Documents outline Loughner's gradual breakdown - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

Documents outline Loughner's gradual breakdown

Updated:

By BRIAN SKOLOFF and JACQUES BILLEAUD
Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) - Documents released Wednesday detailing the shooting of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords show how the gunman had grown increasingly erratic and delusional in the months leading up to the rampage as he alienated friends and family and became paranoid that police were out to get him.

The roughly 2,700 pages included witness and survivor accounts from people who helped save Giffords' life after she was shot in the head outside a Tucson supermarket in 2011 during a meet-and-greet with constituents. Six people were killed and 11 others were wounded.

The files also provide the first glimpse into gunman Jared Lee Loughner's family. His parents have said nothing publicly beyond a brief statement after the attack, but records show his parents were trying to deal with a son who had grown nearly impossible to communicate with.

"I tried to talk to him. But you can't. He wouldn't let you," his father, Randy Loughner, told police. "Lost, lost and just didn't want to communicate with me no more."

"Sometimes you'd hear him in his room, like, having conversations," said his mother, Amy Loughner. "And sometimes he would look like he was having a conversation with someone right there, be talking to someone. I don't know how to explain it."

Randy Loughner said his 24-year-old son had never been diagnosed with mental illness. And despite recommendations from Pima Community College officials, who expelled Loughner, that he undergo a mental evaluation, his parents didn't follow up.

However, Loughner's parents grew worried enough about their son that they drug tested him.

The results were negative, said Amy Loughner, who was particularly worried that her son might have been using methamphetamine.

She said Loughner had told his parents that he had not had a drink of alcohol in five months but that he had tried marijuana and cocaine in the past.

The father said his son kept journals, but they were written in an indecipherable script.

Several weeks before the shooting, Loughner visited friend Anthony George Kuck, who said he was alarmed to find he had shaved his head.

"I kicked him out of my house because he showed me his gun," Kuck told police, adding that Loughner said he bought it for protection.

"I tried to talk to him about why it's not smart to have a gun," Kuck said. "He obviously didn't listen to me."

When he was arrested at the scene, Loughner was wearing peach-colored foam earplugs, authorities wrote in the documents.

He was polite and cooperative as detectives began their hours-long initial interview.

As Loughner sat in restraints in an interview room, the conversation was confined mainly to small talk. Little was said over the first four hours. Loughner asked if he could use the restroom, then at one point complained he felt sore.

"I'm about ready to fall over," he said.

Giffords intern Daniel Hernandez described how constituents and others were lining up to see Giffords that morning. He helped people sign in and recalled handing the sheet on a clipboard to Loughner.

"The next thing I hear is someone yell, 'Gun,'" said Hernandez, who rushed to tend to Giffords' gunshot wound to the head.

"She couldn't open her eyes. I tried to get any responses from her. It looked like her left side was the only side that was still mobile," Hernandez told authorities. "She couldn't speak. It was mumbled. She was squeezing my hand."

Hernandez explained how he had some training as a nurse and first checked for a pulse.

"She was still breathing. Her breathing was getting shallower," he said. "I then lifted her up so that she wasn't flat on the ground."

Onetime Loughner friend Zachary Osler described the shooter's increasing isolation from his other friends and acquaintances in the years leading up to the shooting.

He explained how he worked at a sporting goods store where Loughner bought the Glock 9 mm handgun used in the shooting. He was questioned about seeing Loughner shopping there, sometime before Thanksgiving, and described his awkward encounter with the man.

"His response is nothing. Just a mute facial expression. And just like he, he didn't care," Osler told authorities.

Osler also told investigators he had grown uncomfortable with Loughner's strange personality.

"He would say he could dream and then control what he was doing while he was dreaming," Osler said.

Still, he said he was shocked to learn Loughner had carried out such an attack.

"My jaw dropped," Osler said.

"And I was like, 'I know this person. Why would he do it? What would his motive be?'" he added, noting that Loughner had never mentioned Giffords in the past.

