In the months leading up to Jan. 8, 2011, Jared Lee Loughner left a chronicle of advancing mental illness, growing rage and suicidal thoughts on his MySpace page, newly released FBI files show.
Hundreds of pages of files on the Tucson shooting massacre were released Thursday in response to media requests that were made three years ago after the Tucson tragedy. The shooting killed six people and injured 13, including Loughner’s target — then Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
Loughner, now 25, planned the assassination of Giffords. He walked from his parents’ home to a Circle K on the morning of the shooting and took a cab to the Safeway shopping plaza on the northwest side where Giffords was hosting an outdoor Congress on Your Corner event for constituents.
Loughner shot Giffords point blank in the head and then fired into the crowd.
After his arrest, Loughner was diagnosed as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. He was convicted of murder, sentenced to seven life terms plus 140 years and is incarcerated in a federal prison medical facility in Springfield, Mo. He was forcibly medicated in order to be fit for trial.
Loughner had 216 friends on MySpace. It’s unclear how many of them were reading his postings or interacting with him. What is clear in the FBI files is that Loughner’s altered state of mind is not something he kept private. He regularly shared his despair and thoughts of both homicide and suicide on MySpace.
In June of 2010 he writes that he wants to buy a gun:
6/14/10: “I’m looking for a semi automatic shotgun… don’t get in my way.”
Three months later he writes about government control:
9/27/10: “Be careful when you go out of body, the government can control the out of body with programming their energy.”
By December he says he’s scared and believes his account is bugged. He writes that there’s, “an important event in my life that’s going to happen, but this event is in the near future.” He also talks about some “important figures in my dreams” — Hitler, Hillary Clinton and Giffords.
Among dozens more of his MySpace postings released today:
12/20/10: “I can’t stand to look at a f---in pig without thinking about murdering that f---!”
12/20/10: “I have this huge goal at the end of my life: 165 rounds fired in a minute!”
12/20/10: “You f---ing die!”
12/20/10: “OK! I’m f---ing dead! I’m about to prove myself something!”
12/13/10: “Wow! I’m glad I didn’t kill myself. I’ll see you on National T.V.! This is a foreshadow… Why doesn’t anyone talk to me?...”
Much of the documentation released Thursday was redacted. Other files contain pages of interactions with people who called the FBI after the shooting. The documents also contain descriptions of interviews with many of the same people who spoke with the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, which released its files on the case last year.
The information about Loughner’s MySpace page provided some new information, since the account was taken down shortly after the shooting.
Other information in the files:
- Loughner worked in several Tucson-area restaurants. He worked at Quiznos for about six months before he was fired at the end of 2008 for yelling at a customer and pounding on the counter.
- He volunteered at the Pima Animal Care Center but lasted only a month.
- Two of his fellow students from Pima Community College recalled that Loughner would arrive at math class early so he could “write nonsensical passages on the dry erase board.”
- Someone at Pima College told the FBI they remembered seeing Loughner at the library regularly, watching videos, talking loudly to the computer and disturbing others. The person looked over to his computer and noticed he was watching Giffords’ speeches online.
- The parents of one of Loughner’s former friends told the FBI that Loughner had supplied their son with salvia, a plant that can induce hallucinatory experiences. The couple said Loughner talked a lot about alternate and overlapping realities. Other friends said Loughner smoked marijuana and also talked about “shrooms and acid.”