U.S. Rep. Ron Barber addressed Jared Lee Loughner at his court sentencing today.
Barber, who was district director for then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was shot and severely wounded in the attack on Jan. 8, 2011.
Here is his statement to the court:
“Thank you, Judge Burns for this opportunity to address the court and the defendant.
Standing beside me is my wife of 45 years, Nancy Barber and our two daughters, Jenny Douglas and Crissi Blake.
Your honor, I would like to request your permission to address the defendant.
Mr. Loughner, this is only the third time I have seen you. The last time was at the hearing in this courthouse, when you pled guilty to the charges that bring you to this sentencing hearing today. The first was on that fateful morning of January 8, 2011.
On that day, your violent actions took the lives of six wonderful people and wounded 13 more.
That was a day that shocked our community and broke our hearts and we struggled to make sense of it. But there is no way to make sense of those senseless acts.
I, and many others, have physical and mental wounds that will be with us for the rest of our lives.
My family suffered greatly and our lives are forever changed. Six families lost loved ones and their hearts will ache for as long as they live.
I will never forget seeing one of my dearest colleagues die at my side — a young man I worked closely with every day for more than five years.
He was my go-to guy and a human being with so much compassion and a great commitment to service.
Gabe Zimmerman was the first person we hired to work in Congresswoman Giffords’ office and he was beloved by constituents and staff alike. Gabe was a social worker whose brief life was dedicated to helping others.
His career was just getting underway and he was soon to be married. His fiancé, Kelly, mourns his death and the lost promises of their life together. That wonderful life was cut short by your actions Mr. Loughner.
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords apparently was your initial target and we are all thankful that she survived your attempt to take her life.
While her work as member of Congress was disrupted, you did not take away her determination and compassion – nor her desire to serve. Her recovery has been an inspiration to the entire country.
You did not diminish her one bit. In fact, the whole world now knows the full measure of this great leader and the civility she has brought to our political process.
The tragedy your brutal violence inflicted was not — and will not — be the event that defines who we are individually or as a community.
This tragedy has shown us so much about what it means to help each other.
Each of us has focused on what we can do to improve our community as a result of that horrific experience.
That is what I want to talk about this morning.
We saw the courage of strangers who came to our aid and the skills of doctors who saved lives.
We saw first responders move in quickly and with professional calm, treat the wounded at the scene
We saw our community spontaneously build memorials to those we lost and those who were wounded.
We saw great kindness, compassion and caring as we all began our healing.
Since the tragedy, I have been reflecting on and speaking about what we can do to prevent another such violent episode.
We must renew our efforts to increase community awareness and knowledge of the symptoms, prevention and treatment of mental illness.
We know for a fact that 90 percent of people with a mental illness never commit a violent act.
In your case, Mr. Loughner, I believe that your behaviors preceding the shooting should have alerted others that you needed mental health treatment.
Had this happened, the violent acts you committed might never have taken place.
Now you must pay the price for the terror, injuries and deaths you caused.
I am in full agreement with the plea bargain that resulted in you pleading guilty to the charges and that you will spend the rest of your life away from society.
I want to thank the attorneys in this case — all of them on both sides who worked together to reach an agreement that is best for all concerned.
I am grateful that all of us will be spared the painful ordeal of a lengthy legal process followed by unending appeals.
I also want to express my appreciation to the Victim Witness staff with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Victim Services staff of the Pima County Attorney’s Office.
They have been a lifeline for all of us and their support has been invaluable throughout this legal process and our recovery.
In closing I want to address your parents, Mr. Loughner.
Mr. and Mrs. Loughner, please know that I hold no animosity toward you and that I can appreciate how devastating the acts of your son must be to you.
Finally, to you, Mr. Loughner.
I hold no hatred for you but I am very angry and sick at heart about what you have done and the hurt you have caused to all of us.
You now must live with this burden and never again see the outside of a prison.
May these long years of incarceration give you time to think about what you have done and to seek forgiveness from those into whose lives you have brought so many tears and so much sadness.
Thank you your honor.”