A picture of Loughner taken by the Pima County Sheriff's Office's forensic unit, which saw widespread distribution via media outlets. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
March 29, 2013
BY TIM HULL
TUCSON, Ariz. (CN) - Newly released documents show convicted killer Jared Lee Loughner's parents struggling to understand and deal with the mental decline of their son in the days and hours leading up to his 2011 shooting spree.They describe a lonely, isolated figure who wrote inscrutable messages in journals and talked to himself in gibberish.
A federal judge sentenced the 24-year-old late last year to seven consecutive life terms plus 140 years for the fatal shooting spree that nearly ended the life of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
Loughner also killed six people and wounded 13 others at the Jan. 8, 2011, Congress on Your Corner event at a Tucson grocery store. Loughner pleaded guilty after spending months in a federal prison hospital, where he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and forcibly medicated.
The Pima County Sheriff's Department released thousands of pages of previously sealeddocuments related to the investigation this week.
Drawing most of the headlines were transcriptions of interviews with Randy and Amy Loughner just hours after the shootings.
Loughner lived with his parents at the time of the shootings, and he was a troubled, ghostly figure in the household, according to the documents. He had been fired a year before from a job at Eddie Bauer, and lately kicked out Pima County Community College for disturbing classes and making a strange, rambling Youtube video.
The Loughners clearly knew something was happening to their son, and they took a few steps to deal with it. Randy Loughner told investigators that he had locked his son's shotgun, plus his own "antique" gun, in the trunk of his car on the advice of college police. He said that he wouldn't let his son use the car at night - only during the day to look for a job.
He did not know about the Glock that Jared had purchased and would use in the fatal spree.
Randy Loughner described his son as an "outcast" who was "too smart for his own good." He said that Jared always felt like the "pigs were out to get him," and was always writing in a journal, "in his own script or something."
The morning of the shooting, Randy Loughner heard his son leave the house early, at 6 a.m. When Jared returned a short time later wearing a backpack, Randy tried to stop and talk to him, but he "took off running," Randy Loughner said.
Another document in the sheriff's department trove is an interview with a Wal-Mart employee who told investigators that Jared had tried to purchase 9 mm bullets there early on the morning of the shooting. The employee lied to Loughner, telling him that the store was out of the ammunition he wanted.
He told investigators that he "kind o' felt uneasy, to be honest with you."
"I've never encountered someone like him," the employee said.
While Randy Loughner told investigators that his son "just didn't seem right lately," Jared had not been evaluated by a doctor.
Amy Loughner told police that the night before the shooting she had convinced her husband to let Jared take the car to Borders. When he returned home that night he seemed normal, she said.
She described her son as "kind of loner," and talked about the new Skechers sneakers she had just bought him.
She said that Pima Community College had suggested that Jared be evaluated for mental illness, but that Jared had not followed up on it.
"We told him he that he needed to see someone," she said. "His behavior is not normal."
"We'd hear him having conversations with himself," she continued. "He was making all kinds of noises."
She said that they considered his behavior so odd that they "drug-tested him."
The results came back negative.
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