Jared Loughner's background reveals series of warning signs
Jared Lee Loughner, 22, had a documented history of brushes with school officials and law enforcement.
January 13th, 2011
09:26 PM ET

Jared Loughner's background reveals series of warning signs

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."

soundoff (795 Responses)
  1. dwight

    i feel he is a good young man under that smile.

    January 14, 2011 at 2:35 am | Report abuse |
  2. Al

    "classic signs of psychosis." – isn't that something you can learn from watching too much Beck on TV? I think he looks like a bald GB!

    January 14, 2011 at 2:37 am | Report abuse |
  3. Barry

    Maybe I'll avoid CNN.com for a week and by then this physcos photo will be forgotten.

    January 14, 2011 at 2:42 am | Report abuse |
  4. Tony

    Man, I sure am tired of seeing this nut jobs face.

    January 14, 2011 at 2:42 am | Report abuse |
    • isthatall

      something liver and fava beans about it, huh>

      January 14, 2011 at 2:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Mmmolk


      January 14, 2011 at 4:27 am | Report abuse |
  5. Josh

    The black areas are always filthy, disgusting, and crime ridden, they throw trash everywhere because they do not know what a trash can is.

    January 14, 2011 at 2:43 am | Report abuse |
    • isthatall

      This article is not about environmental justice.

      January 14, 2011 at 2:44 am | Report abuse |
  6. Brian

    I believe I've heard enough prayer and God bashing from this post. Any fully educated individual should be aware that philosophy demands the need for a creator. It's our job to seek Him. While it may be difficult to understand why a 9 year old girl could be allowed to die...I can back up the fact that she's in a better place than you'll ever be if you leave God out of the equation. I would like to recognize everyone that's stepped up to the plate and risen to the event in a heroic manner and my thoughts and prayers are with everyone, including those who have chosen to turn away from God as a result.

    FYI – I'd like several of these folks to open their history books...then their bibles. Just because our founding fathers designed our country to tolerate your non belief...they founded this country on Christian principle...look it up, do the research, and leave if you gotta problem with it. Cause the biggest reason America has had success is because America is right with God...take that away and I wonder what else happens around here...so seek Christ first, and who knows, you may find all the answers your looking for!

    January 14, 2011 at 2:52 am | Report abuse |
    • isthatall

      Philosophy is just Science under discussion. UFO Human Link Apageinthelife

      January 14, 2011 at 3:17 am | Report abuse |
  7. Josh

    Jared looks like a fast food employee of the month!!!!!

    January 14, 2011 at 2:54 am | Report abuse |
  8. Mmmolk


    1.Beck said Obama is a racist that hates all White People.

    2.Beck said Hate Slurs about Obama's 11 year old daughter.

    3.Beck said Obama is the same as Hitler and Stalin.

    4.Beck said all liberals are Communists.

    5.Beck said Obama has Death Panels to kill the elderly.

    January 14, 2011 at 2:55 am | Report abuse |
  9. Brian Templeton

    Warning sign number one: A retard just bought a gun.

    January 14, 2011 at 2:56 am | Report abuse |
  10. Josh

    I wonder if he was a NRA card carrying member

    January 14, 2011 at 2:56 am | Report abuse |
  11. beth

    oh Brian. Just because you choose to believe in god does not mean everyone else has to. Its a story. PERIOD. Whether that STORY is true or not is subject to each individuals own belief. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with GOD, but not everyone has to believe it. Point being, this kid was crazy, but that doesn't mean WE as HUMANS could not have taken the time to reach out to him. Bottom line is, FEW people, if any, would approach someone different & labeled as a freak.

    January 14, 2011 at 2:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Doug

      I don't care what cult it was that he was into. .. Jew, christian, muslim.. All the same.. my god is better than you god.. But you know, if you study any of these nut cases, they all came from a family with confusion, and of course god.. I know folks think they are doing their best, but, hate really is not a good family value !

      January 14, 2011 at 3:25 am | Report abuse |
    • chase

      please... brian... ELUCIDATE US. Would love to know about these facts. Please. Reveal them here for the whole world to see... shouldn't be difficult if they exist right?

