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Federal murder charges filed against Giffords shooting suspect

From the Arizona Republic:

by Laurie Merrill – Jan. 9, 2011 02:07 PM
Arizona Republic

The suspect in shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has been charged with two counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder at Giffords’ “Congress on your Corner” event on Saturday.

The federal charges against Jared Loughner are related to the shootings of five federal employees, including the shooting deaths of beloved U.S. District Judge John Roll and Giffords’ staff member Gabriel Zimmerman, and the injuries to staffers Ron Barber and Pamela Simon.

Heather Williams, the first assistant federal public defender in Arizona, says the 22-year-old suspect doesn’t yet have a lawyer, but that her office is working to get a lawyer appointed for Loughner.

message boards The court documents

More state and federal charges could follow, according to FBI Director Robert Mueller.

Giffords was in critical condition Sunday after a bullet pierced her brain, one of 20 Loughner is accused of wounding or killing during a shooting rampage.

“Additional charges could be brought under domestic terrorism statutes as the investigation continues,” Mueller said.

Loughner faces an initial appearance Monday at U.S. District Court in Phoenix, authorities said. Investigators have ruled out the involvement of a cab driver they say transported Loughner to the event, and whose picture was captured on a Safeway videotape. Authorities sought him as person of interest but ruled him out after they determined he was in the store with Loughner because he was awaiting cash from him, authorities said. Investigators said that Loughner, accused of opening fire with a Glock 9mm gun on a crowd, gathered to hear Giffords and tried to reload the weapon that killed six and injured 14, but it failed to reload.

Federal investigators will probe Loughner’s writings on Myspace and other activity on the Internet.

Furthermore, “we have reason to believe he attended a similar event back in 2007 and the specifics will come out in the course of the legal proceedings,” Mueller said.

Mueller said the access to inciteful speech on the Internet poses law-enforcement challenges.

“The ubiquitous nature of the Internet means not only threats (but also) other inciteful speech is much more available than it was 10-15 years ago,” he said.

Dupnik said he is against allowing practically everyone in Arizona carry a gun.

“The Legislature at this time is proposing that teachers and students be allowed to carried guns and in school and in college,” he said.

Meetings are ongoing about the safety of politicians in Washington, Dupnik said.

One issue, he said, is that local law enforcement is “not even aware of the numerous appearances that take place by elected officials every day.”

Eariler Story:

Shooting suspect had troubled past

by Robert Anglen – Jan. 9, 2011 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

The 22-year-old suspect in the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others north of Tucson on Saturday was described by friends and former classmates as a loner, prone to dressing in black regalia of boots, trench coat and baggy pants even on the hottest days.

Jared Loughner, who dropped out of Tucson’s Mountain View High School in his senior year, was rejected for enlistment in the U.S. Army and got kicked out of Pima Community College last year.

Tyler Ramsier, who attended Mountain View with Loughner in 2005, called him a “hater.”

“He was a goth-type,” Ramsier said. “He was more of an outcast. I just saw him passing in the halls.”

Loughner, who lives with his mother in a modest north Tucson subdivision, had no significant police record and had been cited once on a minor drug charge that was later dismissed, court records show.

But all of that changed last year, when Loughner had multiple run-ins with police at Pima Community College for causing disruptions in classrooms and the library, college officials said. His dispute with college officials led him to post a bizarre YouTube video declaring the college illegal under the U.S. Constitution and culminated in his suspension from campus.

The college said he couldn’t come back until he got a mental-health clearance and proved he wasn’t a danger to himself and others.

Afterward, Loughner continued posting angry rants about the college on YouTube and expanded his wrath to focus on the government. Loughner posted angry messages about government mind control, a new currency and his concern over what he described as illiteracy.

Still, nothing in his background or Web postings suggested he was preparing to execute public officials and bystanders in a hail of bullets outside a Safeway supermarket.

The Washington Post reported that Loughner bought a 9 mm Glock handgun on Nov. 30 at a Sportsman’s Warehouse in Tucson.

On his MySpace page Saturday, a man identifying himself as Jared Loughner said he would soon be adopting a new consciousness.

“Goodbye,” Loughner wrote about 5 a.m. Saturday. “Dear friends . . . Please don’t be mad at me.”

