Con­gress­woman shot in Tuc­son ram­page

22-year-old sus­pect ap­pears to have left trail of bizarre In­ter­net post­ings

The Washington Post Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVID A. FAHREN­THOLD AND CLARENCE WIL­LIAMS

The man iden­ti­fied by au­thor­i­ties as the gun­man in Satur­day’s shoot­ing ram­page, which killed six and crit­i­cally in­jured Rep. Gabrielle Gif­fords (D-Ariz.), ap­pears to have left a trail of bizarre and anti-govern­ment mes­sages on the In­ter­net.

Law en­force­ment sources iden­ti­fied the gun­man as Jared Lee Lough­ner, 22, of Tuc­son. Lough­ner — or some­one us­ing his name — left a se­ries of post­ings and home­made videos that laid out a fer­vent, though largely in­co­her­ent, set of po­lit­i­cal views.

On YouTube, Lough­ner’s pro­file listed Karl Marx and Friedrich En­gels’s “ The Com­mu­nist Man­i­festo” and Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” among his fa­vorite books. He also in­cluded high school English class clas­sics such as “ To Kill a Mock­ing­bird” and “ The Old Man and the Sea,” plus chil­dren’s works such as Ae­sop’s fa­bles and “ The Phan­tom Toll­booth.”

In one video, ti­tled “Amer­ica: Your last me­mory in a ter­ror­ist coun­try!,” a fig­ure in dark cloth­ing and a smi­ley-face mask burns an Amer­i­can flag in the desert. The sound­track is a 2001 song by the band Drown­ing Pool, in which the singer re­peat­edly shrieks “Let the bod­ies hit the

“I don’t think he was even aim­ing. He was just fir­ing at what­ever. . . . But there was no, like, protest state­ment or any­thing crazy.”

— Steven Rayles, eye­wit­ness

floor!”

An­other, posted Dec. 15, be­gins with a line of text read­ing “My Fi­nal Thoughts: Jared Lee Lough­ner!” What fol­lows on the screen are seem­ingly un­con­nected thoughts about cur­rency and dreams, and the words “I can’t trust the cur­rent govern­ment be­cause of the rat­i­fi­ca­tions: the govern­ment is im­ply­ing mind con­trol and brain­wash on the peo­ple by con­trol­ling gram­mar.”

The videos also say that Lough­ner ap­plied to join the U.S. Army. The Army is­sued a state­ment Satur­day say­ing that he at­tempted to en­list but was re­jected for rea­sons that of­fi­cials would not dis­close.

An­other video attacks the po­lice at Tuc­son’s Pima Com­mu­nity Col­lege, where he had been a stu­dent.

School of­fi­cials said in a state­ment late Satur­day that Lough­ner at­tended the com­mu­nity col­lege from 2005 un­til last fall, when he with­drew af­ter dis­ci­plinary prob­lems.

The state­ment said that be­tween Fe­bru­ary and Septem­ber last year, cam­pus po­lice were called five times to deal with dis­rup­tions Lough­ner caused in class­rooms and li­braries. On Sept. 29, the col­lege said, it dis­cov­ered that Lough­ner had posted a YouTube video he had made on the cam­pus.

“In the video, he claims that the Col­lege is il­le­gal ac­cord­ing to the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion, and makes other claims,” the col­lege’s state­ment said.

That day, two po­lice of­fi­cers de­liv­ered a let­ter of sus­pen­sion to Lough­ner at his par­ents’ house in a Tuc­son sub­urb.

On Oct. 4, dur­ing a meet­ing be­tween Lough­ner, his par­ents and col­lege ad­min­is­tra­tors, he agreed to with­draw, the col­lege said. School of­fi­cials told him he could re­turn only if he ob­tained a clear­ance cer­ti­fy­ing that “in the opin­ion of a mental health pro­fes­sional, his pres­ence at the Col­lege does not present a dan­ger to him­self or oth­ers.”

Lough­ner’s trou­bled past also in­cludes a drug ar­rest.

The videos do not men­tion Gif­fords by name. They do not de­scribe any spe­cific ac­tions Lough­ner planned. And they do not seem to link Lough­ner ex­plic­itly to any main­stream po­lit­i­cal group or fig­ures.

