For months, Jared Lee Loughner creeped out classmates and teachers with his odd behavior.
As a student at Aztec Middle College in Tucson, Arizona, Loughner was prone to sudden outbursts in class, teachers said. He'd ask "incoherent" questions and make inappropriate comments.
Other times, he would just stare into space.
"He had an intense stare, but he usually didn't stare at other people," said Kent Slinker, who taught an "Intro to Logic" class attended by Loughner. "He would have a focused stare some place else in the room, and almost as if he was viewing another scene or intensely thinking about something."
Loughner often spoke out of turn and asked questions unrelated to the class topic, leading Slinker to assume the student had Tourette Syndrome.
"I was never able to talk to him on a one-to-one basis and I did worry about him a lot," he said. "I do recall thinking I hope his parents know what's going on and that they have a handle on things."
Loughner was arrested in Saturday's shooting at a constituents gathering held by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in front of a Tucson Safeway grocery store. Six people died and more than a dozen were wounded. Federal authorities have charged Loughner with first-degree murder, attempted murder counts and attempting to kill a member of Congress, counts that involve shooting federal employees. State prosecutors also could bring charges related to other victims.
Interviews with friends and former teachers and classmates provide a glimpse of how he appeared in public - a little off, but not necessarily threatening. Background checks reveal brushes with the law that alone did not set off any alarm bells, a law enforcement official told CNN. He was also suspended from community college in September with the understanding that he could return if he obtained a clean bill of mental health from a doctor, school officials said.
On their own, the incidents prompted as much action as school officials or law enforcement felt necessary, given the cirumstances. Whether anyone ever put them all together remains unclear.
Classmates from Mountain View High School in Marana, a Tucson suburb, saw a different side of Loughner. They described him as intense and intelligent, someone who kept to himself but was nice once you to know him. He was fixated on numbers and excelled at math, former girlfriend Ashley Figueroa told CNN affiliate KGUN.
"He was a very nice kid. He was very, very intelligent. He would help me out with like my math and that's how it started off," Figueroa told KGUN.
"He just seemed like one of those kids who kind of kept to himself. He was very, very quiet. I kind of made the effort to talk to him because he kind of kept to himself. He was actually a really nice kid when it came to it," added Figueroa.
But his temper was too much for Figueroa, so she ended their relationship, she said.
"He used to scare me sometimes and that's why I left him. He kind of made me feel uncomfortable at times," she said. "He'd get really mad, clench his fist and then throw a kind of little tantrum. He'd flail his arms and walk off."
Loughner dropped out of Mountain View in 2006, after his junior year, the school district said. Near the end of his junior year, Loughner was taken to a hospital for alcohol poisoning, according to Sheriff's Department records. In 2007, he was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia, but the charge was dismissed after he completed a pretrial diversion program, according to court records.
In 2008, Loughner tried to enlist in the U.S. Army but was rejected for reasons that are protected by privacy laws, officials said. But an administration official told CNN on Sunday that Loughner had failed a drug test.
Loughner had most recently been taking classes at Aztec Middle College, a partnership between Tucson schools and Pima Community College that helps dropouts transition to community colleges.
Loughner took classes until September 2010, when he was suspended after five contacts with Aztec campus police "for classroom and library disruptions" between February and September, the school said.
To his college classmates, Loughner's presence was unnerving, drawing the attention of campus law enforcement.
"The first time I was really struck by him was because he used inappropriate reactions to people's emotional content. He would laugh at things that were sad. He just didn't seem to be aware of what was going on," Don Coorough, his classmate in advanced poetry, told CNN.
A report on Loughner's participation in the poetry class noted an instance of him responding inappropriately to a poem read in the class.
His comments "were a huge leap from the context of the poem and said things about abortion, wars, killing people, and 'why don't we just strap bombs to babies,' " according to a February report by the Pima College Department of Public Safety.
Loughner was kicked out of an algebra class in June after repeated interruptions that made classmates uncomfortable and left the impression that he clearly "needed psychological help," his algebra instructor Ben McGahee said.
