Judge Roll shielded Barber, video shows

2011-01-20T00:00:00Z Judge Roll shielded Barber, video shows Arizona Daily Star
January 20, 2011 12:00 am

John Roll was called a fair federal judge and a loving family man at his funeral. Now some are also calling him a hero.

Surveillance footage of the Jan. 8 shooting rampage in Tucson showed that he used his body as a shield to cover the wounded Ron Barber. Roll then took a bullet to the back and lost his life in the process.

"The judge is a hero," Pima County sheriff's Bureau Chief Rick Kastigar said.

Acts of heroism - the intern running toward a gravely wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the bystanders tackling the gunman - helped lift the spirits of a shocked nation soon after the shooting.

The new details from the surveillance video showed the full extent of Roll's visit to the supermarket where Giffords was holding a meet-and-greet event with constituents.

Kastigar said he watched the first part of the video, which has been turned over to the FBI. The agency has declined to release it. Kastigar described the video's contents.

"You know, I've been a cop for three decades and I've seen some pretty traumatic and disturbing things, and this was very, very upsetting to watch this," Kastigar said.

The video showed Jared Lee Loughner, 22, shooting the Democratic lawmaker in the forehead from several feet away, Kastigar said.

The video shows Loughner turning toward a group of people sitting in chairs, then stepping out of view. Kastigar said that's when Loughner indiscriminately fired at the seated group.

Loughner then shot Barber, Giffords' district director. Almost simultaneously, Roll moved Barber toward the ground and both crawled beneath a table, Kastigar said. Roll then got on top of Barber.

"Judge Roll is responsible for directing Mr. Barber out of the line of fire and helped save his life," Kastigar said.

Barber said he read descriptions of the video in online news stories, late Tuesday and Wednesday.

He recalls speaking with Roll and turning toward Giffords just before the shooting began, so he was still close to the judge.

"What I remember is being shot, then some jostling, body contact," Barber said.

Maybe, unbeknownst to him, that jostling was an attempt to save him.

If the descriptions are accurate, Barber said, "That just gives me more admiration for the judge than I ever had. If that resulted in him being shot and killed, I feel terrible about that."

"John Roll was a dear, dear man."

It was not the only act of heroism that helped save Barber's life that day. Passer-by Anna Ballis stanched his bleeding until paramedics arrived and rushed him to the hospital.

Roll and five others died in the attack. Barber was among 13 people shot and wounded.

Kastigar provided the details to a reporter from The Associated Press. He did not respond to interview requests Wednesday, and the Sheriff's Department issued a short statement saying it would no longer answer media questions regarding the case, citing a "controversy" with the county prosecutor's office.

The images, which have not previously been described in detail, offer glimpses of Loughner inside the store. They also show him walking toward the area outside where Giffords was staging the constituent event, sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing criminal probe, told The Washington Post.

One video shows Loughner talking to a clerk while pointing to his ears to signal that he cannot hear, the sources said. Authorities believe he went into the store bathroom and put on earplugs before the shootings.

Other videos from the store show the assailant firing until he has expended his entire magazine. At that point, he is tackled by bystanders.

In all, authorities believe that Loughner shot 32 rounds, one more than had been previously reported. A woman who was at the scene found a spent casing in her purse a couple of days after the incident, the sources said. Though the extended magazine clip that Loughner allegedly used holds only 31 bullets, investigators believe he had another bullet loaded in the chamber when the attack began.

Two of the bullets went through the Safeway's windows, said assistant store manager Javier Rivas. One traveled through a wall, hit a ceiling tile and ended up on the meat department floor.

The other landed in a pack of 7-Up on display in the front of the store, Rivas said in an interview. The manager found that bullet after noticing liquid on the floor and soda leaking out of a bottle.

The videos are considered powerful evidence in building a criminal case against Loughner, 22, but state and federal authorities are working on numerous fronts. More than 250 federal agents and 130 local detectives have conducted more than 300 interviews since the rampage. They have carefully tracked bullets fired into the Safeway window and the store's 7-Up display, and even found one in a woman's purse, authorities said.

The FBI also has confiscated two hard drives and a safe found in Loughner's room, but the sources declined to say what was found on the computer drives.

Yet authorities remain stumped about the suspect's motives, according to dozens of law enforcement officials, witnesses, victims and Loughner associates interviewed by The Washington Post.

Loughner's parents, Randy and Amy, have told investigators they had little recent contact with their son. Authorities are looking into an incident the morning of the shooting, when Randy Loughner chased his son into the desert after spotting him with a bag believed to hold ammunition. They also are examining whether the parents provided money he used to buy a gun and ammunition.

With little help coming from the immediate family, investigators are probing associates and witnesses for details that could help them fill out the "jigsaw puzzle" of Loughner's life, as one source described it.

It could take weeks for investigators to fully determine Loughner's state of mind in the days before the rampage, the sources said.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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