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John Roll

Arizona Congresswoman shot


Six people were killed and 12 others wounded — including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords — in a shooting outside a Tucson, Arizona, grocery store where the congresswoman was holding a constituent meeting, police said.

The suspect in the shooting was in custody, according to U.S. Capitol Police, who did not identify the alleged gunman.

Darci Slaten, a spokeswoman for University Medical Center in Tucson, said Giffords, 40, was undergoing surgery Saturday afternoon for a gunshot wound to the head.

Local law enforcement officials have not provided a public accounting of the injuries, but President Obama called the shooting an “unspeakable tragedy,” and said “some have passed away,” according to a statement from the White House. He said Giffords was “gravely wounded.”

A federal judge was also killed in this attack. He had received numerous death threats in 2009 as the result of a ruling he made in a civil suit.

In February, when U.S. District Judge John Roll presided over a $32 million civil-rights lawsuit filed by illegal immigrants against an Arizona rancher, the Marshals Service was anticipating the fallout.

When Roll ruled the case could go forward, [US Marshall David] Gonzales said talk-radio shows cranked up the controversy and spurred audiences into making threats.

In one afternoon, Roll logged more than 200 phone calls. Callers threatened the judge and his family. They posted personal information about Roll online.

“They said, ‘We should kill him. He should be dead,’ ” Gonzales said.

Roll, who is the chief federal judge in Arizona, said both he and his wife were given a protection detail for about a month.

“It was unnerving and invasive. . . . By its nature it has to be,” Roll said, adding that they were encouraged to live their lives as normally as possible. “It was handled very professionally by the Marshals Service.”

While Rep. Giffords is thankfully expected to survive, one of the fatalities is reported to be a nine year old girl. I’m just sick to my stomach. We don’t know yet what the motivation was of the shooter, but given all of the violent rhetoric and imagery that has infected our politics lately, it’s not hard to speculate about possible causes. In the meantime, I pray for the full recovery of all of the injured, and for peace for the families of the dead.