Photos on MySpace show a close-up picture of an automatic handgun sitting atop a book or paper titled “United States History.” The picture is accompanied by several videos posted to Loughner’s YouTube account, including one of a masked man burning a U.S. flag and another with the words, “Don’t trust the current government, listener!”

It is unclear if Loughner is the person burning the flag in the video.

On both the MySpace and YouTube Web pages, Loughner mentions his concern over literacy rates and that few people speak English. He also talks about his distrust of the government and suggests that anyone can call anyone a terrorist.

“I can’t trust the current government because of fabrications,” Loughner wrote in a YouTube slide show. “The government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar.”

Although Loughner rails against the government, he claims on YouTube that at one time he was a recruit with the U.S. Army.

Loughner wrote that while he was at the Military Entrance Processing Station in Phoenix, where military applicants are screened for eligibility, he was given a “mini Bible” before being tested.

“I didn’t write a belief on my Army application and the recruiter wrote on the application: None,” Loughner wrote.

A Pentagon spokesman said Saturday that Loughner was never accepted into the Army.

“He attempted to enlist in the Army but was rejected for service,” the Pentagon said. “In accordance with the Privacy Act, we will not discuss why he was rejected.”

The entrance processing station is responsible for all military recruiting in Arizona and screens applicants for psychological health, drugs and alcohol, and other issues surrounding fitness for service.

Although Loughner makes much about the inability of residents to speak English, there is no direct discussion about immigration.

“The majority of people who reside in District 8 are illiterate – hilarious,” Loughner wrote in another YouTube slide. “I don’t control your English grammar structure.”

The Web pages show that Loughner also was concerned about creating a new national currency. He talks about gold, but there is no clear reference to why a new currency was needed or what he thought its impact might be.

On his Web pages, Loughner says he attended Thornydale Elementary School, Tortolita Middle School, Mountain View High School, Northwest Aztec Middle College and Pima Community College.

Although Loughner said he attended Arizona State University at its main Tempe campus in 2010, an extensive records check by ASU officials Saturday showed that no one named Jared Loughner had ever gone to school there.

“He is not now and never has been a student,” ASU spokesman Virgil Renzulli said.

Pima Community College officials said that beginning in February, Loughner had the first of five contacts with police at the college. In September, officials said Loughner posted a YouTube video declaring Pima Community College illegal under the U.S. Constitution along with other statements about the college.

“College administration issued a letter of immediate suspension,” officials said in a statement. “Two police officers delivered the letter of suspension to the student at his and his parent’s residence and spoke with the student and his parents.”

According to Pima Community College officials, Loughner and his parents met with Northwest Campus administrators Oct. 4.

“During this meeting, Loughner indicated he would withdraw from the college,” officials said. “A follow-up letter was sent to him Oct. 7, 2010, indicating that if he intends to return to the college, he must resolve his code-of-conduct violations and obtain a mental-health clearance indicating, in the opinion of a mental-health professional, his presence at the college does not present a danger to himself or others.”

The scene around Loughner’s ranch house was chaotic Saturday afternoon, with sheriff’s deputies and FBI blocking access to the street and standing guard outside. Officers put up caution tape to prevent anyone from getting near the house.

Grant Wiens, 22, attended Mountain View High School and Pima Community College.

Wiens described Loughner as “kind of an interesting character” who kept to himself. Wiens said he hadn’t conversed with Loughner much, but that he seemed opinionated.

After the shooting, Wiens retrieved his 2006 yearbook and pointed to Loughner’s photo. It showed a boy with long curly hair down to his shoulders and a serene look on his face.

Wiens said he was surprised and saddened Loughner might be implicated in the shooting.

Another neighbor and former schoolmate, Ryan Miller, 19, said he knew the suspect slightly and was “extremely shocked.”

Most neighbors said they really didn’t know him but were surprised by the shooting.

“This is not a bad neighborhood. When something like this happens, it hits too close to home,” said Jim Berger, who lives around the corner from Loughner.

On YouTube, Loughner said his favorite interest was reading. He listed his favorite books as “Animal Farm,” “Brave New World,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Aesop’s Fables,” “The Odyssey,” “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” “Fahrenheit 451,” “Peter Pan” and “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Also listed were “We the Living,” “Phantom Tollbooth,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” and “Mein Kampf,” among others.

Reporters Ken Alltucker, Tatiana Hensley, Sean Holstege, Pat Kossan, Dennis Wagner and Brennan Smith contributed to this article.

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