Federal Judge John Roll Killed In Arizona Shooting

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January 8, 2011 10:21 a.m.

John Roll, Arizona’s chief federal judge, was killed in the same incident in which Rep. Gabby Giffords was shot on Saturday morning.

A federal law enforcement official first confirmed to TPM that a federal judge was shot. The U.S. Marshals Service is on the scene of the shooting, the federal official told TPM. The Marshals Service employees responded to the scene after the shooting, the official said.

WNBC reporter Jonathan Dienst confirmed Roll was killed. A statement from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a statement that Roll had been attacked.

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Roll faced death threats in 2009 after presiding over a $32 million civil-rights lawsuit, the Arizona Republic reported:

When Roll ruled the case could go forward, 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.”

At the end of the month, Roll said four key men had been identified as threat makers.

The Marshals Service left to him the decision to press charges but recommended against it. Roll said he had no qualms about following their advice.

The recommendation was based on the intent of those making the threats.

“I have a very strong belief that there is nothing wrong with criticizing a judicial decision,” he said. “But when it comes to threats, that is an entirely different matter.”

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated since it was first published.

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