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Sunday, January 09, 2011

Arizona shooting suspect took poetry classes, described as "left wing, quite liberal" and "political radical"

From:
Arizona Suspect’s Recent Acts Offer Hints of Alienation

(New York Times) -- by ERIC LIPTON, CHARLIE SAVAGE and SCOTT SHANE --

WASHINGTON — Jared Lee Loughner had become increasingly erratic in recent months, so much so that others around him began to worry.

He had posted on his Myspace page at some point a photograph of a United States history textbook, on top of which he had placed a handgun. He prepared a series of Internet videos filled with rambling statements on topics including the gold standard, mind control and SWAT teams. And he had started to act oddly during his classes at Pima Community College, causing unease among other students.

That behavior, along with a disturbing video, prompted school administrators to call in Mr. Loughner’s parents and tell them that their son had been suspended and would have to get a mental health evaluation to return to college. Instead, he dropped out in October, a spokesman for the college said.

The evidence and reports about Mr. Loughner’s unusual conduct suggest an increasing alienation from society, confusion, anger as well as foreboding that his life could soon come to an end. Still, there appear to be no explicit threats of violence that explain why, as police allege, Mr. Loughner, 22, would go to a Safeway supermarket north of Tucson on Saturday morning and begin shooting at a popular Democratic congresswoman and more than a dozen other people, killing 6 and wounding 19.

Police officials on Saturday said that Mr. Loughner had a criminal record of some kind, but they did not provide any details. They also hinted that he might have had the help of a second person, adding that they were searching for another man.

Don Coorough, 58, who sat two desks in front of Mr. Loughner in a poetry class last semester, described him as a “troubled young man” and “emotionally underdeveloped.” After another student read a poem about getting an abortion, Mr. Loughner compared the young woman to a “terrorist for killing the baby.”

“No one in that class would even sit next to him,” Mr. Coorough said. Another fellow student said that he found Mr. Loughner’s behavior so eccentric — including inappropriate remarks and unusual outbursts — that he wondered if he might be on hallucinogens. Mr. Loughner grew up in Tucson and was an unremarkable student at Mountain View High School, classmates said.

Grant Wiens, 22, who graduated in 2006 from Mountain View High School, a year ahead of Mr. Loughner, described him as “a kind of rare bird, very shy.”

“He didn’t seem very popular, but he kind of did his own thing,” Mr. Wiens said.

Mr. Wiens said that something Mr. Loughner said during a discussion about religion had stuck in his mind: “Whatever happens, happens,” Mr. Wiens recalled the suspect saying. “Might as well enjoy life now.”

Another former high school classmate said that Mr. Loughner may have met Representative Giffords, who was shot in the head outside the Safeway supermarket, several years ago.

“As I knew him he was left wing, quite liberal. & oddly obsessed with the 2012 prophecy,” the former classmate, Caitie Parker, wrote in a series of Twitter feeds Saturday. “I haven’t seen him since ’07 though. He became very reclusive.”

“He was a political radical & met Giffords once before in ’07, asked her a question & he told me she was ‘stupid & unintelligent,’ ” she wrote...MORE...LINK

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