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'So much screaming' - Jan. 8 shooting records released

Shooter received no mental health care; parents took away shotgun

This story from the Tucson Sentinel archive was first published in March 2013.

At first, it sounded like firecrackers. Even to former military men, gunfire on a quiet and clear Saturday morning was too incongruous, too shocking to register at first.

The shots happened too quickly to count. 

Most 911 callers, and witnesses interviewed afterward, reported about 10 shots had been fired. A gunman fired more than 30 from his 9mm Glock handgun.

There was screaming.

"So much screaming," victim Kenneth Veeder told a 911 dispatcher as he stood atop the 9mm Glock that had just been used to shoot 19 people. He, like several others who were shot, was at first unaware that he'd been wounded.

There was blood.

Evidence lists show hundreds of personal items that belonged to victims and witnesses. "Stained w/ blood," the files say, over and over. Blue pants stained with blood. White panties stained with blood. Pink bra with dried blood. Black coat stained with blood. Black shoes stained with blood.

There was blood.

Congressional intern Daniel Hernandez tried to dial 911 as he held the stricken Gabby Giffords upright, but couldn't use his smart phone because the blood-covered screen wouldn't function.

Bystanders rushed to help, carrying paper towels and employees' aprons from Safeway to staunch the flow of blood from the wounded. Butcher's smocks were placed over the bodies of the dead.

The story of the Jan. 8 shooting rampage has been retold time and again in the past two years, but new details emerged Wednesday morning. The Pima County Sheriff's Department released about 2,700 pages of reports and interview transcripts from the investigative file on the 2011 shootings that killed six and wounded 13 others, including former U.S. Rep. Giffords.

PCSD has delayed releasing any photographs related to the investigation, Deputy Thomas Peine said.

The records, released to news organizations for the first time Wednesday, show that the shooter had not been diagnosed with a mental illness, and had not followed a recommendation to seek treatment made by Pima Community College officials.

The shooter's parents had taken away a shotgun after he was expelled from PCC, and didn't know he'd purchased the Glock pistol he used in the shootings, according to interviews in the files.

Gabrielle Giffords, the target of the assassination attempt, called again Wednesday for tightened background checks.

"The details released today regarding the shooting in Tucson reaffirm what this country already knew:  The mentally disturbed young man who shot me and murdered six should never have had access to a gun," she said in a statement released by Americans for Responsible Solutions.

Documents: Deputies on scene within minutes

While no photos were released Wednesday, the thousands of black and white pages of interviews, law enforcement summaries, evidence slips and 911 transcripts paint — in numbing, wrenching detail — an all-too vivid picture of a sunny day gone horribly wrong.

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Video footage from a camera at the Walgreen's next door showed a crowd fleeing the scene just after 10:08 a.m., reports said.

A flood of 911 calls began immediately after the shooting, including one apparently from victim Kenneth Veeder as he stood with his foot on top of the shooter's gun.

While times for the emergency calls were not made available, radio logs show PCSD in route at 10:12:29 a.m. The first deputy arrived on the scene at 10:15:16 a.m.

From the first deputy on the scene: "I immediately went to the suspect and placed my knee in his back and grabbed one of his hands. I then put him into handcuffs. Due to all of the radio traffic, I knew that several people had been shot already, so I immediately put over the radio that the suspect had been detained and emergency medical services should move in and expedite their response."

Shooter Jared Lee Loughner was transported from the scene at 10:45 a.m. by two deputies.

"I just want you to know that I'm the only person that knew about this," the gunman told a deputy searching him at the PCSD District Office on the Northwest Side. "That was the only thing, pretty much, that he said to me almost all day," the deputy wrote. The shooter was taken to Sheriff's Department HQ in a patrol car around 5 p.m.

Shotgun taken away

Amy Loughner, the shooter's mother, interviewed the afternoon of Jan. 8, told deputies that Pima College officials had told her and Randy Loughner to take away any weapons Jared might have.

Randy took away Jared's 12-gauge shotgun, and kept it in the trunk of a car in the garage, along with "an old antique gun I've had for 30 years," he told deputies.

The parents didn't know he'd purchased a 9mm Glock handgun on Nov. 30, 2010.

Three weeks before the shooting, the gunman showed the pistol to friends Anthony Kuck and Derek Heintz.

"I kicked him out of my house, because he showed me his gun. I did not care to see that. I did not want to know," Kuck told investigators.

"I was like, 'Why the hell do you have this?' He's all, 'Protection.'"

"It was black. It had the extended clip. Full of bullets," Kuck said.

"He's been on a downhill slope ever since he had alcohol poisoning in high school," Kuck said, explaining that Loughner had been in legal trouble over graffiti.

