PHOENIX – Details on the January 2011 attack on former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords gleaned from nearly 3,000 pages of documents released Wednesday, including survivor accounts, police reports and interviews with friends and family of Tucson gunman Jared Loughner:
Amy Loughner described her son's run-ins with authorities, use of marijuana and cocaine and increasingly erratic behavior. Randy Loughner said his son became more and more difficult, and it was a challenge to have a rational conversation: "I tried to talk to him. But you can't, he wouldn't let you. ... Lost, lost, and just didn't want to communicate with me no more." Randy Loughner said his son "just doesn't seem right lately."
TALKED TO SELF
Despite the bizarre behavior and his school's recommendation he undergo a mental health evaluation, the parents didn't seek help for him. Loughner, who was ultimately diagnosed with schizophrenia, often talked to himself in the year before the shooting and even laughed during the conversations, which weren't angry or about hurting anyone, his mother said. "And sometimes he would look like he was having a conversation with someone right there. Be talking to someone. I don't know how to explain it. I don't."
Hours after the shooting, Randy Loughner mentioned a video that caused Pima Community College to expel his son. "They didn't like his video. `Cause, he's always, his First Amendment rights. He's, uh, he's too intelligent. You know? And they, and it, and they, they dismissed him from school. Told him he needed to go see, seek medical help to come back to school. ... He felt that the pigs were out to get him."
FIRED FROM JOB
The father considered his son's firing as a salesman at an Eddie Bauer store to be a turning point: "He just wasn't the same. He just, nothing, nothing worked, seem to go right for him."
Loughner bought a 12-gauge shotgun in 2008, but his parents took it away from him after he was expelled. The shotgun was the only gun his parents knew he owned.
One-time Loughner friend Zachary Osler was an employee at a store where Loughner bought a Glock 9 mm handgun with a 15-round magazine in November 2010. Loughner had a military style haircut and cleared all background checks. He used a Visa card to pay the $559 for the gun and a box of ammo.
GUN STORE JOB
Osler remembered Loughner coming into the gun store on at least two occasions in the previous year, including once to apply for a job, for which he was denied. Osler said hello to Loughner during one of the visits, but Loughner didn't acknowledge or look at him and just continued onward.
Osler told investigators he had grown uncomfortable with Loughner's personality. "He would say he could dream and then control what he was doing while he was dreaming."
Osler told investigators Loughner's parents drank heavily and he didn't get along with his father: "A lot of the times I'd be over there his dad would be yellin' at him about whatever. Kind of a somewhat hostile environment. I never really felt comfortable over there."
PISTOL IN WAIST
A few weeks before the shooting, Loughner showed up at the apartment of boyhood friend Anthony Kuck with a 9 mm pistol in his waistband. Loughner said he bought the gun for Christmas for "home protection." Kuck's roommate, Derek Heintz, said Loughner left a bullet as a souvenir. Kuck said he had seen Loughner deteriorate over time: problems with drinking in high school, trouble with police, being kicked out of college, then showing up with a shaved head, bullet tattoos on his shoulder and a gun. "I just know his personality is not normal."
On the day of the shooting, friend Bryce Tierney told investigators that Loughner had called him early in the morning and left a cryptic voicemail that he believed was suicidal. "He just said, `Hey, this is Jared. Um, we had some good times together. Uh, see you later.' And that's it." Tierney tried to call back, but it was a restricted number that didn't register on his phone.
A wildlife agent pulled Loughner over that morning for a traffic violation. He cried and said, "I've just had a rough time," and then composed himself, thanked the agent and shook his hand after he was let go with a warning. The agent asked Loughner again if he was OK, and Loughner said he was going home.
Loughner went to a convenience store immediately before the shooting and had the clerk call a cab for him. As he waited, he paced inside and outside the store and went to the bathroom three or four times. The employee said that as Loughner was waiting for the cab, he looked up at a clock and said, "nine twenty-five, I still got time."
Giffords intern Daniel Hernandez, who helped people sign in as they lined up to see Giffords, recalled handing Loughner a clipboard. "The next thing I hear is someone yell, `gun!"'
Doris Tucker was talking to Giffords when she was shot. All she recalls of Loughner was a dark, slim shape. "I remember screaming and ... hearing the terrible noise, and seeing the cartridges fly," said Tucker, whose husband was wounded. "I was talking, the next thing I knew, she was down. ... I saw her fall." Witness Lane Beck was pulling up in her car, with Giffords and the line of constituents in full view. Loughner was "kind of hopping up and down as he was shooting," she said. "His face was very animated."
Patricia Maisch said Loughner walked up the line of people waiting to talk to Giffords and shot people at random, including the woman next to her. Then, three men tackled him. In the ensuing struggle, Loughner tried to reload. "He was partly on top of me. I had laid down to get out of the line of fire, I didn't know what else to do. ... Apparently he was out of bullets. He pulled the clip out, so I grabbed the clip and would not let him have that." Maisch then kneeled on Loughner's ankles while others held him down, until she noticed that one of the men was bleeding from his head. She went into the Safeway supermarket to get paper towels to stanch the flow of blood.
Hernandez helped tend to his boss after she was shot in the head. "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," Hernandez said. "Her breathing was getting shallower. Uh, I then lifted her up so that she wasn't flat on the ground against the wall."
Loughner had two Glock magazines in his left front pocket, 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 Visa credit card and his Arizona driver's license. He had peach-colored plugs in his ears and was wearing a black beanie, a black hoodie-type sweatshirt, khaki pants and Skechers shoes.
At Loughner's house, police found two shotguns in the trunk of a car parked in the garage, where they also found photographs of President Bill Clinton and other Pima County officials, including Rep. Raul Grijalva eating at a Mexican restaurant. A search of a safe in Loughner's room turned up a gunlock, an envelope with his Glock's serial number on it and two spent bullet casings. The envelope said he planned to go ahead with an assassination. Items seized included a copy of the Anarchist Cookbook, photo negatives and writings.
Loughner was polite and cooperative with authorities the afternoon of the shooting. The conversation as Loughner sat in restraints in an interview room was mainly small talk. Little was said over the four hours. Loughner asked at one point if he could please use the restroom and said "Thank you" when allowed. At another point he complained of being sore: "I'm about ready to fall over." When a detective told Loughner he was going to change his restraints, Loughner responded, "Okay. I'm not going to move."
Tierney, the friend, told investigators he wasn't surprised Loughner shot Giffords. "I don't think he liked Gabrielle Giffords," he said, recalling that when she visited the college they attended, Loughner asked her "`What is government?' and stuff." ... She couldn't give him the answer. ... I feel like he had ... something against Gabrielle Giffords."