Final design for Tucson shooting memorial released

AP News
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Posted: Jan 15, 2016 9:26 PM
Final design for Tucson shooting memorial released

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Carved symbols along a dark red steel wall will be among the various parts of a large memorial to honor victims of the mass shooting in Tucson that gravely wounded then-U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords.

Memorial organizers released a final design Friday and said they continue to raise money from private donors.

The Jan. 8, 2011, shooting at a Giffords event left six dead and 13 wounded. Giffords was the target. Others killed included 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, U.S. District Court Judge John Roll and Giffords aide Gabe Zimmerman, who was 30.

Giffords and her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, founded an advocacy group after the shooting that helped persuade President Barack Obama to take executive action on gun control.

Shooter Jared Loughner pleaded guilty to 19 federal charges and will spend the rest of his life in prison.

The memorial will be at downtown Tucson's historic El Presidio Park and will cost about $4 million.

The nonprofit January 8th Foundation, responsible for getting the memorial built, has already raised about $1 million in private donations and recently received a $50,000 pledge match from an anonymous donor, executive director Crystal Kasnoff said.

"The memorial is more than a place to remember what we lost, but it's a place to remember how we came together as a community," Kasnoff said.

Symbols carved in the red steel wall, which will have a diamond-like shape, will tell stories about the shooting, its victims, survivors, first responders and general Tucson history.

For example, the symbols used for Zimmerman might be a saguaro cactus and a mountain because he was an outdoorsman who loved the desert. The symbol for one of the shooting survivors may be an apple on a book because he is a teacher who grew up on an apple orchard.

The symbol that will be used for Giffords is of two wedding bands intertwined. Giffords had a habit of playing with her wedding band before the shooting. While hospitalized, one of the first things she did was grab Kelly's ring, according to the designer of the symbols.

The renovated park will be outside the memorial wall. Part of that upgrade will include an overhaul of a fountain in the middle of the park.

Architect Marc Salette said the memorial will provide a place for the community to reflect on its history.

"And you can then be in a very special place while you're still in the view of the city," he said.

Organizers also plan to incorporate items left as makeshift memorials at the shooting site into the park. Thousands of items including teddy bears, flowers and posters displayed last year at the Arizona State Museum in Tucson are being stored in a warehouse.

Tucson-area public memorials already exist for some victims. A trail was named after Zimmerman and a park for 9-year-old Christina-Taylor.