Federal district judge among those killed in Arizona shooting

A federal judge was one of the victims of the shooting Saturday that targeted Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).

U.S. District Judge John Roll was appointed to the federal bench in 1991 by then-President George H.W. Bush.

Even though he had faced previous threats, Roll was in the wrong place at the wrong time during the shooting rampage.

According to authorities, Roll had gone to Mass on Saturday, as he did every morning, then as he knew Giffords decided to stop around the corner and say hi.

Then the shooting started, leaving at least six dead, including Roll, and 13 injured.

Roll had been put under federal protection last year after he made a ruling in a civil rights lawsuit.

In 2009 Roll ruled that a $32 million civil-rights case between illegal immigrants and an Arizona rancher could go forward, according to the Arizona Republic. Roll was put under the protection of the U.S. Marshals Service after he received threats, including more than 200 threatening phone calls in one afternoon.

"It was unnerving and invasive. ... By its nature it has to be," Roll told the Arizona Republic. "It was handled very professionally by the Marshals Service."


In a statement Saturday on the shooting, President Obama confirmed Roll and a 9-year-old child had been killed in the shooting.

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said in a statement this afternoon that she was "deeply saddened" by the death of the chief federal judge in Arizona. 

“I am deeply saddened by reports that Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Chief Judge John Roll and others were attacked this afternoon in Tucson, Arizona," Napolitano said in the press release. "There is no place in our society or discourse for such senseless and unconscionable acts of violence. 

"Gabby is a steadfast representative for southern Arizona and both she and John are dedicated public servants."

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in a statement that "words are inadequate to express such a profound loss."

"I am proud to have recommended Judge Roll to President Bush for the federal bench in 1991 and have been extremely proud of his work on the bench since then," McCain said. "I am most proud to have called him a friend."

The senator said his state had lost "a good man, a true and able advocate for justice for all," and he added, "May God grant him perpetual peace."

In his speech, Obama praised Roll's decades of legal service. The judge began his career as a bailiff in the Pima County Superior Court.

"Among them were John Roll, who has served America's legal system for almost forty years," Obama said. 

Giffords was shot in the head. The bullet went through her temple, and doctors say they are optimistic about her prognosis. 


—This post was updated at 8:10 p.m.