Heintz said Loughner had recently shaved his head and eyebrows.

Kuck didn't answer a call Loughner placed to him at 2 a.m. on Jan. 8.

"I honestly wish I would have answered his phone call last night," he said.

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No mental health care after being expelled

Jared never received the mental health evaluation recommended by Pima officials when they expelled him, Amy Loughner said.

"His behavior is not normal," she said, describing Jared "having conversations with himself" and "making all kinds of noises."

Jared told his mother he hadn't had a drink for about five months before the time of the shooting, Amy Loughner said. He'd smoked marijuana and tried cocaine, but his parents had recently given him a home drug test, which came up clean, she told deputies.

"He's always pissed at the pigs, is what he said," Randy Loughner said when discussing his son's mental health problems with deputies the afternoon of the shooting.

"I've told him, I didn't want anything to happen to him. But, I tried to talk to him. But you can't ... he wouldn't communicate with me no more," Randy said. "Lost, lost and just didn't want to communicate with me no more."

"He's just too smart for his own good," Randy said of Jared.

Randy told investigators his son had never been diagnosed with a mental illness, nor gone to a doctor.

Jared "just doesn't seem right lately," Randy said.

Both of Loughner's parents said they were unable to read Jared's journals. "It's like his own script or something," Randy said.

Randy had become concerned enough with his son's behavior to disable Jared's 1969 Chevrolet Nova at night, so that he couldn't drive. The night before the shooting, he didn't do so.

Jared drove off around 6 a.m., returning around 7 a.m. and again at about 8 a.m., Randy told investigators.

Other police files show that Jared attempted to buy 9mm ammunition at a Northwest Side Walmart just after 7 a.m. A clerk refused to sell him the bullets because of his odd behavior. Instead, the clerk lied and told Loughner they were out of stock.

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Twenty minutes later, Loughner bought ammunition at another Walmart. Just six minutes later, he was pulled over by a Game and Fish officer for running a red light, but wasn't given a ticket.

"I said, 'I'm not gonna write you a citation for this.' And when I said that to him, his face got kinda screwed up and, and he started to cry," said Game and Fish Officer Alen Edward Forney, according to the files.

Loughner asked if he could thank Forney, and reached out to shake his hand.

"And I said yeah, you can thank me. He asked me what my name was and then he stuck out his hand, his right hand. I shook his hand, told him who I was," the officer said.

Not long after, Jared went home for the last time. Randy "looked outside of his front window and saw Jared take what appeared to be a black backpack out of the trunk of his Nova."

The parents tried to talk to Jared.

"We were gonna confront him to see what he was doing with the backpack," Amy said. But Jared ran off, and Randy couldn't find him, even though he dropped his morning coffee to chase after him and drove around the Northwest Side neighborhood looking for Jared.

The shooting happened just two hours later.

'Hostile environment'

A former classmate, who worked at the sporting good store where Loughner purchased the Glock, said he was a "weird kid" while they both attended high school, in 2007-2008.

Loughner was kicked out of Mountain View High School, Zachary Osler said, perhaps because of a violent act or drugs.

Loughner would "talk about weird things like how he consciously dreams while he's awake," said Osler.

"I do know he tried to join the Army at one point, And they did mental evaluations on him. And they didn't accept him," Osler said.

Loughner's parents "both drink heavily," he said. "His dad's an alcoholic. And his mom."

"He told me at one point, during his childhood, he thought he had been beat by his parents or abused," Osler said.

"A lot of times I'd be over there (at the Loughner home) his dad would be yellin' about whatever. Kind of a hostile environment. I never really felt comfortable over there," he said.

On Jan. 8, following the confrontation that saw Jared running away from the Loughner home on foot, Amy and Randy spent the morning of the shooting shopping at Walmart, Costco, Sunflower Market and a garage sale.

A phone message Loughner left for a friend the night before the shootings: "Hey. It’s, this is Jared. Um, I had some very good times. And peace out. Later."

The shooting: 'Look of total surprise'

Susie Hileman described the shooting to an investigator several days afterward:

Then we noticed the Congresswoman was there. Pretty woman. Blonde hair. She was tall. And straight. And slender. The sun was shining. I said Christina (-Taylor Green), this could be you someday. Look at this. This is very cool....

We were just, the Congresswoman was kind of, you know how they do that hand holding thing that they do. And hear this noise. This giant loud noise. (SIGH) And Gabby fell. Just gracefully kind of fell down against the wall. And she had this look of total surprise on her face....

