While his motive remains unclear, new details have begun to emerge about the life of Jared Lee Loughner, the suspect currently being held for the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others on Saturday.
So far, much of the media speculation has focused on Loughner’s MySpace and YouTube pages. He left a message on his MySpace page prior to the shooting, writing “Goodbye [...] Dear friends … Please don’t be mad at me.” The page has now been “frozen” by MySpace as investigators look over the information, while his YouTube page remains active. The Daily Caller reported that he listed The Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf as two of his favorite books on YouTube. On Sunday morning, Fox News reported that the Department of Homeland Security is looking into possible links between Loughner and an anti-Semitic hate group.
The YouTube page features several rambling, incoherent messages from Loughner set to music. In the videos, he talks about subjects like mind control, religion, and inventing his own currency. Also featured is a video of a man burning an American flag in the desert.
He had several run-ins with law enforcement in the years prior to the shooting, although the specifics of each incident remain unknown. In 2008, Loughner attempted to join the Army, but was rejected by recruiters.
Grant Wiens, a high school classmate of Loughner, told The Washington Post that he was “very shy” and “didn’t seem very popular.” According to Wiens, Loughner also smoked pot and “wasn’t too keen on religion.”
“As I knew him he was left wing, quite liberal. & oddly obsessed with the 2012 prophecy,” another former classmate, Caitie Parker, wrote on Twitter. “I haven’t seen him since ’07 though. He became very reclusive.”
“I know that he caused a lot of trouble in his classes other than band,” Gabriella Carillo, 22, told The Guardian. “If he tried, he would probably be at the top of our class. But he kind of just wasted his life.”
After high school, Loughner attended Pima Community College in Arizona. School officials asked him to leave the school after a “disturbing” video post on the internet, and said he could only return after he had been seen by a mental health professional. One of his college classmates described to The Guardian as an “obviously very disturbed” student who “disrupted class frequently with nonsensical outbursts.”
“I always felt, you know, somewhat paranoid,” Ben McGahee, who taught Loughner elementary algebra at Pima Community College last summer, said to The Washington Post. “When I turned my back to write on the board, I would always turn back quickly–to see if he had a gun.”
“He has kind of a troubled past, I can tell you that,” said Pima County Sherriff Clarence Dupnik.