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Dad told cops Giffords’ shooter ‘doesn’t seem right lately’

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On the day of the shooting, friend Bryce Tierney told investigators that Loughner had called him early in the morning and left a cryptic voicemail that he believed was suicidal. "He just said, ‘Hey, this is Jared. Um, we had some good times together. Uh, see you later.’ And that’s it." Tierney tried to call back, but it was a restricted number that didn’t register on his phone.

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A wildlife agent pulled Loughner over that morning for a traffic violation. He cried and said, "I’ve just had a rough time," and then composed himself, thanked the agent and shook his hand after he was let go with a warning. The agent asked Loughner again if he was OK, and Loughner said he was going home.


Loughner went to a convenience store immediately before the shooting and had the clerk call a cab for him. As he waited, he paced inside and outside the store and went to the bathroom three or four times. The employee said that at one point Loughner looked up at a clock and said, "Nine twenty-five, I still got time."


Giffords intern Daniel Hernandez, who helped people sign in as they lined up to see Giffords, recalled handing Loughner a clipboard. "The next thing I hear is someone yell, ‘gun!’"


Doris Tucker was talking to Giffords when she was shot. All she recalls of Loughner was a dark, slim shape. "I remember screaming and ... hearing the terrible noise, and seeing the cartridges fly," said Tucker, whose husband was wounded. "I was talking, the next thing I knew, she was down. ... I saw her fall." Witness Lane Beck was pulling up in her car, with Giffords and the line of constituents in full view. Loughner was "kind of hopping up and down as he was shooting," she said. "His face was very animated."

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Patricia Maisch said Loughner walked up the line of people waiting to talk to Giffords and shot people at random, including the woman next to her. Then, three men tackled him. In the ensuing struggle, Loughner tried to reload. "He was partly on top of me. I had laid down to get out of the line of fire, I didn’t know what else to do. ... Apparently he was out of bullets. He pulled the clip out, so I grabbed the clip and would not let him have that." Maisch then kneeled on Loughner’s ankles while others held him down, until she noticed that one of the men was bleeding from his head. She went into the Safeway supermarket to get paper towels to stanch the flow of blood.


Hernandez helped tend to his boss after she was shot in the head. "She couldn’t open her eyes. I tried to get any responses for her. Um, it looked like her left side was the only side that was still mobile. Um, she couldn’t speak. It was mumbled. She was squeezing my hand," Hernandez said. "Her breathing was getting shallower. Uh, I then lifted her up so that she wasn’t flat on the ground against the wall."


Loughner had two Glock magazines in his left front pocket, both fully loaded. In his other front pocket was a foldable knife with about a 4-inch blade. In his back right pocket, he had a baggie with some money, a credit card and his Arizona driver’s license. He had peach-colored plugs in his ears and was wearing a black beanie, a black hoodie-type sweatshirt, khaki pants and Skechers shoes.


At Loughner’s house, police found two shotguns in the trunk of a car parked in the garage, where they also found photographs of President Bill Clinton and other Pima County officials, including U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva eating at a Mexican restaurant. A search of a safe in Loughner’s room turned up a gunlock, an envelope with his Glock’s serial number on it and two spent bullet casings. The envelope said he planned to go ahead with an assassination. Items seized included a copy of the Anarchist Cookbook, photo negatives and writings.


Loughner was polite and cooperative with authorities the afternoon of the shooting. The conversation as Loughner sat in restraints in an interview room was mainly small talk. Little was said over the four hours. Loughner asked at one point if he could please use the restroom and said "Thank you" when allowed. At another point he complained of being sore: "I’m about ready to fall over." When a detective told Loughner he was going to change his restraints, Loughner responded, "Okay. I’m not going to move."


Tierney told investigators he wasn’t surprised Loughner shot Giffords. "I don’t think he liked Gabrielle Giffords," he said, recalling that when she visited the college they attended, Loughner asked her "‘What is government?’ and stuff." ... She couldn’t give him the answer. ... I feel like he had ... something against Gabrielle Giffords."

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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