The brief footage shows the gunman shooting Rep. Giffords at close range and Judge John Roll who appears to have died while saving the life of another.
TUCSON, Ariz. — An investigator for the first time has described publicly a brief, gory video clip that shows a gunman shooting Rep. Gabrielle Giffords just above the eyebrow at a range of three feet, then using his 9-mm pistol to gun down others at a similarly close range.
The security-camera video, according to Richard Kastigar, investigative and operational bureau chief at the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, also reveals that Judge John Roll appears to have died while saving the life of one of Giffords’ employees. Ronald Barber, who was near Giffords when he was shot twice, has since left the hospital.
Kastigar said the video shows Giffords standing with her back inches from the wall when she was shot by the gunman, who approached in “a hurried fashion” with the gun at his side and then raised it and fired a single bullet above her eye at a range of no more than two or three feet.
Jared Lee Loughner, 22, was arrested in the shootings. The pistol “is down near his right side, but it is visibly out from where he was keeping it, presumably under his clothing, and then he raises it and fires,” Kastigar said. “It happens in a matter of seconds.”
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The gunman “was very deliberate in my estimation, very calculated,” said Kastigar, who viewed the video as part of the extensive investigation that involves close to 250 people.
The video, he said, is in the custody of the FBI.
In describing the video, the most detailed account yet of the initial five-second burst of fire, Kastigar said Roll was “intentionally trying to help Mr. Barber.”
“It’s very clear to me the judge was thinking of his fellow human more than himself,” Kastigar added.
The judge guides Barber to the ground, shields him with his body, and then tries to push both away from the gunman, who was no more than three to four feet away as he fired at both men, Kastigar said.
“He pushes Mr. Barber with his right hand and guides him with his left hand,” Kastigar said. “The judge was on top of him and is covering up Mr. Barber, literally lying on top of him, and his back was exposed.”
The judge was shot in the back.
Other videos from the Safeway supermarket where the shootings took place Jan. 8 show the assailant firing until he has expended his entire magazine.
At that point, he is tackled by two bystanders.
In all, authorities believe 32 bullets were fired by the gunman, one more than previously reported. A woman at the scene found a spent casing in her purse a couple of days after the shootings, sources told The Washington Post.
More than a dozen other video clips provide other new information about the minutes before the shootings, which left six dead and 13 wounded, including Giffords. Some of their contents were first described on The Post’s website Tuesday afternoon.
When a deputy sheriff arrived minutes after the shooting started and took control of Loughner, the deputy removed a set of earplugs from the suspect.
A surveillance photo minutes earlier also shows Loughner inside the Safeway talking to a store clerk and “pointing to his ears because he’s telling the individual that he can’t hear what she’s saying because he’s got earplugs in,” Kastigar said.
He said about 15 minutes elapsed between the time Loughner arrived by cab at the Safeway — and had to go inside to get change to pay the driver — and when the shooting started at 10:10 a.m.
The crucial video showing the shooting of Giffords, Roll and Barber only lasts about five seconds before the gunman steps out of the frame.
At the start of the clip, it shows the “suspect coming from just outside of the frame of the video toward the parking lot,” Kastigar said. “He goes around a table set up for part of that gathering and walks up to Gabby and shoots her directly in the forehead.”
It was not clear from this video, he said, whether Giffords realized what was happening.
The gunman “then turns to his left and indiscriminately shoots at people sitting in chairs along the wall,” he said.
The video does not show those people being shot, he said, because the gunman has stepped out of the frame.
But the gunman quickly is back in the video, which shows him turning to his right and shooting Barber, who had been with Roll “standing side by side with the table to their backs.”
Giffords remains in at University Medical Center in serious condition, and doctors said Tuesday that she “continues to improve physically and neurologically.”
In an exuberant e-mail to family and friends Tuesday morning, Giffords’ mother described remarkable progress by her daughter.
Giffords also said in the message that her daughter would be released from the hospital Friday and flown to a rehabilitation center in Houston to begin aggressive physical and occupational therapy. But Giffords’ staff said no final decision had been made about when or where she would begin rehabilitation.
While Giffords’ doctors have said they are encouraged, they urge caution. Giffords is not trying to speak, they said, and the most difficult challenges are weeks or months away.
Dr. Randall Friese, a trauma surgeon who has operated on Giffords, said Monday that the congresswoman’s husband, Navy Capt. and astronaut Mark Kelly, told him he believed Giffords was now smiling.
“I wasn’t there,” Friese said. “Mark told me that he thought he may have seen her smile. We’re all very optimistic, so we could be wrong. So we all want to see the best, but sometimes we see what we want to see. But if he says she’s smiling, then I buy it.”