(CN) – A new Yuma, Ariz., courthouse has been named for Chief U.S. District Judge John Roll, who was killed in the 2011 shooting that wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson.
Roll, the chief federal judge in Arizona, went to a “Congress on Your Corner” event Giffords was holding in a Safeway parking lot in Casas Adobes on Jan. 8, 2011, after he attended Sunday morning Mass.
As Giffords spoke with constituents at 10 a.m., Roll approached her to say hello.
Moments later, a man in the crowd approached with a 9mm Glock pistol and began firing.
Judge Roll was among the six people Jared Lee Loughner shot to death. Security video retrieved by police showed that 63-year-old Roll died shielding Giffords’ aide Ron Barber, who succeeded the Democratic politician in Congress in 2012.
Thirteen people were injured and Giffords suffered a serious gunshot wound to the head.
“I don’t remember much of that day,” Giffords wrote in an opinion piece for the Arizona Republic on April 24, the day Roll was honored outside the new courthouse. “But in an instant he, who had for decades been both a dutiful and exceptional agent of justice for so many Americans, took a bullet that might have killed one other.
“When I think about what I want the rest of my life to be, I think about Judge Roll. A man of family, faith and foundational love for our country, he spent his life in the service of others. And then he died as a hero.
“Today, his name goes on the new Federal Courthouse in Yuma. It’s a fitting honor for a man of such high achievement and sacrifice. I hope the courthouse can also be a beacon for all those who seek to dedicate themselves to service and justice, and a reminder of how we all should live,” Giffords wrote.
Giffords, Roll’s three sons, U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, and other lawmakers were among the 500 people who attended the dedication ceremony.
The $33.4 million, 56,800-square-foot sandstone courthouse was a “top priority” for Roll before he died, the U.S. Court’s The Third Branch News said in newsletter.
After joining the federal bench in 1991, Roll was the District of Arizona’s chief judge from 2006 until his death.
“John gave his full attention to every endeavor he undertook, and the Yuma courthouse was no exception,” Roll’s widow Maureen Roll wrote in a statement presented at the ceremony. “To everyone who has been so caring and supportive over the last three years, my family and I are eternally grateful.”
The Southwestern-style courthouse includes two magistrate judge courtrooms, judges’ chambers, jury facilities, and room for probation, pretrial staff, clerks and U.S. Marshals Service. Solar panels hang over the entrance of the environmentally friendly building, which will also accommodate U.S. District Court and bankruptcy court judges.
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