The Pima County Sheriff’s Department released 580 photos this morning that investigators took in the aftermath of the Tucson shooting rampage.
About two-thirds of the photos are of individual vehicles in the parking lot of the Safeway shopping center on the northwest side where the shooting took place in January 2011. Six people were killed in the shooting and a dozen were wounded, including former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
The photos include images of the handgun and high-capacity pistol magazines used by Jared Lee Loughner to carry out the attack as well as photos of the motel room he rented the night before the rampage, the taxi to took to the grocery store and clothing and cell phones. Other routine photos that were part of the investigation as authorities gathered evidence at the scene also were released.
However, the sheriff’s department withheld “a great number of pictures” that showed victims of the shooting, Deputy Tom Peine, a spokesman for the PCSD, said.
Another spokesman, Deputy Jesus Bañuelos, said the department’s legal advisor made the final decision about which photos to released based on content.
Surveillance video from the grocery store parking lot is in the hands of the FBI and has not been released, Peine said.
The images were released nearly two months after the sheriff’s department made public roughly 2,700 pages of investigative reports examining the shooting, marking the public’s first view into documents that authorities had kept private since the attack.
Those records provided more detail about the deteriorating psychological condition of Loughner in the hours leading up to the attack and the first glimpse into Loughner’s family.
News organizations seeking police records and photos from the shooting were denied access in the months after the attack and after the arrest of Loughner, who was sentenced in November to seven consecutive life sentences, plus 140 years, after he pleaded guilty to 19 federal charges.
In late February, U.S. District Judge Larry Burns cleared the way for the release of the photos and records after the Arizona Daily Star, joined by Phoenix Newspapers Inc., which publishes The Arizona Republic, and KPNX-TV, sought their release. The judge said Loughner’s right to a fair trial was no longer on the line now that his criminal case has resolved.