Fed­eral law en­force­ment sources said Lough­ner used a Glock 19 semiau­to­matic pis­tol that was found with a fully loaded mag­a­zine that held about 30 bul­lets. He had an­other mag­a­zine that held about 30 bul­lets and two oth­ers that each held about 15 bul­lets. He also was car­ry­ing a knife.

The sources said he was stand­ing about 15 feet from Gif­fords and started run­ning, scream­ing some­thing. Then he be­gan fir­ing rapidly, “pulling the trig­ger re­ally fast.”

An eye­wit­ness to the shoot­ing said a “shabby”-look­ing young man in dark sweats ap­peared as Gif­fords met con­stituents on the side­walk.

Steven Rayle said the shooter raised a hand­gun and shot Gif­fords in the face from a few feet away. Af­ter that, Rayle said, the gun­man shot re­peat­edly into a crowd of peo­ple who had been stand­ing around Gif­fords.

“I don’t think he was even aim­ing. He was just fir­ing at what­ever,” Rayle said. Af­ter the shoot­ing stopped, the gun­man was tack­led, and Rayle said he helped hold him down. Even then, Rayle said, Lough­ner said noth­ing to ex­plain his ac­tions.

“I think he did say some­thing. But there was no, like, protest state­ment, or any­thing crazy,” Rayle said. As peo­ple strained to hold him on the ground, “ he might have just said, ‘ Stop.’ ”

Lough­ner’s ad­dress is in a neigh­bor­hood of ranch houses and ram­blers in a Tuc­son sub­urb lined with palm trees and cac­tus, just a few miles from the shop­ping cen­ter where Gif­fords was shot. By midafter­noon, po­lice had cor­doned off an area of sev­eral blocks, as streams of re­porters and other in­ter­ested peo­ple rushed to the neigh­bor­hood.

In high school, Lough­ner played sax­o­phone in the jazz band, and his clothes al­ter­nated be­tween typ­i­cal Ari­zona high school fash­ions — shorts and a T-shirt — and “Goth” clothes. Some days, said friend Ti­mothy Cheves, Lough­ner would wear long, dark pants with chains on them, and T-shirts with the names of heavy-metal bands.

“He wasn’t very out­go­ing, but he was per­son­able. If you sat down to talk to him, he would talk to you back,” Cheves, 22, said. “But he’d get frus­trated with peo­ple eas­ily. . . . He’d think that a lot of peo­ple were just id­iots.”

That in­cluded peo­ple in pol­i­tics, Cheves said: “He was like a rad­i­cal against both par­ties. ... From what I got, it seemed like he didn’t like any­body that was in power.”

Cheves re­called one moment when they worked to­gether at a res­tau­rant, the Man­darin Grill, where Lough­ner was a dish­washer.

“I was try­ing to tell him, you know, you need to get your life on the right track,” Cheves said. He be­lieved Lough­ner was us­ing mar­i­juana. “I was telling him about God and all that. And he broke down cry­ing, and he gave me a big ol’ hug, and said, ‘ Thank you, you’re one of the only ones that ever lis­tened to me.’ ”

Lough­ner never talked of us­ing vi­o­lence, Cheves said, but “ there was some­thing there that wasn’t quite right.”

GETTY IM­AGES

Ac­cord­ing to law en­force­ment sources, the shooter’s gun was a Glock 19, a semiau­to­matic pis­tol fab­ri­cated out of ad­vanced syn­thetic poly­mers by Glock Ges.m.b.H., based in Deutsch-Wa­gram, Aus­tria. The weapon is a com­pact ver­sion of the com­pany’s more widely known Glock 17 pis­tol, a stan­dard sidearm of NATO forces and many po­lice de­part­ments. Glock pis­tols are said to com­mand the ma­jor­ity of the hand­gun mar­ket for U.S. law en­force­ment agen­cies. The Glock 19 was first pro­duced in 1988, pri­mar­ily for mil­i­tary and law en­force­ment use. It uses a stan­dard 15-round mag­a­zine but can ac­com­mo­date mag­a­zines up to 33 rounds. It fires a 9x19 Para­bel­lum round, also known as a 9mm.

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