Tucson shooting: Major findings in Loughner files
March 27, 2013 9:58 am
Documents released Wednesday provide new insight into how the Tucson shooting rampage occurred and the motivations behind gunman Jared Loughner.
One of the main themes to emerge was the increasingly erratic behavior of Loughner, perhaps summed up best by his father as he told investigators: He “just doesn’t seem right lately.”
A look at some of the major findings so far today:
The gunman was polite and cooperative with authorities who were holding him the afternoon following his morning shooting rampage. The conversation as Loughner sat in restraints in an interview room was mainly small talk. Little was said over the four hours. Loughner asks at one point if he can please use the restroom and says “Thank you” when allowed. At another point he complained that “I’m about ready to fall over.”
Loughner’s mother, Amy, described his run-ins with authorities, his use of marijuana and cocaine, his journals and his increasingly erratic behavior. She also says the parents took a shotgun away from Loughner after he was kicked out of a community college and tested him for drugs because his behavior was so strange.
Randy Loughner said his son became increasingly difficult, and it was a challenge to have a rational conversation with him. “I tried to talk to him. But you can’t, he wouldn’t let you,” he said “Lost, lost, and just didn’t want to communicate with me no more.”
Despite their son’s increasingly bizarre behavior, Loughner’s parents never sent him to get help. Randy Loughner said that his son had never been diagnosed with a mental illness. Had he seen a doctor, the detective asked. “No,” replied the father. The parents were also asked about any journals or writings that Loughner kept. The father said they were written in an indecipherable script.
DISABLING HIS CAR
Loughner’s parents “noticed that Jared was not acting quite right … and believed it was to have started when he was kicked out of Pima Community College for a YouTube video he had created.”
Randy Loughner said his son had become “more and more distant from them and he would not communicate with Mr. Loughner about much of anything.”
Randy Loughner became so concerned about his son’s behavior that he “began to disable Jared’s Nova … to prevent Jarred from being able to drive anywhere at night.”
However, the night before the shooting, Randy Loughner did not disable the car and heard his son drive away at 6 a.m. Jared Loughner returned home an hour or two.
When Randy Loughner heard his son pull up, “he looked outside of his front window and saw Jared take what appeared to be a black backpack out of the trunk of his Nova.”
Christina-Taylor Green’s parents asked for their daughter’s clothing, earrings and iPod Touch to be returned. Deputies returned the earrings as well as images from the iPod Touch. They gave the family a disc with the electronic files and 8x10 printouts of the photos.
GOING TO THE SCENE
Loughner went to a convenience store immediately before the shooting and had the clerk call a cab for him. As he waited for the car, he was pacing inside and outside the store and went to the bathroom three or four times. The employee said that as Loughner was waiting for the cab, he looked up at a clock and said, “nine twenty-five, I still got time.”
Loughner was pulled over earlier in the day for a traffic violation by a wildlife agent. He inched toward the intersection, then drove through the red light while making eye contact with the agent in the rearview mirror. He cried and said, “I’ve just had a rough time,” and then composed himself, thanked the agent and shook his hand after he was let go with a warning. The agent asked Loughner again if he was OK, and Loughner said he was going home.
Giffords intern Daniel Hernandez helped tend to his boss after she was shot in the head. In an interview, he described the chaos: “She couldn’t open her eyes. I tried to get any responses for her. Um, it looked like her left side was the only side that was still mobile. Um, she couldn’t speak. It was mumbled. She was squeezing my hand.
“I did some training as a Certified Nursing Assistant and as a phlebotomist, um, when I was in high school. So I knew that we need to see if she’s got a pulse. She was still breathing. Her breathing was getting shallower. Uh, I then lifted her up so that she wasn’t flat on the ground against the wall,” he said.
Loughner bought a 12-gauge shotgun in 2008, but his parents took it away from him after he was expelled from college and administrators recommended that any firearms be taken away. The shotgun was the only gun his parents knew Loughner owned.
On the day of the mass shooting, Loughner tried to buy ammunition at a Walmart on La Cholla Boulevard.A store clerk thought he was acting so odd and erratic that he decided to lie and tell Loughner the store was out of stock.
Loughner bought the ammunition he wanted at another Walmart store on Cortaro Road.
Earlier that week, Loughner had told a Walmart employee that he tried to enlist in the Army and that he believed Americans are brainwashed by the government.
CARING FOR GIFFORDS
A firefighter described how he cared for Giffords after arriving at the scene. “You’d ask her to grab your hand and she would grab your hand,” he said. He and paramedics rushed her to the hospital in an ambulance, giving her oxygen and an IV.
Hernandez described how constituents and other people were lining up to see Giffords, and he was helping people sign in. He recalled handing Loughner a clipboard. “The next thing I hear is someone yell, ‘gun,’” he said.
One-time Loughner friend Zachary Osler was an employee at a store where Loughner later bought a Glock handgun before the shooting. Osler was questioned about seeing Loughner shopping inside, sometime before Thanksgiving. He describes an awkward encounter with his former friend. “His response is nothing. Just a mute facial expression. And just like he, he didn’t care.” Osler told investigators he had grown uncomfortable with Loughner’s personality, “He would say he could dream and then control what he was doing while he was dreaming.” Osler says Loughner never mentioned Giffords to him.Osler talking about Loughner in high school: “Weird kid. He'd say weird things. Talk about weird things like how he consciously dreams while he’s awake.”
“I do know he tried to join the Army at one point. And they did mental evaluations on him. And they didn’t accept him.”
Osler said when he learned that Loughner was the suspect in the shooting, “my jaw just dropped. And I was like I know this person. Why he would do it? What would his motive be? If he had people help him? I do not know.”
In Loughner’s left front pocket were two magazines for a Glock, both fully loaded. In his other front pocket was a foldable knife with about a 4-inch blade. In his back right pocket, he had a baggie with some money, a Visa credit card and his Arizona driver’s license. He was wearing a black beanie, a black hoodie-type sweatshirt, khaki pants and Sketchers shoes, reports show.
A witness described seeing an ominous-looking man in his early 20s wearing a backpack near the shooting scene. The witness later described recognizing Loughner as the same person from photos on the news.