Loughner sometimes shook, blurted things out in class and appeared to be under the influence of drugs at times, McGahee said.
"I was scared of what he could do," McGahee said.
"I wasn't scared of him physically, but I was scared of him bringing a weapon to class."
Loughner was suspended in September after authorities found a YouTube video in which he called the school "illegal according to the U.S. Constitution," the school said.
A follow-up letter warned that in order to return, Loughner had to present a doctor's note stating that "his presence at the college does not present a danger to himself or others."
Off campus, Loughner got into trouble with police for underage drinking and possession of a marijuana joint and a pipe. Pima County Sheriff's Bureau Chief Richard Kastigar described them as "very minor" incidents that failed to raise red flags ahead of Saturday's extreme violence.
"[They] do not add up in their totality to anything that would cause a police officer to say, 'This guy is going to go out there and shoot 20 people,'" Kastigar said.
Immediately after the shootings, law enforcement and the media went online to decipher Loughners digital footprint. They found a trove of confounding items in his profiles on MySpace, YouTube and other sites. Creating his own currency, lucid dreaming and distrust of the U.S. government were recurring themes in his online writings.
A December 30 posting states: "Dear Reader ... I'm searching. Today! With every concern, my shot is now ready for aim. The hunt, a mighty thought of mine."
One posting complained of a "second constitution," a term legal scholars sometimes use to describe post-Civil War amendments that ended slavery, extended voting rights and required equal protection under the law.
"In conclusion, reading the second United States constitution I can't trust the current government because of the ratifications: the government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar," he wrote in a December 15 video message on YouTube. "No! I won't pay debt with a currency that's not backed by gold and silver! No! I won't trust in God!"
Alan Lipman, director of the Center of the Study of Violence at Georgetown University, said the postings show "classic signs of psychosis."
"People were looking for whether he was on the left or the right. He was neither," Lipman told CNN. "He was incoherent. Those were signs, classic signs you'd see in a psychiatric unit of formal thought disorder."
Forensic psychologist Kathy Seifert called the postings "absolutely psychotic." Loughner should have been evaluated for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism or other mental illnesses, she said.
In an apparent reference to Giffords' congressional district, a posting stated: "The majority of people, who reside in District-8 are illiterate - hilarious."
The last message reportedly posted on his MySpace page read, "Dear friends ... Please don't be mad at me. The literacy rate is below 5%. I haven't talked to one person who is literate."
Authorities believe Loughner specifically targeted Giffords. Searches of the Loughner home turned up a 2007 letter from Giffords thanking Loughner for attending a 2007 event similar to Saturday's, Kastigar said.
Other alleged connections to Giffords: an envelope in a strongbox in his home was scrawled with phrases like "die bitch" and "assassination plans have been made," though officials have not drawn a direct link to Giffords.
Neighbor Steven Woods said Randy Loughner had complained to another neighbor that his son was "out of control."
The morning of the shooting, Loughner and his father had a confrontation in their front yard, Kastigar said. His father had asked him about a black bag he was carrying.
"Jared mumbled something back to his dad, and his dad said he didn't understand what was said. It was unintelligible," Kastigar said. "And then Jared left. The father followed. The father got in his vehicle and tried to locate his son and followed the direction that he went and he could not locate his son."
Just take Loughner out and shoot him to save tax money to put him on trial.
THe worst thing about this is that there were VERY big signs he needed help, but no one was willing to step up. This is the fault of every person who realized he needed psycological help, but didn't do a damn thing about it.
"Very big signs?"
All in all, it seems to me that the only way to get a proper picture of this man was to look at everything he was doing, not at a the isolated incidents. His interaction with local authorities wasn't in and of itself a flag. It's outbursts at school weren't either, in fact, the only thing I would think they would key in on was the fact that he may have had anxiety issues or a drug problem ... oh wait, I think they said something like that.
The darkness that was inside this kid is not evident until you put down the microscope and look at everything as a whole. No single person had that view except him, and needless to say, he doesn't seem to have been analyzing his own actions.
There should be a law against Creepy People ......
