Dupnik: Suspect is mentally unstable

2011-01-09T00:00:00Z 2011-01-09T05:21:56Z Dupnik: Suspect is mentally unstableTim Steller Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
January 09, 2011 12:00 am  • 

The man arrested on suspicion of opening fire at a community meeting held by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Saturday - killing six people and injuring 13 others - disrupted classes at Pima Community College, tried to manipulate his dreams and posted rambling messages on the Internet.

The suspected shooter is Jared Lee Loughner, a 22-year-old who lives on the northwest side. He is mentally unstable and may have had an accomplice, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said Saturday evening.

A former classmate of Loughner at Pima, from which he was suspended Sept. 29 for code-of-conduct violations, said he was "obviously very disturbed."

"He disrupted class frequently with nonsensical outbursts," said Lynda Sorenson, who took a math class with Loughner last summer at Pima Community College's Northwest campus.

Dupnik said the suspected shooter has made death threats before and been contacted by law-enforcement officers. The threats weren't against Giffords, Dupnik said.

Investigators are looking for a second person who may be an accomplice, Dupnik said.

"We are not convinced he acted alone," Dupnik said of the shooter. "We have photos," he said, of a man in his 50s.

"There's some reason to believe that (the shooter) came to this location with another individual. And there's reason to believe the other individual would in some way be involved," he said.

Loughner has several online accounts, which suggest he has spent most of his life on the northwest side: His MySpace profile says he attended Thornydale Elementary School, Tortolita Middle School and Mountain View High School.

As a middle school student, Loughner was "kind of an outcast," said Shannin Macey, who said via e-mail she attended Tortolita and Mountain View with him. In high school, Loughner was in jazz band and played the saxophone but he dropped out in junior year, said Tommy Marriotti, who was a high-school friend of Loughner.

At the time he dropped out, Loughner was having drug problems, Marriotti said, but he seemed to do well once he started taking classes at Pima.

Loughner attended Pima courses from summer 2005 until he withdrew in October after his suspension, the college said.

He tried to enlist in the Army in 2008 but was rejected, said First Sgt. Brian Homme, who oversees Army recruiting in Tucson. Loughner was sent to Phoenix to take a test and physical, but "he was found to be unqualified," Homme said.

Loughner registered to vote for the first time in 2006, said Chris Roads, Pima County's registrar of voters. He registered as an independent and last voted in the 2008 general election.

Sorenson, Loughner's classmate at Pima, said he was asked to leave the pre-algebra class several times and eventually was barred from class.

Pima officials said in a news release that from February to September 2010, Loughner had five contacts with PCC police for classroom and library disruptions at Northwest and West campuses.

Another Pima classmate, Lydian Ali, said Loughner would frequently laugh aloud to himself during the advanced-poetry class they attended. Only about 16 people were in the class, so Loughner's behavior stood out, Ali said.

"It almost seemed like he was on his own planet, because his comments would have nothing to do with what we were talking about," Ali said.

Loughner's online accounts contain some political comments but are dominated by bizarre discussions of his desire to establish a new currency and his disdain for what he considered the public's low literacy rates. He also wrote threatening and despairing messages.

"WOW! I'm glad i didn't kill myself. I'll see you on National T.v.! This is foreshadow .... why doesn't anyone talk to me?.." he posted on MySpace Dec. 14.

On Dec. 13, he wrote: "I don't feel good: I'm ready to kill a police officer! I can say it."

In a posting on YouTube, Loughner wrote repeatedly about a new currency.

"I'm thinking of creating a new currency," he wrote. "Therefore, I'm thinking of a design for my new coins size, shape, color, material, and image to start a new money system."

He also wrote repeatedly about literacy. In a message on YouTube, Loughner wrote: "The majority of people, who reside in District-8 are illiterate - hilarious. I don't control your English grammar structure, but you control your English grammar structure."

In a message posted on his MySpace account, titled "Goodbye friends," Loughner said: "Dear friends...please don't be mad at me. The literacy rate is below 5%. I haven't talked to one person who is literate." It was unclear when it was posted.

In a MySpace profile, Loughner said "My favorite interest was reading, and I studied grammar. Conscience dreams were a great study in college."

Conscious dreaming is trying to manipulate your dreams, an interest Loughner pursued, Marriotti said.

He lists among his favorite books "Mein Kampf" and "The Communist Manifesto". But he also includes a broad variety of other titles, including: "Animal Farm," "Brave New World," "To Kill a Mockingbird," and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest".

In another YouTube message, Loughner said: "I know who's listening: Government Officials, and the People. Nearly all the people, who don't know this accurate information of a new currency, aren't aware of mind control and brainwash methods. If I have my civil rights, then this message wouldn't have happen."

"In conclusion, my ambition - is for informing literate dreamers about a new currency; in a few days, you know I'm conscience dreaming! Thank you!"

In a YouTube video dated Dec. 15, titled "Introduction: Jared Loughner," he describes himself as a U.S. military recruit who had applied to join the Army.

In the video, Loughner makes a rambling mention of "MEPS in Phoenix" an apparent reference to the Military Entrance Processing Station in the state capital that all Arizona recruits from every branch of service pass through before leaving for basic training.

"Every United States military recruit at MEPS in Phoenix is receiving one mini bible before the tests," it said. "Jared Loughner is a United States military recruit at MEPS in Phoenix. Therefore, Jared Loughner is receiving one mini bible before the tests.

"I didn't write a belief on my Army application and the recruiter wrote on the application: None."

Sgt. Homme declined to say why Loughner was rejected, citing confidentiality laws.

Loughner has had at least two minor run-ins with police, online court records show.

In October 2007, Loughner was cited by the Pima County Sheriff's Department for possession of drug paraphernalia, a charge that was dismissed in November 2007 when he completed a diversion program.

One year later, in October 2008, Loughner faced a "local charge" in Marana Municipal Court. That charge was also dismissed following the completion of a diversion program in March 2009.

Court records indicate the Marana case file is due to be purged in December 2013. It's unclear what the exact charge was.

Grant Wiens, 22, attended Mountain View High School with Loughner, although they were not in the same grade.

Wiens also took a class with Loughner at Pima Community College, where they occasionally talked, he said.

"He was a guy in high school who definitely had his opinions on stuff and didn't seem to care what people thought of him," Wiens said. "He did his own thing."

Contact Tim Steller at 807-8427 or tsteller@azstarnet.com. Reporters Carol Ann Alaimo, Alex Dalenberg, Fernanda Echavarri, Patrick Finley, Ernesto Portillo Jr., Kori Rumore and Sarah Trotto contributed to this report.

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

Video

Most Popular

Follow the Arizona Daily Star

Featured businesses

View more...

Deals, offers & events

View more...

Event Calendar

Today's events | Add an event

Most viewed: