Jared Lee Loughner, charged in the Arizona shootings that wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killed six others, left a trail of writings and activities that authorities are analyzing for clues.
Authorities found an envelope in a safe at Loughner’s home in Tucson with handwriting that said “I planned ahead,” “my assassination,” Giffords’s name and what appears to be Loughner’s signature, according to a U.S. District Court criminal complaint filed Sunday.
There was also an Aug. 20, 2007, letter from Giffords on congressional stationery and addressed to Loughner’s home extending appreciation for attending a “Congress on your Corner” event, according to the complaint.
“We’re at the present time looking at every aspect of this individual’s life,” Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik told reporters Sunday.
An acquaintance of Loughner’s since his teenage years described him in an interview with Bloomberg News as a “conspiracy theorist” and “an invisible person” during his high school years.
Loughner, 22, was charged with attempting to kill Giffords, 40, an Arizona Democrat, and two staff members on Jan. 8, and for killing U.S. District Judge John Roll, 63, and Giffords staff member Gabriel Zimmerman, 30, according to the complaint. The attack, which killed four others and injured 11, occurred outside a grocery store in Tucson where Giffords was greeting constituents.
More charges against Loughner are pending, authorities said.
“We do not yet have all the answers,” FBI Director Robert Mueller told reporters at a news conference in Tucson. It is “premature” to conclude “what the motivations were of the individual in this particular case,” he said.
Musings on social-networking sites under Loughner’s name included statements suggesting he planned to “prove” something. “Most people just don’t seem to understand me, but I’m gonna prove to you all how wrong you are,” read a posting on a Facebook page under his name.
“In the course of the investigation we’ll be looking at every one of those postings, any activity he had on the Internet,” said Mueller, who said he hasn’t precluded bringing domestic terrorism charges against Loughner.
In recent months, Loughner posted on the Internet a photograph of a U.S. history textbook with a handgun placed on it, The New York Times reported Sunday. He had prepared Internet videos with rambling statements on the gold standard and mind control, the newspaper reported.
Michelle Martinez, 22, who lives across the street from the Tucson home where Loughner lives with his parents, said she saw him walking in the neighborhood at about 1:45 a.m. on the day of the shooting. He was wearing dark clothes and a hooded sweatshirt, she said in an interview.
“I said, ‘Hey, what’s up,’” said Martinez, who had just arrived at her home. Loughner responded by saying hello, and kept walking, she said.
“I thought it was weird. Why is someone walking around the neighborhood in a hoodie” at that time, Martinez said.
The two of them took some high school classes together in 2005, and talked when they walked to the neighborhood bus stop, she said. In school, Loughner was a “conspiracy theorist,” she said. He said in class that he thought the U.S. government was responsible for the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, she said.
Loughner was “like an invisible person” and “always to himself,” she said. “In class, he was always doodling or something.”
Others in the neighborhood said Loughner rarely responded to greetings as he walked about.
“I tried to talk to him,” said Jason Johnson, 32. “I’d say hello. He’d put his head down and walk away or pretend he didn’t hear me.”
Stephen Woods, 46, who has lived next door to the Loughner family for seven years, said Loughner's father repeatedly complained about trash that went uncollected from Woods’ house.
“He said get your stinking trash out of here,” Woods said. “He yelled, ‘It stinks! Get it out!’”
Aaron Martinez, 18, Michelle’s brother, said that, after the shooting Saturday, he saw Loughner’s father in his driveway crying. “He was outside crying, and a neighbor was consoling him,” Martinez said.
Giffords’ office corresponded with Loughner in 2007 about attending an event where he could meet the congresswoman, and Loughner did attend one that year, Dupnik said at a news conference Sunday.
“There’s absolutely no evidence to indicate anybody else was involved in this,” Dupnik told reporters later in the day.
Giffords was conducting an advertised meeting with constituents when the shootings occurred. Others killed included the 9-year-old granddaughter of Dallas Green, a former baseball pitcher and ex-manager of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Giffords, who won her seat in 2006, remained in critical condition yesterday at the University of Arizona’s University Medical Center in Tucson with a gunshot wound to the head.
Authorities at the crime scene recovered a Glock semi-automatic pistol that Loughner bought Nov. 30 in Tucson, according to the complaint.
Douglas Smith, a spokesman for Army Recruiting Command at Fort Knox, Kentucky, said Loughner attempted to enlist in the Army in 2008 and was rejected.
According to The New York Times, Loughner began to act strangely in classes at Pima Community College and cause unease among classmates. School administrators told Loughner’s parents he had been suspended and would have to get a mental health evaluation to return. Loughner then dropped out in October, a college spokesman told the Times.
Tucson resident Roger Whithed, 55, said he lives three doors away from Loughner’s family and that he and others on the street don’t know the family well.
The street consists of single-story homes with cacti and desert plants in the front yards. Sunday, the windows at the Loughner home were shut and nobody answered the door when a Bloomberg reporter knocked on it.
© Copyright 2016 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.