I and others have suggested that Judge John Roll, one of the Arizona shooting victims, was an exemplary Catholic. I’ve even personally contended that Judge Roll modeled heroic virtue in the ordinary, saint-making sense of living Christian virtue to a high degree of excellence in his daily life.
Reports this morning suggest that Judge Roll lived heroism in the extraordinary sense as well.
The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that security footage of the shooting clearly shows Judge Roll pushing one of Rep. Giffords’ staff out of the way of oncoming bullets. That bystander, Ron Barber, is Rep. Giffords district director. He was shot but he survived, and was even released in time to come to Judge Roll’s funeral last Friday, which I was honored to attend.
The WSJ interviews Chris Nanos, a captain with the Pima County Sheriff’s Department who has viewed the video.
As the shooting starts, the video shows Judge Roll pushing another man, Rob Barber, onto the ground, Mr. Nanos said. “It looks to us as though he is pushing against Ron Barber to move him out of the way.” Both men fall to the ground; both are shot. The judge was shot in the back and died.
“It’s pretty evident to me that Judge Roll was a hero … if Judge Roll had not pushed Mr. Barber his wounds might have been fatal,” Mr. Nanos said. “Judge Roll’s actions are of a man trying to save another man’s life.”
There were many acts of heroism amidst the tragedy of the Tucson shooting. But it does not surprise me that, like many extraordinarily virtuous Christians throughout the ages, Judge John Roll’s life of high character manifested itself in a dramatically heroic fashion in his final moments.
Describing the video, Mr. [Richard Kastigar, the investigative and operational bureau chief of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department] said the judge was “intentionally trying to help Mr. Barber,” adding, “It’s very clear to me the judge was thinking of his fellow human more than himself.”
The judge guides Mr. Barber to the ground, shields him with his body, and then tries to push himself and Mr. Barber away from the gunman, who was no more than three to four feet away as he fired, Mr. Kastigar said.
“He pushes Mr. Barber with his right hand and guides him with his left hand. The judge was on top of him and is covering up Mr. Barber, literally lying on top of him, and his back was exposed,” Mr. Kastigar said.
The judge was shot in the back.