Father chased son into desert before shooting

Mysterious black bag in hand, Jared Loughner ran into the desert, his angry father stopping pursuit in his truck.

Hours after Randy Loughner’s futile confrontation with his 22-year-old son Saturday morning, six people were shot dead and more than a dozen others wounded — and Jared Loughner was in custody.

The sheriff’s deputies who swarmed the Loughners’ house removed what they describe as evidence Jared Loughner was targeting Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who doctors said Tuesday was breathing on her own for the first time after taking a bullet to the forehead. Among the handwritten notes was one with the words “Die, bitch,” which authorities told The Associated Press they believe was a reference to Giffords.

Investigators with the Pima County Sheriff’s Department previously said they found handwritten notes in Loughner’s safe reading “I planned ahead,” “My assassination” and “Giffords.” Capt. Chris Nanos said all the writings were either in an envelope or on a form letter Giffords’ office sent him in 2007 after he signed in at one of her “Congress on Your Corner” events — the same kind of gathering where the massacre occurred.

On the morning of the shooting, a mumbling Jared Loughner fled after his father asked him why he was removing a black bag from the trunk of a family car, said Nanos and Rick Kastigar, chief of the department’s investigations bureau. Investigators are still searching for the bag.

Meanwhile, this city held a tribute to victims the eve of a presidential visit.

On Tuesday night, several hundred mourners filled a Tucson church for a public Mass to remember the slain and pray for the injured. As people filed in, nine young girls sang “Amazing Grace.” The youngest victim of the attack, 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, was a member of that choir.

“I know she is singing with us tonight,” said Tucson Bishop Gerald Kicanas, who presided over the service.

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama visits Arizona and gives a speech honoring the victims to a rattled state and nation.

In one apparent reaction, the FBI said background checks for handgun sales jumped in Arizona following the shootings, though the agency cautioned that the number of checks doesn’t equate to the number of handguns sold.

Still, there were 263 background checks in Arizona on Monday, up from 164 for the same day a year ago — a 60 percent rise. Nationally, the increase was more modest: from 7,522 last year to 7,906 Monday, a 5 percent jump.

Loughner’s parents, silent and holed up in their home since the shooting spree, issued a statement Tuesday, expressing remorse over the shooting.

“There are no words that can possibly express how we feel,” Randy and Amy Loughner wrote in a statement handed to reporters waiting outside their house. “We wish that there were, so we could make you feel better. We don’t understand why this happened.

“We care very deeply about the victims and their families. We are so very sorry for their loss.”

Sheriff’s deputies had been to the Loughner home at least once before the attack, spokesman Jason Ogan said. He didn’t know why or when the visit occurred, and said department lawyers were reviewing the paperwork and expected to release it Wednesday.

The visits were for nonviolent incidents, including a report by Jared Loughner of identity theft, a noise complaint and Amy Loughner’s claim that someone had stolen her license plate sticker, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.

In addition to the new details about the hours before the shooting, interviews with those who knew Loughner or his family painted a picture of a young loner who tried to fit in.

Before everything fell apart, he went through the motions as many young men do nowadays: Living at home with his parents, working low-wage jobs at big brand stores and volunteering time doing things he liked.

None of it worked. His relationship with his parents was strained. He clashed with co-workers and police. And he couldn’t follow the rules at an animal shelter where he spent some time.

One close high school friend who requested anonymity to avoid the publicity surrounding the case said he would wait outside 10 minutes for Jared to leave the house when they were going out. When Jared would get into the car, he’d say that it took so long because his parents were hassling him.

The parents of another close friend recalled how Loughner’s parents showed up at their doorstep in 2008 looking for their son, who had left home about a week before and broken off contact.

While the friend, Zach Osler, didn’t want to talk with the AP, his parents Roxanne and George Osler IV did.

With the Loughners at their house, Zach Osler told them the name of the place where their only child was staying, Zach’s father said.

Loughner was arrested in October 2008 on a vandalism charge near Tucson after admitting he scrawled the letters “C” and “X” on a road sign in a reference to what he said was Christianity. His address listed on the police report was an apartment near his home.

Loughner eventually moved back in with his parents.

Even when Loughner tried to do good, it didn’t work out.

A year ago, he volunteered walking dogs at the county animal shelter, said Kim Janes, manager of the Pima Animal Care Center. He liked dogs; neighbors remember him as the kid they would see walking his own.

But at the shelter, staff became concerned: He was allowing dogs to play in an area that was being disinfected after one had contracted a potentially deadly disease, the parvovirus.

“He didn’t think the disease was that threatening and when we tried to explain how dangerous some of the diseases are, he didn’t get it,” Janes said.

Loughner wouldn’t agree to keep dogs from the restricted area, and was asked to come back when he would. He never returned.

Loughner also jumped from paid job to job because he couldn’t get along with co-workers, according to the close high school friend who requested anonymity. Employers included a Quiznos sandwich shop and Banana Republic, the friend said.

On his application at the animal shelter, he listed customer service work at Eddie Bauer.

Loughner grew up on an unremarkable Tucson block of low-slung homes with palm trees and cactus gardens out front. Fittingly, it’s called Soledad Avenue — Spanish for solitude.

