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Jared Lee Loughner's parents alone with their anguish, neighbor says

'They're both in there crying,' says the neighbor who took them Monday's mail. He describes the couple as very private and devoted to their son.

January 10, 2011|By Sam Quinones, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Tucson — The parents of Jared Lee Loughner, accused of shooting Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 19 other people, were huddled in seclusion in their Tucson home Monday night, his father crying and his mother so shaken she could not get out of bed, a neighbor told The Times.

As the sun was beginning to set Monday, Randy Loughner called his neighbor, retired gasoline truck driver Wayne Smith, 70, to ask him to get their mail. Smith, who is not particularly close to the Loughners, grabbed the mail and was invited inside.

"They're in there now," Smith said in a subsequent interview with The Times. "They're both in there crying. He's crying and hanging on to me and she's not even out of bed."

Smith described the Loughners as very private and said they knew few people on their street, although they had lived in the neighborhood since before Jared, 22, was born. He said Jared was their only child. Smith said Loughner's mother, Amy, had a good job with good retirement and pay, and Randy was a stay-at-home dad who liked to work on cars.

"He worshipped the boy," Smith said.

Smith said that on Saturday morning just after 11, their quiet neighborhood suddenly filled with sheriff's patrol cars and FBI agents who cordoned off the Loughners' home. Smith said he saw the Loughners come home, with brown plastic grocery bags and bottles of water in the back of their old white pickup truck. The couple parked across the street from their house.

Then Smith saw a TV news report identifying Jared Lee Loughner as the suspect.

"I didn't even know their last name until Saturday," Smith said. But he knew their son's name was Jared.

He approached the Loughners. "I said, 'Guys, I hate to be the one to tell you, but he shot a bunch of people,'" Smith said. Amy Loughner, he said, "just come unglued."

All three wept together outside on Saturday. "We stood right out there and cried for an hour. I'm a softie," Smith said. "A man needs compassion. He's broken up about his son, but also about all those people who died."

Smith said the family is intensely private. "The best way I can describe it, they're like a mountain man," he said. "They want to be alone."

sam.quinones@latimes.com

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