TUCSON, Ariz. -- Federal Judge John McCarthy Roll was among six people killed in a mass shooting at an event hosted by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson Saturday morning.
Roll, 63, had served Arizona since 1973. He was appointed to the federal court in Tucson in 1991 after being nominated by President George H.W. Bush. Roll became chief judge in 2006.
He has presided over numerous immigration-related cases, at least one of which led to threats against his family.
Two years ago, Roll ruled that a group of illegal immigrants could move ahead with a multi-million dollar civil rights suit against a rancher. The ruling was a controversial one, sparking numerous threats on Roll's life.
Those threats prompted the Marshals Service to provide a security detail for Roll and his wife for about a month.
Roll said four men were identified as the main source of the death threats. On the advice of the Marshals Service, however, Roll did not press charges.
Roll reportedly was not scheduled to be at Saturday morning's "Congress on Your Corner" event. He lived near the Safeway where the event was going on, and went over after attending mass just to chat with Giffords.
Roll was the father of three and grandfather of five.
His funeral is set for 10 a.m. on Friday, January 14.
"All of us in the Ninth Circuit court family were shocked and terribly saddened to learn today of the death of Chief District Judge John M. Roll. Our hearts go out to his family and to all of the families of those killed or injured in this senseless tragedy," said Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
"Judge Roll was a widely respected jurist, a strong and able leader of his court, and a kind, courteous and sincere gentleman. He worked tirelessly to improve the delivery of justice to the people of Arizona. He was always upbeat, optimistic, enthusiastic and positive in his outlook. He touched many lives and will be sorely missed by all who knew him – colleagues, court staff, members of the bar."
“He was famous for being able to say so many genuinely nice things about people without having to consult notes, for he so genuinely loved people and had such a remarkable mind," said Ninth Circuit Judge Mary M. Schroeder of Phoenix. "Judge Roll will be greatly missed and will continue to provide inspiration for the generations of lawyers and judges who were fortunate enough to know him.”
“Caryll and I send our most heartfelt condolences to the fami
ly of Judge John Roll and the others who were killed and injured today in Tucson," said Sen. Jon Kyl in a statement. "Judge Roll, who presided over the federal District Court in Arizona, was an exceptional judge and a good friend."
“I am deeply saddened to hear that Chief Judge John Roll was killed today during the senseless act of violence against Congresswoman Giffords and other Arizonans," said Sen. John McCain. "Words are inadequate to express such a profound loss to his family, friends, state and country, but it is appropriate to note that a man of great qualities and character was struck down today, and the wickedness of this atrocity, which included the murder of a small child, has broken the hearts of many and will be mourned for years to come.
"I am proud to have recommended Judge Roll to President Bush for the federal bench in 1991 and have been extremely proud of his work on the bench since then.
"I am most proud to have called him a friend. Judge Roll dedicated his life to public service and was admired by many for his integrity, kindness and love for the law, for the state of Arizona and our country. He began his career as a bailiff in the Pima County Superior Court and was at his death the Chief Judge for the District of Arizona since 2006. He distinguished himself in every office he held. He will be missed very much.
"Cindy and I are praying for his soul and for his beloved wife and children and the families of all the victims in this terrible moment of sorrow. Our state has lost a good man, a true and able advocate for justice for all and a great Arizonan. May God grant him perpetual peace.”