Police release photos from Tucson shooting rampage
Phoenix • Photos taken in the aftermath of the attack that killed six people and wounded former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords show the handgun, high-capacity pistol magazines and knife that Jared Lee Loughner carried with him as he carried out the January 2011 attack.
The 600 photos, released Tuesday, also show images of a credit card record showing earplugs Loughner bought, and dozens of vehicles that were in the parking lot of the shopping center where the shooting unfolded.
The most graphic image shows a small puddle of blood on the ground outside the shopping center amid plastic bags and other trash. Another photo shows a specimen cup that contained a bullet fragment recovered from the shooting scene.
At the time of the shooting, Loughner had two magazines that held up to 31 bullets, two 15-round magazines, a 4-inch knife and other items. Loughner had cleared a federal background check and legally bought the 9 mm Glock 19 semi-automatic pistol at a sporting goods store months before the shooting. Though he was carrying the knife during the attack, Loughner didn't use it to injure anyone.
Other photos show sheriff's deputies talking to people in the parking lot, the interior of the cab that Loughner took to the Safeway supermarket where the attack occurred, the motel room where he stayed the night before the attack and a motel record noting the time he checked in but also saying in a handwritten notation that the motel operators "don't know when he left."
A series of photos shows a sheriff's patrol car that was turned into a makeshift whiteboard. Authorities used markers to record the phone numbers of investigators and the hospitals where victims were being treated. Loughner's name and birth date also were written on the car's trunk.
Police made a note on the car that Loughner had previously been cited for possession of drug paraphernalia, a charge that was dismissed after he completed a diversion program. Someone drew a stick-figure sketch of the scene, including where Loughner and Giffords were located at the time of the attack.
A Post-it note on the patrol car listed the name of Bryce Tierney, a high school friend of Loughner's who hadn't talked to Loughner in months. Loughner had left a message on Tierney's cellphone hours before the shooting, saying, "Hey Bryce, it's Jared. We had some good times together. Peace out."
Mavy Stoddard, who lost her husband Dorwan Stoddard in the massacre and suffered three gunshot wounds herself, said seeing photographs of the gun that killed her husband was hurtful but she understood the public eventually would see them.
"It's upsetting, of course. It's what I know killed my husband," she said.
Americans for Responsible Solutions, a gun control advocacy group founded by Giffords and her husband, declined to comment on the photos.
The images were made public nearly two months after the Pima County Sheriff's Department released roughly 2,700 pages of investigative reports examining the shooting, marking the public's first view into documents that authorities had kept private since the attack.
The records provided more detail about the deteriorating psychological condition of Loughner in the hours leading up to the attack and the first glimpse into Loughner's family.
News organizations seeking police records and photos from the shooting were denied access in the months after the arrest of Loughner, who was sentenced in November to seven consecutive life sentences, plus 140 years, after he pleaded guilty to 19 federal charges.
In late February, U.S. District Judge Larry Burns cleared the way for the release of the photos and records after Star Publishing Co., which publishes the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson, joined by Phoenix Newspapers Inc., which publishes The Arizona Republic, and KPNX-TV, sought their release. The judge said Loughner's right to a fair trial was no longer on the line now that his criminal case has resolved.
Arizona's chief federal judge and a 9-year-old girl were among those killed in the rampage. Thirteen people were injured, including Giffords, who was left partially blind with a paralyzed right arm and brain injury, resigned from Congress last year.
Loughner's guilty plea allowed him to avoid the death penalty. He is serving his sentence at a federal prison medical facility in Springfield, Mo., where he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and forcibly given psychotropic drug treatments to make him fit for trial.
Pam Simon, a former Giffords staffer who survived two gunshot wounds to her chest and wrist, hasn't seen the photos yet but she's not avoiding them either.
For Simon, the release is a reminder of the magnitude of tragedy of gun violence. She said she has recognized the trauma it has created when talking to people who were working at the grocery store and nearby businesses.
"As far as I'm concerned, I don't have any burning desire to see them (the photos) right now, I don't feel any urgency," she said. "I've worked really hard at gathering at the puzzle pieces for myself. I feel like I see that day through the people I've talked to and the pictures I have seen, clearly enough."
Fonseca reported from Flagstaff, Ariz.