As more information emerges about a seemingly deranged gunman accused of killing six people and wounding at least 13 others at a Northwest shopping center, many have asked why he never drew the attention of mental health professionals.
Northwest resident Jared Loughner, 22, stands accused in federal court of killing Congressional staffer Gabe Zimmerman and federal Judge John Roll on Jan. 8. Loughner also is accused of shooting U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) in the head and two other members of her staff that same day.
Giffords remains hospitalized at University Medical Center. On Sunday, doctors upgraded her condition from “critical” to “serious.” On Monday, doctors performed surgery on the congresswoman to repair an eye socket damaged in the shooting. Doctors said she is responding well.
Loughner could face state charges for the shooting, which include the killing of a 9-year-old girl.
To date, no evidence of Loughner having prior verified mental-health issues or court-ordered psychiatric evaluations has come to light; however, documents have emerged that show a picture of a deeply troubled young man.
A pattern of peculiar behavior in Loughner may have begun in early last year, when his teachers and classmates at Pima Community College complained about his actions on at least four occasions.
Pima Community College Police have released reports and other documents showing that the accused gunman’s classroom conduct became increasingly erratic throughout 2010.
Despite his unusual actions, Loughner does not appear to have made overt threats against his instructors or classmates. There is also no indication that he posed a threat to himself.
• In February of last year, school officials contacted college police at Pima’s Northwest campus after Loughner made unsettling comments in a writing class about another student’s poem.
A Pima Community College Police report says Loughner’s comments were a “huge leap from the context of the poem.” It continues that he spoke about war, killing and abortion and asked, “Why don’t we just strap bombs to babies?”
When school officials questioned Loughner about the comments, he told them that classroom discussion had focused on abortion. The topic, he said, made him think more of death and suicide bombers and ultimately of using babies as suicide bombers.
Pima administrator Dr. Aubrey Conover wrote in a summary of two meetings she had with Loughner concerning his conduct that she told him he should more carefully weigh his statements.
“We talked about how you needed to give context to you(r) statements, especially when deal(ing) with emotional issues,” Conover wrote.
Conover followed up with the instructor who said Loughner had not caused any more classroom disruptions but did continue to act “bizarre.”
A Pima police report of the first incident shows campus law enforcement saw no reason to charge Loughner with a crime.
“For now, this report documents the faculty’s concerns but does not in my opinion justify making contact with Loughner by police,” the reporting officer wrote.
• In April, Northwest Campus police were called to the library where employees had complained about loud comments Loughner made.
Police spoke with Loughner, who was wearing headphones and listening to music while using a computer. He told the officer, according to a police report, that he was “really into music” and sometimes sang along audibly.
He was told the behavior was not appropriate in the library and asked to stop. Loughner told police he wouldn’t do it anymore.
• School officials in May notified police at Pima’s West Campus about Loughner when an instructor said the now-accused gunman became angered about a grade he received. Loughner had protested to the instructor after he received a “B” in Pilates, a one-credit class.
The instructor told officers that she felt “intimidated” by Loughner and requested that police stay in the area when she taught the class.
• In early June Pima police from the Northwest Campus were again called when Loughner allegedly disrupted his math class.
Police contacted Pima officials and asked if they wanted officers to write a suspension letter to prevent Loughner from attending the class. The officer said that wouldn’t be needed.
A police report of the incident notes that officers had no student code of conduct or legal charges to file against Loughner. The report does say that the instructor and fellow students felt “uncomfortable” with Loughner in the class.
Other documents show that the instructor suspected Loughner was on drugs.
Following that incident a school counselor met with Loughner, who said he believed he was only exercising his free-speech rights, according to a summary the counselor wrote.
Loughner told the counselor that he had paid for the class and should be allowed to speak out if he wanted to.
• A final incident occurred in September.
An instructor contacted Northwest Campus police when Loughner caused a disturbance in class.
The instructor told police that Loughner was angered at receiving half-credit on an assignment that he turned in late.
“Loughner immediately said that his freedom of speech had been taken away,” an officer wrote in a report.
Throughout the conversation with campus police, the report noted, Loughner commented often about freedom of speech and freedom of thought.
“Mr. Loughner continued standing, and I observed his head was tilted to the left with a confused look in the countenance of his face,” and officer wrote. “His eyes focused down at his homework and he showed a sustained bobbing of the eyes while looking to his upper left side during questioning.”
The officer noted, “There might be a mental health concern involved with Loughner.”