Ron Barber, then working as Giffords' district director, saw the shooter walk up with a gun, he told investigators in Jan. 8:

I saw this guy with a gun coming through the opening in the tables. And I heard him shooting. It was a pistol, I believe. He was a thin guy, um, as I recall. And he just started pulling the trigger. And I don't know if I was the first person to get shot or the second, but, um, I went down. I could feel, I could see blood coming out of me....

I just saw him popping them off. I, I think he was holding with both hands, the gun. Uh, looked like he kind of might, you know, know about shooting. And, uh, he was just bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang. And he was just, I could just hear him, as he moved away from us find, you know, shooting at other people....

... As I fell down and I was laying there, the strangest thing. I remember seeing, right next to me, a shell casing. And I thought, damn, I know what’s happened now.

"Is she shot?," Barber asked as he lay on the ground, shot twice himself.

Intern Daniel Hernandez checked the pulse of Gabe Zimmerman. He had none.

He checked Barber, who was "conscious and alert," Hernandez told investigators just hours after the shooting.

"He told me to stay with the Congresswoman. Whatever I did, to make sure that I was staying with the Congresswoman," he said.

"She was conscious. Her eyes were not open," Hernandez said, who described covering Giffords with a butcher's smock and applying pressure to her head wound.

"She was squeezing my hand. Um, I was just holding her up, um, in a sitting position because there was so much blood I didn't want her to asphyxiate...," he said.

Hernandez said he tried to call 911 but couldn't because the screen on his smart phone was covered with blood and he couldn't dial.

Hernandez had noticed Loughner just before the shooting, when he stood at the back of the line and grabbed a clipboard used to keep track of those signing up to speak with Giffords. Hernandez thought he was "a little suspicious" because he was wearing faded black clothing.

"The next thing I hear is someone yell, 'gun,'" he said.

Standing next to Giffords when she was shot was Mark Kimble, a communications aide who is now a spokesman for Barber.

He recalled gunshots, and a man running toward him and Giffords.

"He paused briefly and fired at the congresswoman, the district director, and anyone else who happened to be in the area," Kimble told detectives the day of the shooting.

Kimble ducked out of harm's way, behind a concrete pillar.

Roger Salzgeber was waiting in line to speak to Giffords when the shooting happened. He helped tackle the shooter when he paused to reload. Salzgeber was interviewed by a sheriff's detective and FBI agent while in the parking lot of the Safeway, around 12:30 p.m. on Jan. 8:

... Out of the corner of my eye, I saw this fella come flying out of nowhere...

And all of a sudden, all hell broke loose. At first, I thought that, you know, as some people do with this, that somebody had launched a, a, uh, whole bunch of black cat fireworks or something since fireworks now have become legal. And, um, all of a sudden I saw blood. And this fella raced passed (sic) me. My wife kind of tumbled backwards and pulled a chair over her. And I went after him. And myself and another fellow that you'll want to interview, who has white hair (Bill Badger)... the two of us brought him down and got the gun out of his hand....

I had my knee in the back of his head and his arm wrapped behind his back... I was trying my best not to break it off and beat him to death with it...

... I told him if he moved one iota, I was, I was gonna kill him.

Patricia Maisch was there to talk to her congresswoman. Instead, she wrestled a fresh magazine away from the gunman when he ran out of ammunition. She was interviewed at the scene by detectives:

I was standing in line listening to people in front of me chat about, um, just everyday things.... And there was a slight pop a then pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, about, I don't know, nine or ten times. But I could see the man coming down the line shooting people. I dropped to the ground. I didn't know what else to do.

He shot the woman right in next to me. And then three gentlemen knocked him over. He was right next to me. I was, he was partly on top of me. I had laid down to get out of the line of fire. I didn't know what else to do. So, um, they said get his gun. Well, somebody el-, he was reaching in his pocket to get another clip.

 Apparently, he was out of bullets. He pulled the clip out, so I grabbed the clip. Somebody said get the clip and I was close enough, I grabbed the clip and would not let him have that.

PCSD records show a flood of 911 calls related to the incident, many placed by people in neighboring stores. One of the 911 callers was apparently Kenneth Veeder, who told dispatchers he was standing with his foot on the gun.

Although the caller isn't identified in the transcript, Veeder helped tackle Loughner and took away the gun before deputies arrived. Although he was grazed in the leg with a bullet, he made no reference to the wound in his 911 call:


Veeder: I have my foot on the gun.

911 dispatcher: Okay. But you said they're restraining the guy in front of the store, correct?

V: Yeah. Yeah. We got him.

911: Okay. How many people have been shot?

V: Oh, Christ, I don't know. Quite a few. He come through spraying an automatic weapon.

911: Okay.

V: A pistol. I got my foot on it.

911: Okay. Are you guys inside or outside the store with this guy?

V: We're outside the store.

