Tucson shooting: Last hours before rampage show Loughner unraveling

2013-03-28T00:00:00Z 2013-03-28T07:32:04Z Tucson shooting: Last hours before rampage show Loughner unravelingArizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 28, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Jared Lee Loughner's mental unraveling is illustrated in thousands of investigative reports released Wednesday by the Pima County Sheriff's Department.

Detectives interviewed relatives, friends and witnesses in the days and hours after he opened fire in a Safeway parking lot in an effort to assassinate then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Here are some of the major findings:

MOTEL 6

Loughner checked in to Motel 6, 4630 W. Ina Road, around 12:30 a.m. the day of the shooting. Hotel lock records indicate he didn't sleep much, with the door opening and closing repeatedly during the night. Hotel workers weren't sure when Loughner left.

Tearful TRAFFIC STOP

Loughner was driving a car registered to his family when he went through a red light at 7:30 a.m. the day of shooting. He inched toward the intersection, then drove through the red light while making eye contact in the rearview mirror with a state wildlife agent behind him.

"I'm just kinda driving around," he told the agent who stopped him, according to a report. The agent recalled saying, "I'm not gonna write you a citation for this. And when I said that to him his face got kinda screwed up and he started to cry. And that struck me as a little odd."

The officer asked Loughner if he was OK.

"He said, 'Yeah, I'm OK, I've just had a-a-a rough time, and I really thought I was gonna get a ticket.'"

The agent asked Loughner again if he was OK, and Loughner said he was going home.

He then shook the officer's hand.

CALLING A CAB

On the morning of the shooting about 9 a.m., Loughner went to the Circle K at 3712 W. Cortaro Farms Road and asked a worker to call a cab for him. While waiting, he paced a lot and went to the restroom three or four times.

At one point he looked at the clock, which said 9:25 a.m. and said, "I've still got time." Before the cab came, Loughner walked back into the Circle K and shook the employee's hand and thanked her.

The cab took him to Safeway. The driver said the ride was mostly quiet but Loughner suddenly explained that he drank too much.

WITNESS

A witness described seeing an ominous-looking man in his early 20s wearing a backpack near the shooting scene. The witness later described recognizing Loughner as that person from photos on the news.

standing in line

Alex Villec, a former Giffords intern, went to help at the Congress on Your Corner that day. He said he spoke to Loughner before the shooting. Loughner came up to Villec and and asked if he could talk to the congresswoman and whether she was there.

"I said, 'Yeah, actually, you can join the other people at the end of the line, she'll be with you in about 15, 20 minutes, not a problem.' He was a little standoffish, kind of defensive, didn't seem to care what I had to say.

"He walked to the back, seemingly complying. It looked like it was nothing big. But then he came back, must have been 30 seconds to a minute later, which is atypical because, because I had already talked to him and I thought he was in line. But he came back, was stone cold face, barged through the table separating him from me and the congresswoman."

Villec said he saw Giffords go into a "natural self-defense, you know, to shield herself from, from all this being inflicted upon her."

THE ENCOUNTER

Intern Daniel Hernandez described how constituents and other people were lining up to see Giffords, and he was helping people sign in. He recalled handing Loughner a clipboard. "The next thing I hear is someone yell, 'gun.' "

THE SCENE

The first words of Giffords aide Ron Barber after getting shot twice and falling to the ground were, "Is she shot?" referring to the congresswoman.

It was Barber who directed Hernandez to stay with Giffords.

"He told me to stay with the congresswoman. Whatever I did, to make sure I was staying with the congresswoman," Hernandez said.

In an interview, Hernandez described the chaos: "She couldn't open her eyes. I tried to get any responses for her. Um, it looked like her left side was the only side that was still mobile. Um, she couldn't speak. It was mumbled. She was squeezing my hand.

"I did some training as a certified nursing assistant and as a phlebotomist, um, when I was in high school. So I knew that we need to see if she's got a pulse. She was still breathing. Her breathing was getting shallower. Uh, I then lifted her up so that she wasn't flat on the ground against the wall," he said.

"I ended up having to hold on to the oxygen and to the congresswoman's hand while she was being put in the ambulance. I then rode with her to UMC. In the ambulance I made two phone calls. The first was to state Rep. Steve Farley of District 28. I knew he was very good friends with Congresswoman Giffords. So I had him notify her mother and her father, who are in Tucson, and also see if someone could call Mark Kelly, who is her husband.

