Gay man denies he acted heroically in shooting

The openly gay aide credited with saving the life of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords says he’s not a hero.

In a CNN interview with Daniel Hernandez, 20, he credited emergency responders with saving Giffords’ life and said she and other public servants are the real heroes.

“It just makes me happy that I was able to help her in any way that I could,” Hernandez told CNN.

Hernandez was serving as an intern to Giffords when she was shot in the head during a public meeting with constituents on Jan. 8 in front of a Tucson grocery store.

Many people have branded Hernandez a hero for his bravery and quick thinking in the moments following the tragedy, which took six lives and wounded 12. During a speech on Jan. 11, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer requested – and got – a standing ovation for Hernandez.

Hernandez is openly gay and a member of the City of Tucson Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Issues. A student at the University of Arizona, he had begun working for Giffords only five days before the shooting.

Hernandez recounted on ABC’s “This Week” how he’d used smocks from the grocery store to bandage the wounded victims and used his hand to apply pressure to the entry wound on Giffords’ forehead.

“Once I saw that she was down and there were more than one victim, I went ahead and started doing the limited triage that I could with what I had … checking for pulses and then … covering and applying pressure to the wounds.

“I had to lift up the congresswoman because she was severely injured, and I wanted to make sure that she was able to breathe OK because there was so much blood,” he said.

“The congresswoman was alert. She was able to hold my hand when I asked her if she could hear me. I wasn’t able to get any words from her.”

State Rep. Matt Heinz, who is also a physician at University Medical Center where Giffords was taken, told the Arizona Republic that the quick reaction of Hernandez probably saved the congresswoman’s life.

After hearing on NPR that Giffords had died, Hernandez said he was “ecstatic” to learn later that she was still alive.

“She was one of the people I’ve looked up to,” he said. “Knowing she was alive and still fighting was good news. She’s definitely a fighter, whether for her own life, or standing up for people in southern Arizona.”