Nightly News   |  January 21, 2011

Hileman: 'Christina, don't you die on me'

In an exclusive interview with Brian Williams, Tucson shooting victim Suzi Hileman--who tried to protect the nine-year old Christina Taylor Green, whom she escorted to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' fateful event two weeks ago--speaks out about how she's coping with the loss of Christina as well as her own injuries.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> and now to the emotional time we spent here earlier today with suzi hileman. if you don't know her name right off, she is the woman who brought her 9-year-old neighbor and friend to meet her congresswoman that morning at the supermarket. suzi hileman was shot three times and is recovering, but 9-year-old christina taylor green didn't survive. suzi hileman is dealing with that while building her own body back up. she's a strong woman , smart and quick. she's a new yorker, ivy league educated, with a strong family and a long road ahead. what you're about to hear is at times heart-breaking as she talks with us, along with her husband, bill, about survival and loss.

>> congresswoman giffords is shaking hands with the people in front of us and talking. i said, okay, you have your question, you know what you're going to say. she goes yeah, yeah, yeah. i said christina , let's do the math. how many senators do we have? hold that number. how many representatives do we have? add that number. hold that number. let's add the president and the vice president. you got that number? that's the number of people who make the laws that tell us how we live here in america today. and you are going to get to shake her hand. wow, gunshot.

>> that was the last thing. [ crying ]

>> there's a moment of deafening silence, does that make sense? people -- there was no doubt that this was a noise i had never heard before. congresswoman giffords slid down with the flags behind her.

>> did you see loughner? the gunman?

>> he's not in my space. i don't -- he who should be slapped. i need a name. i am having a hard time labeling my emotions. right now my space is christina and me.

>> at this point in time, the mug shot and everything else about it is not going to be part of our space.

>> his face comes on the tv screen and if somebody doesn't change it, i put my hand up like that. i can't --

>> there's a parking lot, there's a vinyl banner, congress on your corner, the seal of congress of the united states , flags. congresswoman is under the plastic table. and all these characters we have now come to know.

>> hear us, hear us. there was a fabulous ball, 30, 40 something pima county s.w.a.t. team officers who told me to lie down and put my leg up because, ma'am, you're bleeding. yeah, of that i am aware. the next thing i remember, so there's that memory, there's that memory. i have snippets. pieces are gone.

>> some may come back.

>> let's hope good ones. the next thing i remember is i'm lying on the concrete and christina is to my left. and she was beautiful. she was undamaged. and she didn't talk. but we were eyeball to eyeball. and i'm yelling at her, christina taylor green, don't you die on me. don't you go away from me girl friend . don't leave me to do this by myself. stay here. christina , christina taylor green. and she's looking at me. and it was -- she was wondering, she was confused, she was asking me what is going on, and i'm just telling her to stay with me. do not leave me here by myself, young lady . and then someone, a big, calm but definitely pay attention to this voice, lady, legs, khaki legs came between us and said "ma'am, we are -- christina is being taken care of." she, because they didn't know her name then. she is being taken care of, your friend is being taken care of. you are bleeding. your job is to stay calm and let us help you. and i was worried about where is my purse, where is my wallet, where is my wallet. who knows why you think of these things, and how is christina . where is christina . i was responsible for her. it was my job to bring her home to her mom and dad . i took christina taylor green on january 8th , 2011 , to see gabrielle giffords , and i said to christina , that could be you. there is no reason on god's green earth that you can't grow up and be that if that's what you want to be.

>> it was a very tough conversation, and there will be more of our interview with suzi hileman and her husband on "dateline" this coming sunday night at 7:00/6:00 central.