Arizona Shooting Evokes ‘Horrific Memories’ for Speier

Posted January 10, 2011 at 10:43am

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), who was shot in the 1978 attack that killed Rep. Leo Ryan (D-Calif.), said Saturday’s attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) brings back “horrific memories” of the assassination of her former boss.

Speier was an aide to Ryan when they took part in a fact-finding trip to Guyana to investigate allegations of human rights abuses by the Rev. Jim Jones and his followers, most of whom were American citizens. Ryan was among five people killed as their delegation boarded a plane to leave; Speier was shot five times and waited 22 hours before help arrived.

“Of course the experience brings back some horrific memories of Congressman Ryan’s assassination 30 years ago,” Speier said Saturday on KGO radio, a San Francisco radio station.

“The Congressman was shot 45 times. I was shot five times. He’s the only Congressman in the history of this country that’s been assassinated in the line of duty. I hope that we never have another one,” she said.

Speier said Ryan’s death resulted in military escorts taking part in delegation trips around the world. But she lamented that one of the implications of Giffords’ shooting may be that lawmakers must now have a police officer with them when they meet with constituents.

“That would be just a shameful turn of events,” she said.

Speier also had advice for those wounded during the Giffords attack on how to recover mentally. “It is important to early on decide to become a survivor and not a victim because you will be tormented otherwise,” she said.