"Aztec Middle College?"
I think you meant Pima Community College, their mascot is the Aztecs.
Everytime somthing like this happens, the persons high-school or college background shows signs of a person that is either a loner, discipline, or other problems that seem to indicate they should not own guns! How come a background check can not also look at if the would be gun purchaser has had any issues in school that should raise a red flag?
Looking at earlier pictures of him and the "mug shot" make me wonder if he was not using steroids...the swelling in his face and head remind me very much of the transformation that happened to Barry Bonds..."Roid rage?"
Would you like a government officer named charlie or chuck watching everyone in the nation, recording what they are doing, and how they act?
He looks like anyone.. He sounds as creepy as your average 15 year old kid.. How can you tell if he is joking or not? Get real!
I bet classic symptoms of his behaviors didn't just suddenly start in his teens. They should have been identified at a much earlier age by both parents and the public school system in elementary or middle school. Although there are many possible symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome, the main symptom is severe trouble with social situations. Hindsight is 20/20.
AP – Who do you think should and shouldn't have the right to own a gun? Given your comments I assume you do not live in the inner city. Move to LA and experience a drive by – you may rethink what you are saying. Our British friends have the types of laws you would support. Unfortunately, given their murder rate by gun, only criminals seem to own guns in GB.
Why? Because the system for background checks is not uniform; nobody selling guns or ammo so much as Googles the potential purchaser. I live in the South; I own weapons; I am disgusted by wing-nuts' ridiculous interpretation of the Second Amendment; I hope this tragedy brings come civility to the public discourse. Deep sympathy for the victims and everyone who once tried to care about the shooter. Sad, sad, sad story.
Agreed....but was rejected for reasons that are protected by privacy laws, officials said. But an administration official told CNN on Sunday that Loughner had failed a drug test. So much for "privacy laws":
If a man shoots 20 people, to hell with his privacy laws!!
"Despite its largely urbanised population, the United Kingdom has one of the lowest rates of gun homicides in the world."
Those claiming that gun dealers do not do background checks obviously do not know what they are talking about and probably don't even own guns. My husband is a gunsmith and if we don't do background checks and follow all waiting periods, we can be in major trouble with the ATF. The ATF has every right to show up unannounced and examine our books, that's what we agreed to when we got our firearms license. And we are not to sell guns to anyone who creeps us out. Seriously. That's how it works. We don't even have to have proof of mental illness, if we think someone is weird we can refuse to do business with them for any reason. Unfortunately a lot of gun dealers are more interested in making money and not everyone has a conscience like my husband does.
Joe, do you really want your rights based on your high school classmates opinions of you? I mean, really?
Freedom isn't a popularity contest to see who is cool enough to deserve freedom.
Because as long as we have the right to bear arms, that is not going to exclude someone just because they are a weirdo.
because they wouldnt let rednecks buy guns...
The problem is they can't arrest people because they might do something crazy.
that is exactly what i thought would happen when it all boil down was that he had a mental problem. I think the parents should be held responsible at some point because they would know their child better than anyone so people need to get more involved in their kids life and stop blaming the mental issues. hell if that's the case everyone deals with mental issues every once in a while!!
So the answer that some of you idiots have is to eliminate all freedoms.. You guys are so smart! (not!)
This kid is a sounds like a classic case of schizophrenia. It shows up between 15 and 25, tends to get worse if not treated, but is not usually associated with violence. Has nothing to do with being a loner or anything else Joe mentions. Trying to keep him from a buying a gun with a background check is NOT practical in a case like this. He didn't have a significant police record or a diagnosis of mental illness. The real failure here was his family – they needed to get him to a Psychiatrist or MD for meds.
You are 6 times more likely to get mugged in London than in NYC. I wonder why? Guns don't kill people – they stop people from defending themselves.
6 times more likely to get mugged in London? Where did you find that stat?
does he even have a permit? most guns owners in this country do not have a permit and have not had a back ground check. how do we fix that problem?
and where is this guys parents, they are the ones that should have take there son in for mental evaluation. surely they noticed something. why are the parents never to blame?
