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11 years later: Survivors and families remember the January 8th tragedy

Gabe Zimmerman Garden
Posted at 6:58 AM, Jan 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-07 08:58:20-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — On January 8, 2011, a tragedy struck Tucson at a local Safeway as a gunman killed six and wounded 13. Among those wounded was then Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and former Congressman Ron Barber.

Congressional aide and social worker Gabe Zimmerman was one of the six who died, but his legacy lives on in both the memorial downtown and a trailhead dedicated to him. His father Ross Zimmerman was the president of the Beyond Foundation, which was created in response to the mass shooting.

"I’m not good at denial I went through a few hours of that but then I shifted gears and realized that I needed to help people remember Gabe," he said.

Beyond will host events that will get people together in the outdoors doing some physical activity, which was something Gabe loved. Zimmerman said this tragedy isn't something you heal from but rather something you learn to cope with.

In addition to the Beyond events, theJanuary 8th Memorial Foundationwill be hosting a ceremony at 9:30am and a bell ringing will begin at 10:10am, which was the exact time the shooting started 11 years ago.

Former Congressman and president of the memorial foundation Ron Barber said during the shooting and its aftermath, he saw the community valiantly unite.

"For the larger community what this represents is that we weren’t going to allow the events of that day to define who we were and the outpouring of support happened almost immediately," he said.

Barber knew Gabe and said he was known around the office as the "Constituent Whisperer".

"When the shooting started, he ran towards us to help us," Barber said. "In his 30 years — his life was cut short — he did so much for his community and was so dedicated and loyal."

Both Zimmerman and Barber said it's important to use good coping mechanisms and focus on mental health. Zimmerman said the outdoors and physical activity are helpful in maintaining good mental health.

"If they go to one of the events next week, maybe it will change their outlook life bring a little bit of positivity," he said.

Here is the full list of the Beyondevents:

Saturday, January 8th
• Beyond Hike at Gabe Zimmerman Trailhead with Arizona Trail Association – 2pm – 5pm

Sunday, January 9th
• Downtown Mural Bike Ride with The Damion Alexander Team — 10am - Noon
• 1 Mile Challenge Run/Walk Event at White Elementary School – 1pm – 3pm

Monday, January 10th
• Meet Me at Maynards – Expanded with 4 Pillars activities 4:30pm-6:30pm

Wednesday, January 12th
• Meet Me Wednesday- Expanded with 4 Pillars activities 4:30-6:30pm

Friday, January 14th
• Native foods & nutrition workshop with Martha Ames Burgess at Mission Gardens -10 am – Noon

Saturday, January 15th
• Run with Saguaros by Southern Arizona Roadrunners – 8:30am – Saguaro West
• Chuck-son Trail with Ironwood Tree Experience – 9am – 11:30am