Conover met with Loughner after the September classroom incident. In a summary of the meeting, she noted, “Throughout the meeting Jared held himself very rigidly and smiled at overtly inappropriate times.”
A few days following the incident campus police went to Loughner’s home to deliver a notice of suspension to him.
After explaining to him that he would not be allowed back at school, police reports say Loughner responded: “I realize now that this is all a scam.”
He was told he could only return to classes at the college if he underwent a psychological evaluation. To date, no evidence has turned up to show that Loughner sought help from mental health professionals.
Sheriff releases timeline of shooting
The Pima County Sheriff’s Department on Friday, Jan 14 released a timeline that shows what they think a suspected shooter did the day he allegedly killed six people at a Northwest shopping center.
Jared Loughner, 22, stands accused of attempting to kill U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on Jan. 8. The congresswoman was shot in the head while speaking to a small group of constituents outside a Safeway store at Ina and Oracle roads.
A federal judge and a 9-year-old girl were among the six people killed in the shooting spree. Another 13 people, including Giffords, received gunshot wounds.
Nov. 30, 2010
Jared Loughner purchases a Glock Model 19,
9 mm handgun with extended magazine
and one box of ammunition.
11:35 p.m. Jan 7, 2011
Loughner drops off roll of 35 mm film to be developed at Walgreens, 3800 W. Ina Road.
12:24 a.m. Jan. 8
Loughner makes a purchase at
Circle K Store No. 3400, 4900 W. Ina Road.
12:29 a.m. Jan. 8
Loughner checks into Motel 6,
4630 W. Ina Road.
2:19 a.m. Jan. 8
Loughner returns to Walgreens at 3800 W. Ina Road to retrieve developed photos and make a purchase.
2:34 a.m. Jan. 8
Loughner makes purchase at Chevron Store No. 95481, 7620 N. Hartman Road.
4:12 a.m. Jan. 8
Loughner posted bulletin on Myspace titled “Goodbye friends.” The post contained a photo.
6:12 a.m. Jan. 8
Loughner makes purchase at Walmart Store No. 2922 at Foothills Mall, 7635 N. La Cholla Blvd.
6:21 a.m. Jan. 8
Loughner makes purchase at Circle K Store No. 08510 at 3712 W. Cortaro Farms Road.
7:04 a.m. Jan. 8
Walmart Store No. 2922, 7635 N La Cholla Blvd., Loughner attempts to purchase ammunition and is refused.
7:27 a.m. Jan. 8
Loughner purchases ammunition and a diaper bag (backpack style) at Super Walmart, 8280 N. Cortaro Road, in Marana.
7:30 a.m. Jan. 8
Arizona Game and Fish Department officer stops Loughner for running a red light at Cortaro Road. and I-10. No citation was issued.
Between 7:31 a.m. and 9:40 a.m. Jan. 8
Loughner returns home with a black bag in his possession. His father confronts him and Loughner flees on foot carrying the bag.
9:41 a.m. Jan. 8
Taxi driver picks up Loughner from Circle K at 3712 W. Cortaro Farms Road and drives him to Safeway, 7100 N. Oracle Road.
9:54 a.m. Jan. 8
Taxi driver and Loughner enter Safeway to get change for fare.
10:10 a.m. Jan. 8
Loughner opens fire on Congresswoman Giffords and a group of people there to speak with her. Nineteen people are wounded, six of whom die from their inuries.
10:11 a.m. Jan. 8
Pima County Sheriff’s Department receives 911 call of shooting.
10:14 a.m. Jan. 8
First medical unit, Rural Metro Fire Rescue 76 (Paramedic Unit) dispatched to shooting at Safeway.
10:15 a.m. Jan. 8
Pima County Sheriff’s Deputy Audetat is first deputy on scene and detains suspect.
10:16 a.m. Jan. 8
Pima County Sheriff’s Deputy Patino second to arrive on scene and secures weapon used in shooting.
10:19 a.m. Jan. 8
Medical personnel begin arriving on scene.
10:31 a.m. Jan. 8
Southwest Ambulance, Paramedic 831 arrives on scene.
10:41 a.m. Jan. 8
Southwest Ambulance, Paramedic 831 transports Congresswoman Giffords to University Medical Center.
10:50 a.m. Jan. 8
Loughner transported to Pima County Sheriff’s Foothills Substation, 7300 N. Shannon Road.
6:59 p.m. Jan. 8
Police serves warrant at residence of Loughner’s parents, 7700 block of North Soledad Avenue.