Susan Annis Hileman’s brother, Jeff Annis, said it was just natural that his sister would take her 9-year-old neighbor, Christina Taylor Green, to see U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords when she visited a supermarket in Tucson on Jan. 8.
No one could have known that Jared Loughner, who has been arrested for the shooting, would open fire, killing six and wounding 13 — including Hileman. As the Herald went to press on Monday, she was still in the hospital at the University of Arizona in Tucson, but was in stable condition.
“She’s the bright, bubbly light that lights up the room when she walks in,” Annis said of his older sister. Hileman, 59, a 1969 graduate of Oceanside High School, was hit three times in the hail of gunfire, with one of the bullets shattering her hip. “Suzi tried to shield the child as the shooter went at them, but it didn’t help,” her brother-in-law, Charles Hileman, explained. Annis said that authorities believe the bullet that went through Hileman’s leg was the same one that killed Green.
“When she’s fully lucid, she knows what happened and she understands that it was the act of a crazy man,” Annis said. “And Suzi was one of the lucky ones. And how do you deal with thinking … that if your leg had been an inch over to the left or to the right, Christina would still be alive? That’s hard.”
Charles Hileman said that Green’s parents reached out to Hileman’s husband, Wilson. “They have been very kind and conciliatory,” he said. “They were good friends, and have been very kind and understanding.”
Hileman’s friends and family describe her as a smart, active woman. She and her husband, Wilson Hileman Jr., met when they both attended Cornell University in the ’70s. They were married in the backyard of Suzi’s family home on Benjamin Road on Aug. 25, 1975.
Annis said that the Hilemans’ daughter, Jenny, has been at her mother’s side since the shooting and has been relaying information to the rest of the family.
“My mom is the toughest broad I’ve ever met,” Jenny posted on her mother’s blog. “She is awake and talking and cracking wise and we can all rest assured that the woman we love is still here, kicking major ass.”
Those who know Hileman know that she will make a full recovery, no matter the prognosis. Her brother described her as a “105-pound ball of energy.”