The documents detailing the event and ensuing investigation had been kept private until being released by the Pima County Sheriff's Department.

News organizations seeking the records were repeatedly denied access in the months after the shooting and the arrest of Loughner, who was sentenced in November to seven consecutive life sentences, plus 140 years, after he pleaded guilty to 19 federal charges.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns had prevented the sheriff's department from releasing the records in response to a request from The Washington Post, ruling in March 2011 that Loughner's right to a fair trial outweighed whatever disclosures might be authorized under state law.

Last month, Burns cleared the way for the release of the records after Star Publishing Company, which publishes the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson, had sought their release. The judge said Loughner's fair-trial rights are no longer on the line now that his criminal case has resolved.

Loughner's guilty plea enabled him to avoid the death sentence. He is serving his sentence at a federal prison medical facility in Springfield, Mo., where he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and forcibly given psychotropic drug treatments.

Arizona's chief federal judge and a 9-year-old girl were among those killed in the rampage. Giffords was left partially blind, with a paralyzed right arm and brain injury. She resigned from Congress last year and has since started, along with her husband, a gun-control advocacy group.

The Star said it wanted the records because they contain information about how a mass shooting occurs, including how long it took Loughner to fire gunshots - an issue raised by some advocates in the debate over high-capacity pistol magazines.

The Tucson newspaper argued that the records are critical in the national debate over whether such shootings could be prevented by armed resistance, whether a mass shooting occurs too quickly to be stopped and whether people with mental illnesses should be prohibited from getting guns.

 


 

A summary: PARENTS

Amy Loughner described her son's run-ins with authorities, use of marijuana and cocaine and increasingly erratic behavior. Randy Loughner said his son became more and more difficult, and it was a challenge to have a rational conversation: "I tried to talk to him. But you can't, he wouldn't let you. ... Lost, lost, and just didn't want to communicate with me no more." Randy Loughner said his son "just doesn't seem right lately."

TALKED TO SELF

Despite the bizarre behavior and his school's recommendation he undergo a mental health evaluation, the parents didn't seek help for him. Loughner, who was ultimately diagnosed as schizophrenia, often talked to himself in the year before the shooting and even laughed during the conversations, which weren't angry or about hurting anyone, his mother said. "And sometimes he would look like he was having a conversation with someone right there. Be talking to someone. I don't know how to explain it. I don't."

SCHOOL VIDEO

Hours after the shooting, Randy Loughner mentioned a video that caused Pima Community College to expel his son. "They didn't like his video. 'Cause, he's always, his First Amendment rights. He's, uh, he's too intelligent. You know? And they, and it, and they, they dismissed him from school. Told him he needed to go see, seek medical help to come back to school. ... He felt that the pigs were out to get him."

FIRED FROM JOB

The father considered his son's firing as a salesman at an Eddie Bauer store to be a turning point: "He just wasn't the same. He just, nothing, nothing worked, seem to go right for him."

SHOTGUN

Loughner bought a 12-gauge shotgun in 2008, but his parents took it away from him after he was expelled. The shotgun was the only gun his parents knew he owned.

HANDGUN PURCHASE

One-time Loughner friend Zachary Osler was an employee at a store where Loughner bought a Glock 9 mm handgun with a 15-round magazine in November 2010. Loughner had a military style haircut and cleared all background checks. He used a Visa card to pay the $559 for the gun and a box of ammo.

GUN STORE JOB

Osler remembered Loughner coming into the gun store on at least two occasions in the previous year, including once to apply for a job, for which he was denied. Osler said hello to Loughner during one of the visits, but Loughner didn't acknowledge or look at him and just continued onward.

DREAMS

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." Loughner never mentioned Giffords to Osler and said that when he learned Loughner was the suspect, "my jaw just dropped."

HOME LIFE

Osler told investigators Loughner's parents drank heavily and he didn't get along with his father: "A lot of the times I'd be over there his dad would be yellin' at him about whatever. Kind of a somewhat hostile environment. I never really felt comfortable over there."