      January 14, 2011 at 3:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Doug

      Like if you say that smile you would think he is ok.. Whatever.. His face, his eyes, his looking like he's 200 years old when he's a 22 yr. old.. this guy is crazy.. But then again... no.... he's sane.. I want his azz to burn in a jail for the rest of his crazy days.... WE have far too many just like him here in this country... But this one is the poster child of crazy and hate.. Is he really Sarah Palin's son that the gave up for adoption ?

      January 14, 2011 at 4:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Ulises

      Brian is just like all those fundies out there who are trying to push his beliefs in the wake of tragic events.

      January 14, 2011 at 4:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Catie

      Beth while you choose not to believe in God, it does not make Him not exist. Just like I dont have to believe in arrogant self-righteous nothing could possibly be bigger or smarter than I people, but they are out there too.

      January 14, 2011 at 5:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Catie

      Doug, to bring up Sarah Palin, who is full of hate now? This unbalanced young man did not even like the news or follow any one polotical party, you idiot. Oh it couldnt be Ed Shultz' kid, who called for Rush Limbaugh to die on a piece of fat, or Montel Williams who talked about knifing Bachman, or a radio personality who wanted a conservative off to heaven " I dont care if the go to hell or heaven, just as long as they are the hell out of here" No lefties are a gentle population

      January 14, 2011 at 5:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Dominik

      Aubrey should shut up cause sounds like she doesnt know what shes talking about

      January 14, 2011 at 6:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Karloff

      @Brian: Belief in god is a delusion. I'm not going to, and I don't want to, convince you; if your thinking processes are functioning well and you TRULY look at belief in god rationally, you'll come to the realization that there is no god. It IS just a story–for some reason, humans are "hardwired" to have such a belief. One's belief in something doesn't make it true. (Check out Michael Shermer's book "How We Believe.")

      January 14, 2011 at 6:26 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      Just wondering. For the many people here who say they do not think there is a God. Do you people believe in having a sole?

      January 14, 2011 at 6:57 am | Report abuse |
    • InLove0607

      I'm sorry but I feel bad for you or anyone else who doesn't have faith in the Lord. I am not a "Bible Thumper" and do not feel the need to gather with the masses every week and donate money. I do however, believe in something very simple that I believe covers ALL the commandments, "Do onto others as you would have done onto you." (For anyone who doesn't understand: it just means don't do anything to anyone else you wouldn't want them to do to you) If more people would understand and live by this very simple statement, weather or not you believe in ANY GOD, the world would simply be a better place.

      January 14, 2011 at 7:05 am | Report abuse |
    • grack


      yes, most people have two soles (one on each shoe).

      January 14, 2011 at 7:43 am | Report abuse |
    • SickofPiersMorganalready

      I've been drinking coffee all morning and I have this terrible urge to go to the bathroom but am not positive of the "signs", maybe CNN can explain them to me!!

      January 14, 2011 at 7:44 am | Report abuse |
    • LT

      To Doug- that is complete BS. All mentally ill patients come from "confused" families? Get your head out of your ass and research mentall illness before you go spouting off random "facts".

      January 14, 2011 at 8:06 am | Report abuse |
    • JDonaldson

      I mostly agree with Brian...a single, great diety rules us all...my only point of departure is that I know it is Huixtocihuatl, Goddess of salt and salt water. She controls everything. btw, She is very happy the politician is recovering well....it is Her doing, really....she only differs from the American god in that She doesn't like guns. She destroys guns wth salt water. Other than that, I think Brian makes good, old-fashined sense.

      January 14, 2011 at 8:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      @John: I prefer halibut. 7 days without makes one week.

      January 14, 2011 at 8:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Jack

      Is Brian actually Jared's ex-roommate? Reading his posts, one would assume they'd get along.

      January 14, 2011 at 8:30 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      The fact that you understood what I meant, but choose not to respond says much about you.
      So do you people believe you have a soul?

      January 14, 2011 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Devoid

      @john no i don't believe in souls, or the pope or any other self proclaimed prophet. Religion is a tool used to control the masses. To each his own, whatever keeps people from going postal is fine with me.

