Bell Ringing on Jan. 8 to Remember 2011 Shootings, Unveil Memorial

Tucsonans will observe the 10th anniversary of the Jan. 8, 2011 shootings that claimed six lives and wounded 13 others this Friday. The bell ringing at the Historic County Courthouse will be closed to the public due to the ongoing pandemic, but will be live-streamed.

The ceremony may be viewed on Pima County’s Facebook page and several local television stations, including KVOA, are expected to broadcast the event.

Former Congressman Ron Barber, president of the January 8 Memorial Foundation that raised money for the memorial, said the foundation board unanimously supports the decision to not have an in-person anniversary observance. Barber was Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ district director and among those wounded in 2011.

“Every January 8th remembrance is special to us, but the upcoming anniversary was to be particularly meaningful, since it will be both the 10th anniversary of the tragedy and the opening of the memorial we have worked on for so many years,” Barber said.

“But what is most important to all of us is protecting those who gather each year to mark this event. We would never do anything to put them or any other person in danger because of COVID. We are in agreement with the decision to make this anniversary event entirely virtual. It is sad but completely understandable.”

The event will include:

  • Presentation of flags from an honor guard comprising representatives from the Northwest Fire District, Pima County Sheriff’s Department and other first responders
  • Remarks from Barber
  • Prayer offered by Rev. Joe Fitzgerald, Banner University Medical Center chaplain
  • Bell ringing at exactly 10:10 a.m. to coincide with when the first shots were fired

The ceremony will then segue into an eight-minute video produced by Pima County’s communications office reviewing some of the events of the day, an introduction to the memorial, how it came together and the reactions of some of the survivors and family members of victims who have toured the memorial.

The memorial, located just west of the courthouse in El Presidio Park, 115 N. Church Ave., and called “Embrace,” tells the story of the lives lost and people wounded at the hand of a gunman on January 8, 2011, at Giffords’ “Congress on Your Corner” event in Tucson. It features sloping walls that depict symbols embodying the values and interests held by each of the six people who died and the 13 survivors.

In addition, the memorial showcases symbols dedicated to the community of first responders, Tucson’s history, and the aspirations of the community for the future. The memorial also features gardens named for each of the six victims.

Tucson’s January 8th Memorial Foundation is a non-profit 501c3 organized to fund and build a permanent memorial commemorating the Jan. 8 shootings. The firm CHEE SALETTE, founded in 2009 by Tina Chee and Marc Salette, created the memorial following a national design competition.

County officials hope to have the memorial open to the public by early February, depending on the status of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

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