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Looking Behind the Mug-Shot Grin, AZ Shooter a Bush Hater

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unreal how unstable and deranged this dude was and is...

TUCSON — Moments after the swirl of panic, blood, death and shock, the suspect was face down on the pavement and squirming under the hold of two civilians, his shaved head obscured by a beanie and the hood of his dark sweatshirt.

Deputy Sheriff Thomas Audetat, a chiseled former Marine with three tours in Iraq to his credit, dug his knee into the gangly young man’s back and cuffed him. With the aid of another deputy, he relieved the heroic civilians of their charge and began searching for weapons other than the Glock semiautomatic pistol, secured nearby under a civilian’s foot, that had just fired 31 rounds.

In the left front pocket, two 15-round magazines. In the right front pocket, a black, four-inch folding knife. “Are there any other weapons on you?” Deputy Audetat recalled demanding.

“Back right pocket.”

But the back right pocket contained no weapons. Instead, in a Ziploc bag, the deputy found about $20 in cash, some change, a credit card and, peeking through the plastic as if proffering a calling card, an Arizona driver’s license for one Jared Lee Loughner, 22.

Deputy Audetat lifted the passive, even relaxed suspect to his feet and led him to the patrol car, where the man twisted himself awkwardly across the back seat, face planted on the floor board. Then he invoked an oddly timed constitutional right. “I plead the Fifth,” Mr. Loughner said, though the deputy had no intention of questioning him. “I plead the Fifth.”

At a Pima County Sheriff’s Department substation, Deputy Audetat guided Mr. Loughner to a tiny interview room with a two-way mirror, directed him to a plastic blue chair and offered him a glass of water. The deputy detected no remorse; nothing.

Now to another building for the mug shot. Look into the camera, the suspect was told. He smiled.


Mr. Loughner’s spellbinding mug shot — that bald head, that bright-eyed gaze, that smile — yields no answer to why, why, why, why, the aching question cried out in a subdued Tucson synagogue last week. Does the absence of hair suggest a girding for battle? Does the grin convey a sense of accomplishment, or complete disengagement from the consequence of his actions?

And is his slightly blackened left eye all but winking at the wholesale violence that preceded the camera’s click? The attack on a meet-and-greet event with a congresswoman outside a supermarket; the killing of six people, including the chief federal judge in Arizona and a 9-year-old girl; the wounding of 13, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords, shot in the head.

Since last Saturday’s shooting frenzy in Tucson, investigators and the news media have spent the week frantically trying to assemble the Jared Loughner jigsaw puzzle in hopes that the pieces will fit, a clear picture will emerge and the answer to why will be found, providing the faint reassurance of a dark mystery solved.

Instead, the pattern of facts so far presents only a lack of one, a curlicue of contradictory moments open to broad interpretation. Here he is, a talented saxophonist with a prestigious high school jazz band, and there he is, a high school dropout. Here he is, a clean-cut employee for an Eddie Bauer store, and there he is, so unsettling a presence that tellers at a local bank would feel for the alarm button when he walked in.

Those who see premeditation in the acts Mr. Loughner is accused of committing can cite, for example, his pleading of the Fifth Amendment or the envelope the authorities found in his safe that bore the handwritten words “Giffords,” “My assassination” and “I planned ahead” — or how he bided his time in the supermarket, even using the men’s room. Those who suspect he is insane, and therefore a step removed from being responsible for his actions, can point to any of his online postings, including:

“If 987,123,478,961,876,341,234,671,234, 098,601,978,618 is the year in B.C.E then the previous year of 987,123,478,961,876, 341,234,671,234,098,601,978,618 B.C.E is 987,123,478,961,876,341,234,671,234,098, 601,978,619 B.C.E.”

What the cacophony of facts do suggest is that Mr. Loughner is struggling with a profound mental illness (most likely paranoid schizophrenia, many psychiatrists say); that his recent years have been marked by stinging rejection — from his country’s military, his community college, his girlfriends and, perhaps, his father; that he, in turn, rejected American society, including its government, its currency, its language, even its math. Mr. Loughner once declared to his professor that the number 6 could be called 18.

As he alienated himself from his small clutch of friends, grew contemptuous of women in positions of power and became increasingly oblivious to basic social mores, Mr. Loughner seemed to develop a dreamy alternate world, where the sky was sometimes orange, the grass sometimes blue and the Internet’s informational chaos provided refuge.

He became an echo chamber for stray ideas, amplifying, for example, certain grandiose tenets of a number of extremist right-wing groups — including the need for a new money system and the government’s mind-manipulation of the masses through language.

In the last three months, Mr. Loughner had a 9-millimeter bullet tattooed on his right shoulder blade and turned increasingly to the Internet to post indecipherable tutorials about the new currency, bemoan the prevalence of illiteracy and settle scores with the Army and Pima Community College, both of which had shunned him. He also may have felt rejected by the American government in general, and by Ms. Giffords in particular, with whom he had a brief — and, to him, unsatisfactory — encounter in 2007.

Signs of Trouble?

Jared L. Loughner’s Troubles at Pima Community College

At a Gun Show and a Safeway, Tucson Looks for ‘Normalcy’ (January 16, 2011)
Man Shot in Tucson Rampage Is Arrested at a TV Taping (January 16, 2011)
After Tucson, Is the Anger Gone? (January 16, 2011)
In an Online Game Forum, Tucson Suspect Lashed Out (January 15, 2011)
‘Creepy,’ ‘Very Hostile’: A College Recorded Its Fears (January 13, 2011)
Times Topic: Arizona Shooting
Nearly four years later, investigators say, Mr. Loughner methodically planned another encounter with her. Eight days ago, on a sunny Saturday morning, he took a $14 taxi ride to a meet-your-representative gathering outside a Safeway, they say, and he was armed for slaughter.

Clarence Dupnik, the outspoken sheriff of Pima County, was driving back from Palm Springs when he received word of the shooting. Ms. Giffords and the slain judge, John M. Roll, were friends of his. “It was like someone kicked me in the stomach,” he recalled. “Shock turned to anger. The closer to Tucson, the angrier I got.”

Although his law enforcement colleagues are diligently working to shore up their criminal case to counter a possible plea of insanity that could mitigate punishment, Sheriff Dupnik seems torn about Mr. Loughner’s mental state.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that the whole trial will be about did he know right from wrong,” the sheriff said. “We’ll have 15 psychiatrists saying yes. We’ll have 15 psychiatrists saying no. What do I say? I think he’s mentally disturbed.”

Disturbed enough to be found guilty but insane?

“I majored in psychology at the university,” Sheriff Dupnik answered. “Based on what I’ve seen, he is psychotic, he has serious problems with reality, and I think he’s delusional. Does he meet the legal test of guilty but insane? I don’t know.”

Early Signs of Alienation

One spring morning in 2006, a student showed up at Mountain View High School so intoxicated that he had to be taken to Northwest Hospital, five miles away. A sheriff’s deputy went to the hospital’s emergency room to question the inebriated 17-year-old student, whose eyes were red from crying.

According to a police report, the teenager explained that he had taken a bottle of vodka from his father’s liquor cabinet around 1:30 that morning and, for the next several hours, drank much of its contents. Why? Because I was upset that my father had yelled at me, said the student, Jared Loughner.

In the search for clues to explain the awfulness to come, this moment stands out as the first public breach in the facade of domestic calm in the modest Loughner home on Soledad Avenue in the modest subdivision of Orangewood Estates, its front door shrouded by the wide canopy of an old mesquite tree, its perimeter walled off as if for fortification.

The mother, Amy Loughner, worked as the manager of one of the area’s parks. Pleasant though reserved, she impressed the parents of her son’s friends as a doting mother who shepherded her only child to his saxophone lessons and concerts, and encouraged his dream of one day attending the Juilliard School, the prestigious arts conservatory in New York.

Once, when he was in the ninth grade, Mr. Loughner’s parents had to leave town for a week, and he stayed with the family of his friend, Alex Montanaro. Before leaving, Mrs. Loughner presented Alex’s mother, Michelle Montanaro, with a document that temporarily granted her power of attorney for Jared — in case something happened.

“This is how I knew his mom doted on Jared,” Ms. Montanaro said. “She thought of everything for her son.”

But the father, Randy Loughner, was so rarely mentioned by his son that some of Jared’s friends assumed that his parents were divorced. Mr. Loughner installed carpets and pool decks, and spent much of his free time restoring old cars. Jared drove a Chevy Nova; his mother, an El Camino.

Some neighbors saw Randy Loughner as private; others as standoffish, even a bit scary. As a member of one neighboring family suggested: if your child’s ball came to rest in the Loughners’ yard, you left it there.

And, occasionally, word would trickle back to the homes of Jared’s friends of a family unhappy in its own way. That Jared and his father did not get along. That a palpable sense of estrangement hovered in the Loughner home.

“He would tell me that he didn’t want to go home because he didn’t like being home,” recalled Ashley Figueroa, 21, who dated him for several months in high school.

