/ Modified jan 9, 2014 10:13 a.m.

Jan. 8 Permanent Memorial Planning Begins New Stage

Three years after tragedy, location selected at Pima County Courthouse; design ideas underway.


The local memorial to the victims of the Jan. 8, 2011 shooting in Tucson will be downtown, not at one of the makeshift memorials created in the days after the shooting.

The decision was announced this week, corresponding with the third anniversary of the shooting, where six people were killed and U.S. Rep. Ron Barber and then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords were among the 13 wounded.

The January 8th Memorial Foundation considered placing the memorial near the Safeway at North Oracle and West Ina roads, where the shooting occurred, or at Giffords' congressional office near North Swan Road and East Pima Street.

Both were locations where temporary memorials stood for weeks following the shooting.

Mourners created another temporary memorial at University of Arizona Medical Center.

The foundation decided the official memorial should honor the Congress On Your Corner event, which was interrupted by the shooting, said Stephen Brigham, president of the January 8th Memorial Foundation. Such event was intended to be an exchange of ideas between residents and their representative in Congress; a democratic event, he explained.

That's why the foundation decided to put the permanent memorial in downtown Tucson, where local, state and federal buildings stand. Earlier this week, it was announced that the official memorial would stand at the Pima County Courthouse.

"This is an exciting week because yesterday the (Pima County) Board of Supervisors passed a resolution to acknowledge that this is a site they would give to us," Brigham said.

Wednesday night, the Tucson City Council is scheduled to consider a similar resolution supporting the location.

"We knew we had to find a permanent memorial place and that place became downtown," he said. "The location reflects a place where people interact with their government elected officials. "It's the perfect intersection between City Hall and the Pima County Courthouse."

The shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, pleaded guilty to the crime and is serving a series of life sentences in a federal prison facility.

Next, the foundation plans to solicit public feedback about design ideas for the memorial.

It will not be relying solely on funding from local governments to create it, Brigham said, and the total cost for a memorial will be unknown until a design concept is identified.

The memorial plans to also include a space where items left at the temporary memorials can be viewed, which will likely be inside the historic courthouse after renovations, Brigham said.

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