Pima College contacted ATF about Loughner after video intensified concern

2011-05-19T14:26:00Z 2011-05-19T19:17:44Z Pima College contacted ATF about Loughner after video intensified concernTim Steller, Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 19, 2011 2:26 pm  • 

Pima Community College police contacted the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms on Sept. 29, 2010, to check on any records related to Jared Lee Loughner and guns.

The Oct. 1 response from a Tucson ATF agent was terse: “I did not come up with any gun info on this guy. Let me know if you need anything else.”

About two months later, on Nov. 30, Loughner bought a semiautomatic pistol at Sportsman’s Warehouse in Marana.

The electronic exchange  is contained in a new batch of 255 pages of emails that PCC had previously withheld but was ordered to release Wednesday by a Pima County Superior Court Judge Stephen Villarreal.

Some of the emails are redacted, and many of the pages duplicate each other, but overall they portray a building sense of mobilization and dread among college administrators and police as they moved to suspend Loughner and keep him off campus. That concern peaked in late September and early October after Loughner posted a disturbing online video of PCC.

On Sept. 26, 2009, tai chi instructor Barry Brownsteind wrote to staff in the fitness and sports sciences department: “I could tell he had emotional problems but my mission is to help everyone. And I never let the psychos run the clinic, ever.”

On June 4, 2010, academic dean Patricia Houston wrote to four administrators that she spoke with Pima police officers about Loughner after attending an “Active Shooter scenario training.”

One officer, Houston wrote, “responded and told me that he would begin the process to take the student out of the class and expel him. I told him that we were not ready to do that because we need more investigation.”

On Sept. 23, administrator Lorraine Morales wrote to Northwest Campus program manager Aubrey Conover about Loughner:

“All we can do with this student is to actually address the behavior and performance. What have you said to the student? Have you provided anything in writing to the student regarding the behavior? ... A written warning informing the student of expectations is required and then follow the process ... a behavior contract maybe, with parameters to understand the consequences.”

As emails flew between PCC officials, the college’s legal liaison, Lynne Wakefield, wrote to administrator Morales and said “Sorry. I get worried about these folks.”

But that was before Sept. 29, when officers found out about the video, in which a narrator’s voice says “This is my genocide school.”

“This is disconcerting. The student sounds very disturbed about the college and other students,” excutive vice chancellor David Bea wrote to police chief Stella Bay.

Officers circulated emails that day, trying to confirm who had made the video, and that same night, four police officers went to Loughner’s home and served him a letter of suspension.

Soon after, police officers and administrators put together a flyer about Loughner for distribution within limited staff circles on campus. It had Loughner’s photo on it and said: “Jared Lee Loughner is not permitted on any Pima Community College property. If you see him please contact Campus Police immediately ...  .”

Throughout the newly released emails, teachers, administrators and officers refer to Loughner as “disturbed.” But they don’t discuss in detail getting him into psychological help.

On one afternoon in April 2010, Pima Community College police took a woman from the college’s east campus to Kino hospital for psychiatric evaluation. That same afternoon on the northwest campus, officers were called to the library regarding Loughner, who was not responding to library staff. The officers talked with Loughner and “cleared without incident.”

On May 12, an employee in the Disabled Student Resources office employee wrote to six other employees saying an instructor had called about Loughner and asking whether he was a disabled student. He wasn’t.

On the day Loughner was suspended, student services program manager Diane Deskin wrote a summary of police contacts and behavioral issues with Loughner. It also included “Notes for EAP clinical guidance,” a reference to the college’s Employee Assistance Program for behavioral-health problems.

“Pima DPS very concerned, immediate suspension, welfare check and refer to Behavior Assessment Committee to give advice on restrictions for return.”

Within 10 days, that committee had decided Loughner should not come back unless he gets a mental health evaluation showing he is not a danger to himself or others.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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