      January 14, 2011 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Beth

      It is hard to beleive that this young man was not suffering from a clearly diagnosable mental illness. After reading numerous articles and even seeing a brieg snipit of a youtube posting it is concerning. It is really dishartening that no one was able to step up and say, WOW something is definantly not right with this young man. In addition that that the forensic psychologist stating he was clearly psychotic i would agree and ask that they considered possibly a sustance indiuced psychosis as both salvia and cannabis have both been shown to induce psychosis and even predispose someone to a psychotic eposide. This young man should have and still can be helped and truly diservices adequate medical and mental health treatment. I hope that he is able to obtain it starting even before the trial begins.

      January 14, 2011 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth Mayhand

      The real tragedy will be if the world refuses to recognize that GOD has purposely caused this shooting to happen!! It is a warning, the beginning of sorrows (Matthew 24). The entire religious, political and educated world is hated by and dead to God. It is not an accident that this happened! Please read Isaiah 45:7. The Lord causes ALL things to happen, good and bad. God does not make mistakes, there are no “innocent victims”.
      Our blood is being spilled for the blood of all of His that walked the earth before us. We are the children of those that killed the prophets.
      MATTHEW 23: “31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. 32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. 33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?”

      What will we do when the days of tribulation arrive? How will any of us survive the 3 &1/2 years of worldwide drought that is promised for the world? Read Revelation 11 and 16. The two witnesses are NOT coming to bring the world peace or rapture, but rather God’s wrath and vengeance!! Drought, famine, plagues and more.
      What happened in Tucson will be minor compared to what the entire world will endure. Millions of people WILL die by the Lord’s hand and wrath. Come out of the religious world and return to God while we still can (Malachi 3:7).
      EZEKIEL 7:25 “Destruction cometh; and they shall seek peace, and there shall be none.”
      1 THESSALONIANS 5:3 “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.”
      Please, please, for the sakes of our souls, do not take these warnings lightly!

      January 14, 2011 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • myklds

      "Is Brian actually Jared's ex-roommate? Reading his posts, one would assume they'd get along."

      Above was quoted from jack's reply.

      @Jack and to the rest of the Atheists... I think it's completely the other way around coz Brian is apparently has strong faith in God while Jared "don't trust God.

      Atheists keep on bragging about facts, rationale and logic. Then, analyze this:

      Jared Loughner "don't TRUST god."
      Jack & Beth and the rest of the Atheists don't BELIEVE in God.

      If Jared was able to spray bullets to "a bunch of people including that 9-yr. old girl.", Then what worst Atheists people could do?

      A logical answer please!

      January 14, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Admonition

      It's not only a story it's an acronym G.O.D Government Observation Department and cause of both George Bush's it's an illegal terrorist in all of our lives. having blind faith is dangerous. I just think i'ts too bad that it's not always dangerous to those who are dangerous in their blind faith. blind faith more times then not is a hindrance to people who know what the truth really is.

      January 14, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mental signs

      NOT ONE PERSON on this board, is even questioning how an obviously mentally disturbed individual got access to GUNS, so easily. His parents should have forced the police to disarm him.SHAME.

      January 17, 2011 at 2:05 am | Report abuse |
  12. secondguesser

    Wow. So much that so many don't understand. I can speak from someone that has had first hand experience with a bonafied classic mentally ill person. The warning signs were flashing in neon. This young man could have and should have been committed to a ward for treatment and evaluation. All I can say is for all of those spouting off about there not be being a God I can damn sure tell you folks that there is a devil. As someone that has lived with a bipolar,schizophrenic brother I am a full believer in the ability for someone to be demon possessed. Try you a little bit of that and you'll start praying more than Mother Teresa! Oh yeah, after a John like revelation during a comatose illness after which doctors told us he had two years to live, he came out of it with a story of Jesus saying he was healed. I never saw him the rest of his days after that in which he wasn't as lucid and responsible as any aceptable member of society. He lived another 2 -1/2 years.

    January 14, 2011 at 3:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Catie

      What a beautiful story, amen! I dont try to convince people of God anymore. Because there are those who do not want to believe. They would rather have the excuse of being able to behave the way that they choose. People dont like to be told what to do. Believing in God would make you accountable for your actions and for some, that is not possible. I dont have to have proof that there is a God, I dont need science to tell me, I dont need a pastor to tell me, I dont need proof. I just believe. Until the non-believer is accepting of that opennes, like a child, they will never ever believe and that is their loss. The peace I feel as a believer is astounding and I wouldnt trade it for anything.

      January 14, 2011 at 5:51 am | Report abuse |
    • InLove0607

      GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY! I'm happy to hear that he finally found peace! I'll add you & your family to my prayers.

      January 14, 2011 at 7:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Admonition

      The only help this guy needed was a CIA RMS geek squad from internal affairs of Linguistics engineer's and pantoglot's. you're a moron.

      January 14, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Admonition

      I apologize I wouldn't know if your a moron or not cause i read the other CNN posts that said there were no real signs that loughner would nut like he did. but with all that is going on with the bio technological CIA RMS spy systems today all I can say is that every since it was implamented there has been this sort of mass murder suddenly on a massive increase. all this crazy stuff is happening cause of Way Way Way too much george bush.

      January 14, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Admonition

      Bipolar disorder is a side effect of CIA RMS psychic visual spying. and schizophrenia is the persons reaction to them knowing someone is screwing their mind around. it's the largest scam of all humanity and of all time. and it's streamlined from government ultra secret spying.

      January 14, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Samar Jabeen Khan

    Come on now CNN, i just found two errors through a scan of this article. Not even i would i make those mistakes on facebook.

    January 14, 2011 at 3:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Aubrey

      Then you should know that you capitilize "I" in a sentence.

      January 14, 2011 at 5:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Christian

      "I would I" doesn't make any sense either

      January 14, 2011 at 6:08 am | Report abuse |
  14. dreaa

    First of all, have any of you ever heard of spell check? Second of all, stop playing the what if game, he did it. Going back and searching for a reason why won't change the fact that innocent people have lost pieces of themselves. Third of all, whether he be crazy or not, punishment will find him. Its not a matter of how or what, he will meet his maker. Its not our job to chastise him for his actions, it only makes us lesser human beings. Let him be what he wants to be, if he wants to be fake, oh well, if he wants to be crazy, well by god he suits the character. Instead of sitting around asking why, why don't we all just try and accept its already happened, and until my washer turns into a time machine, we all need to just shut up.

    January 14, 2011 at 3:09 am | Report abuse |
  15. Joe Robertson

    Personally, I must say that I am sick of seeing this guy's face on newspapers, TV's, websites, and so on. He committed an atrocious act of violence that left 6 dead, including a 9 year old girl. By posting his picture everywhere you're glorifying his actions (in his own eyes). This is not about him, his participation in this tragedy is over. TAKE HIS FACE OUT OF THE MEDIA; put up some faces of the victims we haven't heard much about. Or just keep posting Christina Green's picture, maybe it'll remind everyone out there how far from perfection we truly are. It makes me sick to see his face.

    January 14, 2011 at 3:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Sally Li

      Right. Why reward bad people with the notoriety they seek? If you want to be known, be good, or be good at doing something good.

      January 14, 2011 at 4:08 am | Report abuse |
    • isthatall

      @Sally li
      Show me where this paradigm works so I can go there, please.

      January 14, 2011 at 4:37 am | Report abuse |
    • PaulC

      Well said.

      January 14, 2011 at 5:57 am | Report abuse |
    • BigMowma

      Amen! I am curious about something. There were signs all over the place that this guy had some serious problems. Is Tucson too big to notice when one of their own needs help? Also, it really irritates me when "distrusting the government" is taken as a sign of future problems. Every week there is a poll by some organization or other regarding the current/past president's approval rating. I didn't trust W/Cheney et al, and I'm not too sure about the big "O" either but I am totally against people taking these matters into their own hands. Or killing in any form including animals, even though I used to be a hunter and my family hunts for food. It's not for me. Any thoughts?

      January 14, 2011 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Bubba

      David Brin says we should legally suppress their names and give them handles like "the Sissyboy Shooter" or "Dog Face." Never let their actual names be spoken again. Jail them for fifty years as Short Wiener #476. See how they like that. Put "Rat Boy 17" on his tombstone.

      January 14, 2011 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
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