I have to agree with a previous comment that it's impossible to know that, just because someone is creepy , they may go on a murderous rampage at some point .
A real issue , however, is the huge number of weapons in the USA compared to other countries . It's not rocket science to figure out why the USA also has, BY FAR, the highest number of shootings and gun related deaths .
Even worse is that average citizens can purchase automatic / repeating weapons .
It's far past time to compare the "gun culture" in the USA to other countries and ban the sale of automatic / repeating weapons such as this deranged individual used .
A major problem with this issue is the inability of parents to be able to access health records on dependent children over 18. The parents should be the first line of defense in providing help to a 20 year old, but current federal law prevents them from accessing information from physicians, schools, etc. that could help in preventing these events.
This guy isnt crazy jus cuz he didnt believe everything our govt officials say or what the media reports. Jus cause he thought out of the box in the topic of government doesnt make hime insane. The chemicals in his brain were fudge. He seem to be very intelligent as his ex said so when he questioned an ideal of america or a new law he didnt just debate it on a news thread, he researched it and came to a informed conclusion. So i guess every one who believes that 9/11 was an inside job is psyco killers? Well i am one of those people. I tend to question things then jus believe wat im told not a robot like other americans who jus live life day to day without wanting to better themselves or future. This government we have in place is a complete disaster waiting to happen. We need to step up and show them who really is in control and thats the people. We need to go back to just state governments jus like our foynding fathers wanted until money hungry colonists convinced them otherwise. I know you think im crazy but i will tell you wat every individual that believes the way i do will say and that is research and find an answer on your own not wat your pastor thinks or your mom or husband think. God bless the victims of 9/11, their real killers are still going unpunished
I stre into space all the time.
Sayin ayyo baby lets go!
I agree, the continued stories about this guys mental state are completely judgemental. Jared Loughner hasnt said anything and refuses to coroporate with authoritys, and until he chooses to do so, people need to stop divulging into conspiracies about what this kid was thinking or what was wrong with him. For all we know at this point, he could be completely stable and just trying to play the mentally ill card for his own personal gain... ie... not receiving the death penalty.
Just because someone is psychotic does not mean they are going to engage in violent behavior or go on a killing spree. Nuff said.
As a society we should have seen the signs of this person mental disturbance a long time ago. Why hasn't anybody acted on their concerns? All of a sudden we hear about these teachers and girlfriend etc. and how 'weird' and 'freaky' he was but NOBODY did anything but turn away and pretend he was not there. It is really sad the people who were around him now have their '15 minutes' of fame thanks to all of us who cannot wait to hear more about how 'strange' he was.
Classic symptoms should have been identified at a much earlier age by both parents and the public school system. Although there are many possible symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome, the main symptom is severe trouble with social situations. Hindsight is 20/20.
SO, who is to make those decisions of mental instability? Back before womans right and civil rights had any bearings, powerful, white people (and I am a white male) used to incarcerate their wives, people they thought might be a threat, or whatever...Having the power to determine ones mental stability and have him/her incarcerated is very dangerous. I would rather risk a couple killings every 10-20 years than have anyone with that type of power. Its bad enough with Child protective services making bad decisions.
We should also NOT forget that women were thought to be "hysterical" and were doped (so their husbands could have their way with them) in the not too distant past.
Are you saying that we should return to this way of thinking? Who exactly do you feel is qualified to make the determination as to who is a threat, based upon unusual behaviors? When my youngest son was in third grade, his teacher made her concerns about my son known, based upon my son's fascination with the cartoon character "Grimm" (the Grim Reaper). During the parent teacher conference I asked if she was aware of the cartoon character. Needless to say she was not. Point being that while my son was different than many of his peers, he was NOT mentally challenged, nor unstable. He simply had a fascination with a cartoon character that represented Death.
Unfortunately, we are walking a very thin line fraught with room for interpretation.
