A routine meet-and-greet at a Tuscon, Ariz., shopping center turned into a bloodbath when Jared Loughner opened fire with a Glock 19 semiautomatic pistol at CongresswomanGabrielle Giffords and those around her. Loughner fired off 30 bullets, including one that struck Giffords in the side of the head, critically wounding her and 12 others. Six of those shot were killed. TIME’s cover — an illustration based on Loughner’s mugshot after he was taken into custody — was the very portrait of an unbalanced killer. The cover story looked into the horrific situation that day in the Safeway parking lot, and the heroic actions that may have saved even further bloodshed:
All casualties in a war on normalcy. But now watch what the normal folks do. As Loughner nears the end of his extended ammunition clip, an unidentified man in the crowd stands up beside the rampaging gunman, grabs a folding chair and smashes it across Loughner’s back. As the gunman staggers, his left hand flies out, and Bill Badger, a retired U.S. Army colonel, grabs it and twists. “Bill is a man of action,” his wife later explained.