Police have revealed that a new chilling surveillance video has surfaced that shows the shooting in graphic detail and reveals a new detail: Judge John M. Roll was a true and until now unsung hero.
Aside from other tidbits that now add some details — the gunman wore earphones as he came up quickly and shot Gabrielle Giffords from less than three feet — the fact now emerges that Judge Roll literally threw himself on top of a Giffords staffer to save him. He did and in the process died of his own wounds:
The chief investigator for the sheriff’s department here has for the first time publicly described the brief and gory video clip from a store security camera that shows a gunman not only shooting Representative Gabrielle Giffords just above the eyebrow at a range of three feet, but then using his 9-millimeter pistol to gun down others near her at a similarly close range.
The video, according to Richard Kastigar, the investigative and operational bureau chief of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, also reveals that Judge John M. Roll appears to have died while helping to save the life of Ronald Barber, a Giffords employee. Mr. Barber, who was near Ms. Giffords when he was shot twice, has left the hospital.
Mr. Kastigar said Tuesday that the video shows Ms. Giffords standing with her back a few inches from a wall when she was shot by the gunman, who approached in “a hurried fashion” with the gun at his side and then raised it and fired a single bullet above her eye at a range of no more than two or three feet.
The gunman was Jared L. Loughner, 22, who has been arrested. He is first seen in the video with the gun hidden, but then he raises it and fires all in a matter of seconds.
The gunman “was very deliberate in my estimation, very calculated,” said Mr. Kastigar, who viewed the video as part of the extensive investigation by the Sheriff’s Department that involves close to 250 people…
Describing the video, Mr. Kastigar said the judge was “intentionally trying to help Mr. Barber,” adding, “It’s very clear to me the judge was thinking of his fellow human more than himself.”
The judge guides Mr. Barber to the ground, shields him with his body, and then tries to push himself and Mr. Barber away from the gunman, who was no more than three to four feet away as he fired, Mr. Kastigar said.
“He pushes Mr. Barber with his right hand and guides him with his left hand. The judge was on top of him and is covering up Mr. Barber, literally lying on top of him, and his back was exposed,” Mr. Kastigar said.
The judge was shot in the back. Ms. Giffords remains in the hospital in serious condition, and doctors said Tuesday that she continued to improve.
When the accounts of this tragic and shocking event are written, they’ll now include Roll as someone who literally threw himself on top of a Giffords staffer to save another human being’s life.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.