Loughner's family: Mysteries remain

Message from parents expresses sorrow, asks for privacy
2011-01-12T00:00:00Z 2011-01-12T09:38:29Z Loughner's family: Mysteries remainTim Steller and Brady McCombs Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
January 12, 2011 12:00 am  • 

Key mysteries of the Loughner family remained locked inside the four walls of the northwest-side home where mass-murder suspect Jared Lee Loughner has lived all his 22 years, despite a throng of reporters waiting outside Tuesday in hopes of revealing them.

Did Loughner ever get help for apparent mental-health problems?

How did he get $500 to pay for a gun in November?

How did his parents respond to the young man's apparently accelerating mental deterioration?

The questions went unanswered after Loughner's parents, Randy and Amy Loughner, spent the afternoon inside their house with San Diego attorney Judy Clarke, a veteran of death-penalty cases who was assigned to represent Loughner at trial. At about 4 p.m., a man emerged and handed reporters a brief statement from the Loughner family, which extended condolences and an apology to the families of the six people killed Saturday.

"It may not make any difference, but we wish that we could change the heinous events Saturday," the statement said.

Loughner, facing federal murder and attempted-murder charges stemming from Saturday's shooting, is the only child of the Loughners, who live behind thick desert vegetation on North Soledad Avenue, a residential street.

Neighbors say Randy Loughner didn't have a paid job over the years, and that he seemed to be the primary child-rearer. Property records show he has lived there since 1977.

Amy Loughner is the manager at Agua Caliente Park on the Tucson's northeast side, making $53,452 a year, said Gwyn Hatcher, Pima County's human-resources director. She was hired by the county in 1987 as a park maintenance worker.

James Knoll, president of the Friends of Agua Caliente, said he has been working with Amy Loughner on park issues for six years. "I've been impressed with her all along," Knoll said. "She's extremely professional - kind of quiet and kind of reserved, but she takes the business out at the park very seriously."

George Gayan lived next door to the Loughners for 30 years, he said. At one time, he was in low-grade communication with Randy Loughner, Gayan said, but over the years that drifted into no communication at all.

"We weren't friends, and we weren't enemies," Gayan said.

But on the other side of the Loughner home, 19-year-old Anthony Woods said Randy Loughner has been overtly hostile, "constantly yelling very loud at us."

About a year ago, Woods was searching for a lost football on his own family's property, next to the Loughner property. The elder Loughner demanded to know what he was doing and said the young man shouldn't be there, Woods said.

Jason Johnson, who has been staying with his father across the street for two or three months, said he tried to greet both Randy and Jared Loughner at different times. Both turned and walked away without saying anything, Johnson said.

When he spoke to Jared Loughner, "it was like he wasn't home," Johnson said. "The lights were on, but nobody was in there."

Loughner's parents showed up at the doorstep of Roxanne and George Osler IV's house in 2008 looking for their son, who had left home about a week before and had broken off contact, the Oslers said. The Oslers' son, Zach Osler, told them the name of the local hotel where their son was staying, and Jared moved back in, Zach's father said.

Several neighbors who came by the Loughner house Tuesday to see why dozens of reporters, photographers and cameramen were staked out on the street in front of the house said it's important not to villainize the parents for what their son did.

"This is not medieval times; these parents are not responsible for the sins of the child," Brandalyn Clark said. "They weren't out there. They didn't pull the trigger."

Clark's brother went to high school with Loughner, and she said she would bring her two sons by the Loughner house for trick-or-treating at Halloween.

"Their son has problems, and if anything, it goes to show that the community did not step up and give their son the support he needed," Clark said.

Janie Bracamonte, a mother of three who dealt with one of her own children getting involved in drugs, said she could only imagine the pain that Amy and Randy Loughner are enduring.

"No matter what they do, you love your children unconditionally, regardless if they are good or bad. You don't love them any less because they are bad," Bracamonte said. "The only thing that helps is praying."

The Associated Press contributed to this story. Contact reporter Tim Steller at 807-8427 or at tsteller@azstarnet.com Contact reporter Brady McCombs at 573-4213 or bmccombs@azstarnet.com

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