Phoenix-based artist Maggie Keane, who has drawn courtroom sketches from high-profile cases for 30 years, said Monday’s court appearance by accused Tucson shooter Jared Loughner was one of the most intense she has seen.
Keane was present in the U.S. District Court in Phoenix on Monday for Loughner’s initial appearance in connection to Saturday’s assassination attempt on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords that left her critically wounded, six dead including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl, and 14 wounded.
“I haven’t seen this much intensity or sadness since Don Bolles was killed,” Keane said. “There’s just an atmosphere of such sadness.”
Bolles, a reporter for the Arizona Republic, died 11 days after his car exploded after a remote explosive device was detonated in a downtown Phoenix parking lot on June 2, 1976 in what many believed was an investigation into a land deal that involved the mafia.
More than 100 members of the media were present Monday when the 22-year-old Loughner appeared before the judge with his attorney, Judy Clark, who also represented Timothy McVeigh and Unibomber Ted Kyczinski. Keane, who was in Judge Lawrence O. Anderson’s courtroom where Loughner appeared with a shaved head, in handcuffs and shackles, drew Loughner with a smirk on his face for the CNN network since cameras or recording devices are not allowed in federal court.
The feeling of shock and sadness from the shooting outside a north Tucson Safeway grocery store still was apparent in front of the Sandra Day O’Connor U.S. District Court building Monday. Numerous media camera tripods were lined up as a crowd of about 20 onlookers were scattered in the patio in front of the courthouse just to see if they could catch a glimpse of Loughner or show support for the families of the victims.
Johann Bass and his wife, Christian, who live in Phoenix but had lived in Tucson, said they were at the courthouse with their 2-year-old son on Monday to show support for the victims.
“This hits close to home,” said Christian Bass. “We used to shop at that Safeway all the time. It’s scary. This is a time for all Americans to come together. This is not what our country is about.”
Kate Sivolella, who lives in downtown Phoenix and protested against the illegal immigration bill, SB 1070, said she came to the courthouse to see part of a major news event happening in her backyard.
“It’s just a sick feeling,” said Sivolella, a New Jersey native. “It’s so close to home. It’s definitely been an ugly year for Arizona. The bad part is, everybody here can carry a gun. It’s crazy.”