If Jared Lee Loughner had a motive for the shooting spree he is accused of carrying out in Tucson, Ariz., last weekend, no one knows it. The alleged killer has reportedly refused to talk to the authorities, and the full content of the notes he left behind has not been made public. But reporters are slowly piecing together a picture of the 22-year-old from accounts by his friends and former associates. (Watch an interview with his ex-girlfriend.) Here, 9 things we've learned about Loughner so far:
1. He took racy photos of himself before the act
Before Loughner allegedly went on his shooting spree, he took photographs of himself wearing a "bright red g-string" and posing with a Glock 9mm — the same weapon used in the shooting — "next to his naked buttocks." In some photos he is holding the gun next to his crotch. Loughner took the film to Walgreens to be developed before the shootings, reports The New York Times. Staff handed it in to police after the shooting.
2. He didn't watch TV and disliked news
Zach Osler, a high school friend of Loughner's, told ABC's "Good Morning America" that the alleged shooter was not obsessed with politics or the news. In fact, Loughner didn't even watch TV. "He disliked the news," said Osler. "He didn't listen to political radio. He didn't take sides. He wasn't on the left, he wasn't on the right."
3. His parents are loners
Randy and Amy Loughner are an intensely private couple, say neighbors. They are reportedly religious. The couple's behavior has been described as "vituperative and hostile," and a county sheriff said that Jared Loughner's family was "somewhat dysfunctional." Neighbors have said that the couple's standoffish, even "contemptuous" behavior perplexed and discomfited them.
4. He was a bad poet
Loughner took an advanced poetry-writing class last year, for which he composed odes to "bland tasks such as showering, going to the gym and riding the bus," reports CBS News. In class, Loughner would read his poems in a "wild 'poetry slam' style," grabbing his crotch like a hip-hop star and "jumping around the room." During one class, he burst out laughing when another student read a poem about abortion. He was finally ejected from the class after talking about "strapping guns to babies."
5. He loved conspiracy theories
Loughner's favorite movies include Loose Change, the 9/11 "Truther" conspiracy movie, and he was obsessed with supposed government cover-ups. He believed that the U.S. government was attempting to create a unified monetary system to impose control on the rest of the world, and that it was attempting to brainwash the population by "controlling grammar." He also believed the moon landings were faked.
6. He was a video game fan
Loughner would regularly post messages to forums "associated with the online game Earth Empires," reports Alexandra Berzon at The Wall Street Journal. An online multiplayer game, Earth Empires — formerly known as Earth:2025 — required players to take on the roles of countries and build empires. But, for the future alleged murderer, "the community forums were far more important than the game itself." He posted "nonsensical rants" about rape, handicapped people, and the teachers at his community college.
7. A break-up may have sent him over the edge — and into drugs
A former girlfriend of Loughner's claimed he began to go "off the rails" after she broke up with him. Kelsey Hawkes dated Loughner in 2005, but ended it after about a year. The break-up, claims Hawkes, changed the alleged killer. He went from being an ordinary teenager to "cutting himself off from mutual friends" and began "taking drugs and alcohol." Various former friends and associates claim that Loughner became a frequent drug user in recent years — consuming "marijuana, cocaine, psilocybin mushrooms," and salvia, a legal hallucinogen, on a regular basis. His application to join the U.S. Army was denied after he failed a drug test.
8. He was a dog lover
Former high-school friend Osler also told ABC that Loughner cared more about his dog, Hannah, than he did his parents. Neighbors said he would often be seen walking the dog, wearing a hooded sweat shirt and listening to his iPod.
9. He was pulled over by police on the day of the shooting
Early Saturday morning, Loughner ran a red light on a road near the Safeway supermarket where he would later start shooting. An officer with the Arizona Game and Fish Department pulled him over, but released him after finding his license and insurance to be in order. "We had no probable cause to hold [him] or do an extensive search," an agency spokesman said.
Sources: ABC News, CBS News, AOL, MSNBC, Wall Street Journal
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- After Ferguson: Stop deferring to the cops
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- Is it now OK to have sex with animals?
- The hilarious hypocrisy of Republicans complaining about the imperial presidency
- Ferguson riots were terrible — but this racist reaction was worse
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- How to survive a spaceship disaster
- In Ferguson, Michael Brown lost his life — and America's police lost the benefit of the doubt
- Don't argue about politics this Thanksgiving. Just don't.
Subscribe to the Week