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Quiet 'Embrace': Jan. 8 shooting remembrance subdued due to COVID

More by Dylan Smith

"Embrace," the memorial to the victims of the Jan. 8, 2011, assassination attempt on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords that left six dead and 13 wounded, has been completed in Downtown Tucson, but is not yet open to the public because of the pandemic. A small bell-ringing ceremony marked the 10th anniversary Friday.

The memorial, in the works for years, was recently completed — there had been plans for a larger-scale public event to mark the anniversary, but the COVID-19 outbreak curtailed that possibility.

Instead, Ron Barber, who was shot twice during the attack, gave brief remarks and then, as has become a tradition to mark the day of the massacre, the names of those killed and wounded were read, with each punctuated by the sharp, quick peal of a bell rung by a firefighter in a dress uniform.

Barber, who was a top staffer for Giffords and present at the 2011 constituent meet-and-greet that was attacked by a schizophrenic gunman, was later elected to take her place in Congress. He now works for U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly (Giffords' husband, who was just elected) and serves as the president of the January 8 Memorial Foundation.

Just before the bell-ringing remembrance, Rev. Joe Fitzgerald, Banner University Medical Center chaplain, offered a prayer.

Pima County officials hope to open the "Embrace" memorial, in El Presidio Park next to the Historic Courthouse, to the public by early February, if the status of the pandemic permits it to be done safely.

The memorial features sloping walls with symbols depicting the values and interests held by each of the six people who died and the 13 survivors.

Killed

  • Christina-Taylor Green, 9
  • Dorothy "Dot" Morris, 76
  • John Roll, 63
  • Dorwin Stoddard, 76
  • Phyllis Schneck, 79
  • Gabe Zimmerman, 30

Wounded

  • Bill Badger
  • Ron Barber
  • Kenneth Dorushka
  • James Fuller
  • Randy Gardner
  • Gabrielle Giffords
  • Susan Hileman
  • George Morris
  • Mary Reed
  • Pamela Simon
  • Mavanell Stoddard
  • James Tucker
  • Kenneth Veeder

Biden: 'Too many have known the pain of gun violence'

President-elect Joe Biden marked the anniversary, releasing at statement pledging to continue working to end gun violence:

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Ten years ago today, in Tucson, Arizona, six innocent lives were taken away by a senseless and brutal act of violence: Dorothy Morris, Judge John Roll, Phyllis Scheck, Dorwin Stoddard, Gabriel Zimmerman, and nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green. In the decade since, too many families have known the pain of losing a loved one to gun violence, of futures stolen and dreams cut down before their time. Today, Jill and I remember the people we lost in Tucson, and all of the families whose lives were irreversibly changed that day.

Among those wounded in that horrific attack was my friend Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, whose perseverance and immeasurable courage in the years since has been an inspiration to millions. Like so many survivors of violence, Gabby has turned tragedy into purpose, working with other leaders across the country to transform the fight for gun safety reform from a cause to a movement. Every day she fights to make our communities safer and move us closer to our goal of a nation free from gun violence. As president, I pledge to continue to work together with Congresswoman Giffords, and with survivors, families, and advocates across the country, to defeat the NRA and end the epidemic of gun violence in America.

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