There were five incidents where campus police were called because of his behavior and then he was asked to leave and not return until he had a mental evaluation! So, obviously, people were AWARE that this individual was mentally disturbed. Some sort of report/charges should have been filed so that a background check may have prohibited him from obtaining a gun. We should not be blaming guns OR politics, but we should be concerned about why all of these people knew he was "weird" and "scary" but just asked him to "leave" and not make sure that further action was taken to prevent this type of violence.
I know a lot of weird and freaky people. So? What do you suggest should have happened?
One of the problems is the way that our Mental Health system is set up. If Jared's parents had sought help for him while he was under the age of 21 the would have had the authority to do so. Once he turned 21 he was in control. The school that ordered him off campus until he received a mental evaluation was following procedure. They had no right to take control of Jared and force him to under go an evaluation. Unfortunately, our country has lost it's way regarding me mental health.
I truly doubt these people being interviewed qualify as having "15 minutes of fame." They're not becoming famous, they are providing information because they are being asked. I don't know what his teacher or ex girlfriend look like or even their names; how could they be famous? And as far as why no one did anything in light of his strange behavior, that is because it isn't illegal to be a weirdo.
My mother was mentally ill, and was til the day she died. She hallucinated, and was definitely freaky. She didn't deserve to be incarcerated against her will, and she wouldn't go on a shooting spree, though she definitely went on weird rantings about the government. Who is too decide? There needs to be better access to help for these people (because the only reason my mom got social security disability was because I am a lawyer, and I had to fight the system). She certainly couldn't have received any help without me. In fact, she probably would have been wandering the streets homeless without me, and most people would have chalked her up to be a drug addict or a drunk, as she mumbled to herself (she never drank or did a drug in her life), but randomly locking up thousands of people because of what one person MIGHT do– that's not America.
Does his creepy behavior include looking like a bald Glenn Beck?
Joking aside, this is an extremely sick individual. The more information that comes out about him, the more I wonder how he was able to legally purchase a gun in the first place. My heart goes out to the families of the victims, and I am thankful he was stopped before more damage was done.
Why do people have such a need to have guns???!!! Is it a mental thing? Most guns are useless, u can't hunt with a lot of them, so why do people buy or have the need to own them?
So when somebody comes in my house to kidnap my kids or beat my wife i can blow their kneecaos off and then call the police. Guns dont kill people idiots do
yeah, tell that to the guy in Connecticut whose entire family was murdered.
actually you can hunt with just about anything other than an automatic, small caliber handguns for rabbit and small game. The rest of the guns are for well you must live in rainbows and lollipop land bc there are parts america that are still pretty dangerous, gang violence from latino groups are on the rise, 13 dead in 13 days in pg county in maryland, so what should we not protect ourselves? sorry we are poor and can't live in fancy houses with big gates, some people still have to defend themselves.............dbag
How did that guys family get killed? If it was at their house and he had a gun to protect himself it may hace turned out different. Look guns are part of the american society, jus luke alcohol and tobacco, which by the way kills alot more people then guns. People have too much money invested in those things so the government will never change it cuz they would be writing thier deathwish. Money makes america go round and some of the biggest money makers are the biggest problems in america.
You trolls turning this into a Jewish – Palestinian debate should be absolutely ashamed of yourselves. Especially the ones turning this into an Anti-Semitic rant. You're all disgusting.
It is no more rediculous than the rantings that this is in some way related to Sarah Palin or even gun control for that matter. The fact is a guy with mental health problems murdered a bunch of people, nothing more, nothing less.
To everyone who is calling for stricter gun laws, in light of the tragedy in Tucson, may this little tidbit be offered: If guns kill people, then pencils misspell words, cars drive drunk, and forks make people fat, and its the kids fault for child rapists! Remember: Hold the person accountable for their actions, not the means they choose to utilize!!!
Of course GUNS do not kill people by themselves, nobody believes that. But guns make it A WHOLE LOT easier for people to kill people! Because driving a car presents potential public hazards, we require licensing and registration of automobiles and we don't let impaired people drive them. Its common sense.
I am so tired of that arguement. it's just an excuse to own a gun.