"The second call was to my family and I left a voice mail to let them know that I had been at the event and that there were injuries and I was not one of them."

CARING FOR GIFFORDS

A firefighter described how he cared for Giffords after arriving at the scene. "You'd ask her to grab your hand and she would grab your hand," he said. He and paramedics rushed her to the hospital in an ambulance, giving her oxygen and an IV.

LENDING A SHIRT

Kalil Bottling merchandiser Manuel Hernandez rushed out of Safeway after the shots ceased. He offered his work shirt to be used in applying pressure to Giffords' wounds.

LOUGHNER FRIEND

In the last half of 2010, Loughner applied for a job at the same Sportsman's Warehouse store where he later bought a Glock handgun before the shooting. He didn't get the job. A former friend from Mountain View High School, Zachary Osler, worked there and recalled seeing his former classmate in the store.

Osler said Loughner was a lot different than he was in high school. When he greeted him, Loughner said nothing.

"Just a mute facial expression," Osler said. Like "he didn't care."

Osler, talking about Loughner in high school, said: "Weird kid. He'd say weird things. Talk about weird things like how he consciously dreams while he's awake."

"I do know he tried to join the Army at one point. And they did mental evaluations on him. And they didn't accept him."

"He would say he could dream. And then control what he was doing while he was dreaming."

He thought Loughner started doing tai chi, or learning it. Osler said he knew Loughner's car - a black 1969 Chevy Nova.

When he learned that Loughner was the suspect in the shooting, "my jaw just dropped. And I was like I know this person. Why he would do it? What would his motive be? If he had people help him? I do not know."

POSSESSIONS

In Loughner's left front pocket were two magazines for a Glock, both fully loaded. In his other front pocket was a foldable knife with about a 4-inch blade. In his back right pocket, he had a baggie with some money, a credit card and his Arizona driver's license. He was wearing a black beanie, a black hoodie-type sweatshirt and khaki pants.

Loughner also had ear plugs. A Walgreens surveillance camera captured him buying them for $1.99 at 2:23 a.m. on Jan. 8.

KEN VEEDER

The Vietnam vet was shot in the lower calf. Had been talking with Mary Reed and her daughter before the shooting.

"I heard pop, pop, pop and I thought, son of a bitch," Veeder said.

He grabbed the gun. Witness Patricia Maisch told him not to shoot Loughner. He put the gun under his foot until law enforcement arrived. "I was in combat reaction," he told detectives.

Reed was one of the 13 injured. Her daughter was not wounded.

EXPRESSIONLESS

When she took away Loughner's gun magazine, witness Maisch berated him: "How could you do this? How could you hate so much?"

Witness Joseph Zamudio told detectives that Loughner was "expressionless" after the shooting: "He didn't care."

Zamudio was carrying a concealed weapon but did not take it out. It would have just caused more hysteria, he said.

SEARCH WARRANT

When investigators served a search warrant at the house where Loughner lived with his parents, his father, Randy, cried and apologized for what had happened.

Investigators found a safe inside Jared Loughner's room that contained items he appeared to expect someone to find after the shooting.

There was an envelope containing two cartridge casings. On the outside was a Glock serial number and writings "to the effect of I planned ahead my assassination, these are the first two shells of my gun and a date of 12/06/10."

Also inside the safe was a gun lock with a paper inside that "had writing on it including words to the effect of hold on to this … you have a piece of a historic gun … 2010, Jared Lee Loughner."

Additionally, investigators found a small black memory card, a small pin and another handwritten note.

They seized the kitchen desktop computer, notebooks and printouts related to the First Amendment.

ARREST

The gunman was cooperative with deputies who held him after his arrest at the grocery store. There was little conversation. Loughner cited the Fifth Amendment. He asked at one point if he could please use the restroom and said "thank you" when he was allowed. At another point he complained, "I'm about ready to fall over."

CODE NAMES

Code names of the shooting victims at University Medical Center included "Lasso" for Gabrielle Giffords and "Parsley" for Ron Barber.

Compiled by Carli Brosseau, Stephanie Innes, Kimberly Matas, Becky Pallack, Kim Smith and Tim Steller.

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

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