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Jared Loughner was no stranger to police

Official records detail the Arizona shooting suspect's odd behavior in a serious of encounters with authorities.

January 12, 2011|By Maeve Reston, Rong-Gong Lin II and Sam Quinones, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Tucson and Los Angeles — Jared Lee Loughner, it is now becoming clear, was no stranger to run-ins with authorities — and even had one a few hours before the shooting rampage he is charged with committing at a Tucson shopping center.

His behavior ranged from "subdued" — as he was described by an officer who stopped him for running a red light early Saturday — to angry and intimidating, as when he yelled at an instructor who gave him a B in Pilates at Pima Community College, according to school records.

On Wednesday, the Arizona Game and Fish Department said one of its officers had let Loughner go with a warning after the traffic stop. And Pima Community College officials released 51 pages of Loughner's files, including his redacted transcript, and documents with granular details about his increasingly bizarre interactions with students, teachers and school officials.

Instructors and campus police were keeping an eye on Loughner as early as February, according to a campus police report, after he had an outburst in his advanced poetry writing class. The teacher reported that his classroom comments were a "huge leap from the context" of a poem that they had been discussing and that he said "things about abortion, wars, killing people" and at one point uttered, "Why don't we just strap bombs to babies."

Division Dean Patricia Houston described Loughner as "creepy" and having a "dark personality," the report said, and told campus police that another student had informed them that Loughner may have been carrying a knife. Campus police checked Loughner's background for warrants or other criminal history, finding that he had "some prior drug involvement" but "no warrants or anything of immediate concern." Campus police concluded at that time that additional contact with Loughner was not necessary, records show.

Two months later, in April, school officials responded to the Northwest Campus library to check on Loughner's "welfare." The college's library director said Loughner had been making loud noises while working on the school computers. When the officer asked Loughner about his behavior, he said he'd been listening to music and that it wouldn't happen again.

Loughner's final days at the college were marked by an incident on Sept. 23, when a biology instructor called college police at 7:31 a.m. According to an incident report, the instructor told police that Loughner disrupted the class "when she told him that he would only receive half credit on an assignment because it was late."

Loughner's protests grew louder, one officer wrote in his report, and Loughner said his freedom of speech was being taken away, though he had trouble verbalizing his distress.

Another officer said Loughner's head "tilted to the left with a confused look in the countenance of his face. His eyes focused down at his homework and he showed a sustained bobbing of the eyes while looking to his upper left side during questioning."

In a low, mumbling voice, Loughner, who appeared bewildered that police were involved, said that under the Constitution, he had the right to his "'freedom of thought,' and whatever he thought in his head he could also put on paper. By placing his thoughts within his homework assignment, his teacher 'must be required to accept it' as a passing grade," according to campus police records.

On Sept. 29, campus police found a YouTube video in which Loughner proclaimed the college "a genocide school."

The title of the video, which has since been deleted, is "Pima Community College School-Genocide/Scam-Free Education-Broken United States Constitution." It was uploaded on Sept. 23 under the username "2PLOY," the same day officers interviewed Loughner after he disrupted his biology class, according to police records.

The video showed the college campus, and the narrator said:

"We are examining the torture of students … This is my genocide school. Where I'm going to be homeless because of this school … I haven't forgotten the teacher that gave me a B for freedom of speech … Thank you…. This is Jared … From Pima College."

According to the campus police report, one of the officers who watched the video "positively recognized the voice and the reflection in the window" as Loughner's. That officer was one of two who had escorted Loughner from his biology classroom on Sept. 23.

Hours after they discovered the video, two campus officers pulled up to the Loughner home, with two others nearby as backup. Randy Loughner, Jared's father, invited the officers into the garage, where they spoke with the two men and informed them of Jared's suspension. Jared, wrote the officer, "held a constant trance of staring as I narrated the past events." Jared broke his silence, the officer wrote, and said: "I realize now that this is all a scam."

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