Teased for a while as a Harry Potter look-alike, then adopting a more disheveled look, Jared seemed to find escape for a while in music, developing a taste for the singular sounds of John Coltrane and Charlie Parker. A talented saxophonist, he could show off his own musical chops by sweetly performing such jazz classics as “Summertime.”

He belonged to the Arizona Jazz Academy, where the director, Doug Tidaback, found him to be withdrawn, though clearly dedicated. He played for two different ensembles, an 18-piece band and a smaller combo, which meant four hours of rehearsal on weekends and many discussions between the director and the mother about her son’s musical prospects.

Signs of Trouble?

Jared L. Loughner’s Troubles at Pima Community College

At a Gun Show and a Safeway, Tucson Looks for ‘Normalcy’ (January 16, 2011)
Man Shot in Tucson Rampage Is Arrested at a TV Taping (January 16, 2011)
After Tucson, Is the Anger Gone? (January 16, 2011)
In an Online Game Forum, Tucson Suspect Lashed Out (January 15, 2011)
‘Creepy,’ ‘Very Hostile’: A College Recorded Its Fears (January 13, 2011)
Times Topic: Arizona Shooting
But Mr. Tidaback did not recall ever seeing Jared’s father at any of the rehearsals or performances. And one other thing: the music director suspected that the teenager might be using marijuana.

“Being around people who smoke pot, they tend to be a little paranoid,” Mr. Tidaback said. “I got that sense from him. That might have been part of his being withdrawn.”

Mr. Tidaback, it seems, was onto something. Several of Jared’s friends said he used marijuana, mushrooms and, especially, the hallucinogenic herb called Salvia divinorum. When smoked or chewed, the plant can cause brief but intense highs.

None of this necessarily distinguished him from his high school buddies. Several of them dabbled in drugs, played computer games like World of Warcraft and Diablo and went through Goth and alternative phases. Jared and a friend, Zane Gutierrez, would also shoot guns for practice in the desert; Jared, Mr. Gutierrez recalled, became quite proficient at picking off can targets with a gun.

But Jared, a curious teenager who at times could be intellectually intimidating, stood out because of his passionate opinions about government — and his obsession with dreams.

He became intrigued by antigovernment conspiracy theories, including that the Sept. 11 attacks were perpetrated by the government and that the country’s central banking system was enslaving its citizens. His anger would well up at the sight of President George W. Bush, or in discussing what he considered to be the nefarious designs of government.

“I think he feels the people should be able to govern themselves,” said Ms. Figueroa, his former girlfriend. “We didn’t need a higher authority.”

Breanna Castle, 21, another friend from junior and senior high school, agreed. “He was all about less government and less America,” she said, adding, “He thought it was full of conspiracies and that the government censored the Internet and banned certain books from being read by us.”

Among the books that he would later cite as his favorites: “Animal Farm,” “Fahrenheit 451,” “Mein Kampf” and “The Communist Manifesto.” Also: “Peter Pan.”

And there was that fascination with dreams. Ms. Castle acknowledged that in high school, she too developed an interest in analyzing her dreams. But Jared’s interest was much deeper.

“It started off with dream interpretation, but then he delved into the idea of accessing different parts of your mind and trying to control your entire brain at all times,” she said. “He was troubled that we only use part of our brain, and he thought that he could unlock his entire brain through lucid dreaming.”

With “lucid dreaming,” the dreamer supposedly becomes aware that he or she is dreaming and then is able to control those dreams. George Osler IV, the father of one of Jared’s former friends, said his son explained the notion to him this way: “You can fly. You can experience all kinds of things that you can’t experience in reality.”

But the Mr. Osler worried about the healthiness of this boyhood obsession, particularly the notion that “This is all not real.”

Gradually, friends and acquaintances say, there came a detachment from the waking world — a strangeness that made others uncomfortable.

Mr. Loughner unnerved one parent, Mr. Osler, by smiling when there wasn’t anything to smile about. He puzzled another parent, Ms. Montanaro, by reading aloud a short story he had written, about angels and the end of the world, that she found strange and incomprehensible. And he rattled Breanna Castle, his friend, by making a video that featured a gas station, traffic and his incoherent mumbles.

“The more people became shocked and worried about him, the more withdrawn he got,” Ms. Castle said.

Not long after showing up intoxicated at school, Jared dropped out. He also dropped out of band. Then, in September 2007, he and a friend were caught with drug paraphernalia in a white van.

Something was happening to Jared Loughner. It was clear to his friends, clear to anyone who encountered him.

Added: Jan-17-2011 Occurred On: Jan-17-2011
By: yorba
Iraq, News
Tags: AZ Shooter, Psycho, Bush, Tucson, Giffords
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