Solitude found Loughner, even when he tried to escape it. He had buddies but always fell out of touch, typically severing the friendship with a text message. Zach Osler was one such friend.

Loughner’s father moved into the house as a bachelor, and eventually got married, longtime next-door neighbor George Gayan said. Property records show Randy Loughner has lived there since 1977.

Gayan said he and Randy Loughner had “differences of opinion but nothing where it was radical or violent.” He declined to provide specifics. “As time went on, they indicated they wanted privacy,” Gayan said.

Unlike other homes on the block, the Loughners’ is obscured by plants. It was assessed in 2010 at $137,842.

Randy Loughner apparently has not worked for years — at least outside his home.

Amy Loughner got a job with the county parks and recreation department just before Jared was born, and since at least 2002 has been the supervisor for Roy P. Drachman Agua Caliente Park on the outskirts of the city. She earns $25.70 an hour, according to Gwyn Hatcher, Pima County’s human resources director.

Linda McKinley, 62, has lived down the street from the Loughner family for decades and said the parents could not be nicer — but that she had misgivings about Jared as he got older.

“As a parent, my heart aches for them,” she said.

She added that when she was outside watering her plants she would see Jared riding down the street on his bike, often talking to himself or yelling out randomly to no one.

McKinley recalled that once he yelled to some children on the street: “I’m coming to get you!”

___

Associated Press writers Alicia Chang and Gillian Flaccus in Tucson, Jacques Billeaud in Phoenix, Christy Lemire in Los Angeles and news researcher Julie Reed in Charlotte, N.C., contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press

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4 Responses to "Father chased son into desert before shooting"

  1. Carl Nemo  January 12, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    “Unlike other homes on the block, the Loughners’ is obscured by plants. It was assessed in 2010 at $137,842.

    Randy Loughner apparently has not worked for years — at least outside his home.

    Amy Loughner got a job with the county parks and recreation department just before Jared was born, and since at least 2002 has been the supervisor for Roy P. Drachman Agua Caliente Park on the outskirts of the city. She earns $25.70 an hour, according to Gwyn Hatcher, Pima County’s human resources director.” …extract from article

    Jared Loughner is an adult and yes is their son, but what business is it of anyone’s as to what these two people, the parents do for a living, the value of their home etc.

    They are not suspects. Obviously this wasn’t an “Ozzie and Harriet” household, but just the same this type of information being disclosed demonstrates what an avaricious and mean-spirited society in which we live.

    If people want answers as why our nation has degenerated to such violence, simply look at our leaders and their endless preoccupation with waging engineered wars in far off places. Study the quality and tenor of our MSM throughout the various venues from entertainment to news reporting.

    Violence sells bigtime whether it’s in the theaters or even a more specific market such as video games. Our children virtually teeth on violence and eventually sex or a combination of the two with most productions having a seedy to dark undercurrent. I don’t play such games, but I remember a few years back a youngster raving about one title “Grand Theft Auto”. Yep, that’s surely the type of material we want young impressionable minds to soak up. I’m sure there are many more that keep youngsters ‘stoked’ 24/7/365. The big question is who will become priests, car thieves, serial killers or in this case assassins as a function of such an upbringing.

    So in essence our leaders in government, the entertainment industry along with a now impotent ‘suckup’ press have created an environment that seems to gear America for eventual mass technological assisted suicide.

    “We’ve met the enemy and he is us”…from Pogo a Walt Kelly cartoon strip

    Carl Nemo **==

  2. jim0001  January 14, 2011 at 10:39 am

    24/7 news requires that the most irrelevant minutia be reported.
    Video games do not cause violence, but they de-sensitize people to it. The mass murderers are looking for the reset button so they can start a new game and do not realize life has no “Play again?” icon.
    One military training mantra is “Train as you fight”. For impressionable graphic violent / sexual / occult media help this. A lack of parental involvement provides the opportunity to pursue the cirrucilum. In todays society the norm is to be your childrens friend and not their parent. They want Joe and Molly to be happy so they allow placebo’s in lieu of role models, mentorship, and love.

  3. jim0001  January 14, 2011 at 10:48 am

    Should read: “impressionable developing young minds, graphic …”

    Sorry, I need new bi-focals to help my proofreading.

  4. Carl Nemo  January 14, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    “Video games do not cause violence, but they de-sensitize people to it.” …extract from post

    Thanks Jim0001 for using the word desensitize relative to video games and even theatrical productions. Also your mention of modern era parent being the child’s ‘friend/buddy’ rather than a parent and mentor as part of the problem is spot-on.

    I’ll be 66 in a couple of weeks and can relate to your bifocal problem. They drive me nuts so I generally wear 2.0 full frame readers on a neck lanyard for computer work etc. I’ve given up on bifocals entirely and simply have separate glasses for each function. I tried trifocals for a while with the mid panel handy for instrumentation in the car etc. My far vision is still good. I probably should crack my piggybank and get laser surgery. My brothers have done so and swear by the procedure.

    Nice to hear from again. It’s been some time.

    Carl Nemo **==

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