt like three or four minutes before the police came, Zamudio said. "I thought it seemed like forever. But I think when you're in the moment, your perception of time is off."

 
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