What Loughner's parents knew: They watched his decline but didn't arrange for treatment

Dad, mom watched his decline, didn't arrange treatment
2013-03-28T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T17:07:53Z What Loughner's parents knew: They watched his decline but didn't arrange for treatmentTim Steller Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 28, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Jared Lee Loughner's parents took away his shotgun and disabled his car nightly but didn't make sure he got a mental-health evaluation in the months before his Jan. 8, 2011, Tucson shooting rampage.

Pima Community College officials told Randy and Amy Loughner in early October 2010 that their son would need a mental-health clearance if he wanted to return to classes.

But when asked by Pima County sheriff's deputies hours after the shooting if Jared ever got a psychological evaluation, father Randy Loughner told them: "No. Couldn't talk to him." His mother said, "We told him that he needed to see someone."

The comments are from transcripts of interviews with the Pima County Sheriff's Department and FBI investigators a few hours after the mass shooting in a parking lot outside a Safeway just northwest of Tucson. They're among about 2,700 pages of reports released Wednesday in response to a public-records request and court filing by the Arizona Daily Star.

Loughner's parents have never given an interview or testified in court, so the documents represent the first glimpse into their thoughts and actions as his strange behavior escalated in the months before the shooting. The then-22-year-old lived with his parents.

In separate interviews with investigators, three to four hours after their son had killed six people and injured 13 others, both pointed to Loughner's forced withdrawal from Pima Community College as a turning point. Campus police had contacted him several times over his strange behavior before he made a paranoid video in September 2010 about what he called his "genocide school," prompting the college to remove him.

"That totally set him over, I think," Randy Loughner told investigators. "I guess he felt like he'd been harassed at school by the campus police or whatever.

"Nothing worked, seemed to go right for him," Randy Loughner told the deputy. However, he added, "He's just too smart for his own good."

At the recommendation of campus police, Randy Loughner took away a shotgun Jared had bought in 2008 and locked it in the trunk of a car, along with another antique gun owned by the family.

Unknown to his parents, Jared Loughner bought a new Glock 9 mm semiautomatic handgun on Nov. 30, 2010. (See sidebar, Page A9.)

Randy Loughner also had been disabling Jared's 1969 Chevrolet Nova at night but didn't on the night of Jan. 7, 2011.

"In the day I let him, he can use the car to go look for a job. He's been looking for a job. With no luck," Randy Loughner said.

Jared had been fired from his job in the Eddie Bauer store at Tucson Mall about a year before, Amy Loughner said. He had saved money from that and previous jobs, and his parents occasionally gave him money in the $10 to $20 range, she said.

The morning of Jan. 8, Randy Loughner heard his son drive away at 6 a.m., return home about 7 a.m., leave and return again at 8 a.m.

When he heard his son pull up, Randy Loughner "looked outside of his front window and saw Jared take what appeared to be a black backpack out of the trunk of his Nova," one of the investigators reported.

At that point, Loughner's parents tried to find out what he was up to, but failed.

"We were going to confront him to see what he was doing with the backpack," she said.

Jared ran away, and his father couldn't catch him, or find him by driving around the neighborhood. Loughner caught a taxi to the Safeway at the corner of Ina and Oracle roads and started shooting at then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others at about 10 a.m.

Loughner's parents and acquaintances saw his decline but had trouble identifying it as mental illness or dealing with it, the reports suggest.

Two acquaintances, young men who had been friends with Loughner when they were kids, told investigators about his visit to their home near the University of Arizona in mid-December 2010. He brought a Glock handgun with an extended magazine.

During that visit, "he just kept on blaming other people for the fact that he couldn't get a job," Anthony Kuck told investigators.

"He has some crazy thoughts where he is just, believes that government is corrupt and he has all these assumptions on things, that he doesn't know what he's talking about. And all I could tell him was like, "Dude, you're so wrong,' " Kuck said.

"I can't fix his brain. I mean, I tried to set his mind straight."

Another one-time friend, Zachary Osler, told investigators the Loughners' home was a "hostile environment" where Osler did not feel comfortable.

Amy Loughner reported that Jared Loughner had taken to having conversations with himself and making unintelligible noises in his room. She suspected his problems were due to drugs, but when she had him take a drug test, the result was negative.

Well before he rebuffed their attempt to talk with him on the morning of Jan. 8, Jared had made communication almost impossible.

"I've told him I didn't want anything to happen to him," Randy Loughner said. "But … he wouldn't communicate with me no more."

Only after the shooting was Loughner diagnosed as schizophrenic by doctors at a federal medical prison. He was sentenced in November to seven consecutive life sentences, plus 140 years.

On StarNet: Read law enforcement interviews with relatives and others who interacted with Jared Lee Loughner at azstarnet.com/pdf

Colo. theater shooter wants plea deal / A15

Star reporters Carli Brosseau, Stephanie Innes, Kimberly Matas, Becky Pallack and Kim Smith contributed to this report. Contact reporter Tim Steller at tsteller@azstarnet.com or 807-8427.

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

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