Courthouse named for judge killed in Tucson attack

A new federal courthouse under construction in Yuma is being named after a judge killed in the Tucson mass shooting.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the John M. Roll United States Courthouse was held Thursday afternoon in Yuma.

Work on the courthouse is expected to be completed in spring 2013.

The new complex will house two magistrate courtrooms, judges' chambers, jury facilities, U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services, District and Bankruptcy Court Services and the U.S. Marshals Service.

Among the speakers at Thursday's ceremony was Ron Barber, who was wounded in the Jan. 8 shooting and was Roll's college buddy.

Barber recalled that he was standing next to Roll and talking to him when the gunfire broke out.

Barber said Roll pushed him to the ground and "may well have given his life to save mine."

Police say surveillance video of the shooting shows Roll pushing Barber to the ground, helping him crawl under a table and lying on top of him.

Roll, 63, was fatally shot in the back. Five others were killed that day and 13 people were wounded, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Barber, 65, was shot twice — once in the left cheek and once in the left thigh. He was hospitalized for six days and still is undergoing physical therapy.

Barber plans to return to work July 5 on a part-time basis as he continues to rehab. He's district director for Giffords and supervises 11 employees in the congresswoman's offices in Tucson and Sierra Vista.

Just days before his death, the Yuma Sun said Roll had signed off on the design of the 56,800-square-foot federal courthouse — a project he had considered his top priority over the past few years to make a reality.

"He was the real deal," Barber said of Roll. "This courthouse will help us remember that."