Allowing sociapathic people the right to have a gun is handing out a randon death sentence to all of America. Hardly comparable to forks mnaking people fat and pencils misspelling words.
Take away the instrument and lives will be saved. perios. that wacko kid could not have done any of this without a gun. Maybe he would've just held onto his pencil and kept sending letters and a 9 year old girl would still be alive.
Give it up. People kill people WITH GUNS.
Do you really think if guns were outlawed people could not still get them? I guess that's why we have no drugs in our country right now.
To TM – He could also have easily used ANY weapon.... a knife, a pipe, a bat, you get the picture.... If he put his mind to it, I am sure he could have come up with MANY ways, other than a gun, to commit this crime.
I have to agree. China had a rash of nut cases attacking children with hammers and knives. You can't ban every dangerous tool in the world.
He could have drove a car thru the crowd that could ve killed more. He could built a bomb or a knife. There are plenty of ways he could have did this. Cigarettes and alcohol kill far more than guns. How about we illegalize those substances first.
I agree, stricter gun laws almost always result in increased crime. The number of times that a crime is prevented by a gun owner is many times that of times when a gun is used in a crime. Remove the guns and the prevention is removed, and so those crimes then take place. AS for this nut, they all say he was highly intelligent and I hate to break it to you out there but bomb making is an easy art. Once when I was a kid I made one for the fun of it and set off a blast that echoed for miles. Wouldn't recomend it but it is easy.
No, you will never get rid of guns, and you'll never be able to stop someone who is persistent from obtaining one. BUT, the fewer guns there are and the more difficult you make it to obtain them, the fewer gun deaths there are going to be. Its simple arithmetic. And NO, you cannot do the damage with a KNIFE that someone can with a gun that has a 30 round clip in it. Lets get real.
@Elizabeth you must belong to the Westboro baptist church
I am tired of hearing how other people saw signs that this young man had serious mental issues. Yet, why didn't anyone come forward with there concerns from the beginning? What happen was a horrible tragic event and I feel somehow this could have been prevented if the shooter recieved the proper treatment for his issues, maybe this situation could of been prevented. All of these so call friends, school mates, now say Jared was unstable, yet not one of them try to get him some help.
It's sad, but unfortunately, no one can force someone in this country to get help. It's almost impossible to prove someone should be forced psychological help. I imagine his parents (proof is in the fact he father looked for him after he left with the black bag) tried to get him to get help. The laws were change many years ago because of obvious abuses. It's against a person's civil rights to force psychological medical treatment on someone...but maybe it should be. Freedom was defined to me (a long time ago) as the right to do what we want as long as we don't infringe on someone else's freedom. In light of that definition...maybe it needs to be easier to force treat someone to stop that person from hurting as many people as this guy did.
This was a troubled person for a very long time. This was horrible and evil,yet those who assumed that it was a result of political talking heads were completely wrong.
And you know that HOW exactly? Funny how those political talking heads and the media have convinced you they weren't responsible – even when nobody knows for sure what set Laughner off.
Regardless, it's about time we had a discussion about this subject anyway. Even if Laughner was not motivated at all by the likes of Glenn Beck and Fox News or Rush Limbaugh – those people are still liars and manipulators. And Glenn Beck is a fricking NUT with delusions of his own. So let's stop pretending that these talking heads have no influence. They shouldn't lie to the public for any reason. Yet it happens on a daily, scripted basis.
The face of evil takes on many forms. Every one of them is destructive to our country.
Hey DAVE, you said....."And you know that HOW exactly? Funny how those political talking heads and the media have convinced you they weren't responsible – even when nobody knows for sure what set Laughner off.
Regardless, it's about time we had a discussion about this subject anyway."
Perhaps if you took off your hate glasses for a second you could do us all a favor and please provide any link, information, or anything at all that even remotely suggests that Loughner was influenced by Beck, Palin, Limbaugh etc etc. While your at it, please provide a list of 22 yr old males that you know, that listen to talk radio. There are only two relevant discussions here....how a male with obvious mental issues was allowed to purchase a firearm and why people like you appear to filled with the hate that consumed Loughner.
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