PISTOL IN WAIST

A few weeks before the shooting, Loughner showed up at the apartment of boyhood friend Anthony Kuck with a 9 mm pistol in his waistband. Loughner said he bought the gun for Christmas for "home protection." Kuck's roommate, Derek Heintz, said Loughner left a bullet as a souvenir. Kuck said he had seen Loughner deteriorate over time: problems with drinking in high school, trouble with police, being kicked out of college, then showing up with a shaved head, bullet tattoos on his shoulder and a gun. "I just know his personality is not normal."

SUICICAL VOICEMAIL

On the day of the shooting, friend Bryce Tierney told investigators that Loughner had called him early in the morning and left a cryptic voicemail that he believed was suicidal. "He just said, 'Hey, this is Jared. Um, we had some good times together. Uh, see you later.' And that's it." Tierney tried to call back, but it was a restricted number that didn't register on his phone.

TRAFFIC STOP

A wildlife agent pulled Loughner over that morning for a traffic violation. 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.

CAB RIDE

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."

THE ENCOUNTER

Giffords intern Daniel 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!"'

CARTRIDGES FLYING

Doris Tucker was talking to Giffords when she was shot. All she recalls of Loughner was a dark, slim shape. "I remember screaming and ... hearing the terrible noise, and seeing the cartridges fly," said Tucker, whose husband was wounded. "I was talking, the next thing I knew, she was down. ... I saw her fall." Witness Lane Beck was pulling up in her car, with Giffords and the line of constituents in full view. Loughner was "kind of hopping up and down as he was shooting," she said. "His face was very animated."

LOUGHNER TACKLED

Patricia Maisch said Loughner walked up the line of people waiting to talk to Giffords and shot people at random, including the woman next to her. Then, three men tackled him. In the ensuing struggle, Loughner tried to reload. "He was partly on top of me. I had laid down to get out of the line of fire, I didn't know what else to do. ... Apparently he was out of bullets. He pulled the clip out, so I grabbed the clip and would not let him have that." Maisch then kneeled on Loughner's ankles while others held him down, until she noticed that one of the men was bleeding from his head. She went into the Safeway supermarket to get paper towels to stanch the flow of blood.

GIFFORDS

Hernandez helped tend to his boss after she was shot in the head. "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," Hernandez said. "Her breathing was getting shallower. Uh, I then lifted her up so that she wasn't flat on the ground against the wall." A firefighter described how he cared for Giffords after arriving at the scene and how he and paramedics rushed her to the hospital in an ambulance, giving her oxygen and an IV.

FULL POCKETS

Loughner had two Glock magazines in his left front pocket, 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 had peach-colored plugs in his ears and was wearing a black beanie, a black hoodie-type sweatshirt, khaki pants and Skechers shoes.

MORE GUNS

At Loughner's house, police found two shotguns in the trunk of a car parked in the garage, where they also found photographs of President Bill Clinton and other Pima County officials, including Rep. Raul Grijalva eating at a Mexican restaurant in Tucson years before. A search of a safe in Loughner's room turned up a gunlock, an envelope with his Glock's serial number on it and two spent bullet casings. The envelope said he planned to go ahead with an assassination. Items seized included a copy of the Anarchist Cookbook, photo negatives and writings.

INTERROGATION

Loughner was polite and cooperative with authorities the afternoon of the shooting. The conversation as Loughner sat in restraints in an interview room was mainly small talk. Little was said over the four hours. Loughner asked at one point if he could please use the restroom and said "Thank you" when allowed. At another point he complained of being sore: "I'm about ready to fall over." When a detective told Loughner he was going to change his restraints, Loughner responded, "Okay. I'm not going to move."

WHY GIFFORDS

Tierney, the friend, told investigators he wasn't surprised Loughner shot Giffords. "I don't think he liked Gabrielle Giffords," he said, recalling that when she visited the college they attended, Loughner asked her "'What is government?' and stuff." ... She couldn't give him the answer. ... I feel like he had ... something against Gabrielle Giffords."

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press modified.

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