911 (second dispatcher): Are they inside or outside? 911: They're out, out in front of the store.

V: Huh? Yeah. There is so much screaming going on up here.

911: Yeah. I unders-, I understand. We're getting lot o'...

V: I got my...

911: ... calls ...

V: ... foot on...

911: ... on it...

V: ... the gun.

911: Okay. Don't touch the gun, sir, whatever you do. I mean...

V: Well.

911: If you've got your foot on it fine, but don't touch it with your hands.

V: Well, I did already. Ha. I had to take it away from him. Christ. Okay. I'm gonna hang up.

911: Okay. We should be there shortly.

According to a report by a PCSD detective, Veeder told her that after he picked up the Glock, he demanded that Maisch give him the full magazine that she'd taken from Loughner, so he could shoot the gunman:

He stated that he was looking for the magazine for the gun because he was going to shoot the suspect. He walked over to a female subject, who was in possession of the magazine, and demanded the magazine so that he could shoot the suspect. The woman would not give him the magazine. He stated that after that he just secured the gun until deputies arrived.

The veteran told a detective that wanting to shoot Loughner was a "combat reaction," and that he didn't realize he'd been shot until "after everything calmed down. Then I noticed a little breeze on my leg...."

Joe Zamudio, who was buying a pack of cigarettes at Walgreen's, heard the shots and ran outside.

He struggled briefly with Veeder, pinning him to the wall and telling him to drop the pistol. When he did, and put his foot on the gun, Zamudio helped hold down Loughner until a deputy handcuffed him.

While most accounts say that Zamudio never pulled the pistol that was in his pocket, shooting victim Kenneth Dorushka told investigators on Jan. 8 that he'd seen a man holding a weapon "the size of an Uzi" downward as he pinned another man against the wall after the shooting.

Surveillance video

Photos and video from the scene were not included in Wednesday's release.

The Sheriff's Department obtained copies of video from both Safeway and next-door Walgreens from the time of the shooting. Those copies were turned over to the FBI.

A report by a PCSD detective shows that the front-door video camera of the Walgreens captured footage of people running north, away from the shooting scene, at 10:08:34 a.m. That camera did not capture the shooting.

Three separate videos from Safeway showed Loughner wandering the aisles prior to the shooting, and then him firing at Giffords and others:

I observed ... the same subject coming from what appeared to be around a large cement pillar of the store at which time he rushed forward and began shooting in the area where Congresswoman Giffords had been seen standing in the video. The subject can then be seen continuing to shoot, with his arms extended and both hands on the gun. A male and female can be seen ducking down underneath tables that were in front of them.

A report by another detective shows that Giffords' photographer, Sara Hummel-Rajca, did not take any photographs during or after the shooting.

Shooting victim Mary Reed told her husband and son to take photos of the scene, which were turned over to investigators the afternoon of Jan. 8.

Investigators took over 1,000 photographs of the shooting scene.


A detective who was with the gunman at PCSD headquarters the evening of the shooting said he would "laugh and smile for no apparent reason."

The detective wrote:

During my extended time with Jared Lee Loughner, he was very quiet and did not ask any pertinent questions. He stated on numerous occasions that he was not thirsty or hungry, and did not need any medical attention. ... Jared was neither combative nor uncooperative but rather quiet the entire time. He would be also quiet for a considerable time, but then laugh and smile for no apparent reason. Jared was able to follow our instructions without any hesitation or confusion. On several occasions I had a difficult time communicating with him, as he would not maintain any level of eye contact. I was unable to determine if that was because of his swollen eye. His head would often rotate around and his eyes were often looking around at anything but me. He was able to respond to my questions with simple answers, so I felt he was able to understand my questions and instructions.

On the Tuesday after the shooting, Christina-Taylor Green's parents asked that their daughter's earrings and several images from her iPod Touch be returned before her funeral, scheduled for Thursday. A PCSD detective obtained the jewelry from the FBI, and provided them, along with a disk and several printed photos.

The gunman was sentenced in November to seven consecutive life terms, plus 140 years in prison, without the possibility of parole.

- 30 -
have your say   

2 comments on this story

Mar 27, 2013, 4:35 pm
-1 +3

What I would like to know is this:

Pima College knew he was a problem, and asked him to leave.  Did he break any laws with his classroom actions, or with the video he recorded?

His parents, by their own admissions, knew he had a problem.

WHO, under circumstances like this, can compel a legal adult to seek mental health treatment?  Anyone under current law?

Mental health is a very slippery slope; accusing someone of being nuts and getting them committed has been abused in the past…big time.  It does seem the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction.  I don’t presume to have any answers here, but I’d sure like to hear more from professionals in the system as it is currently.

Mar 27, 2013, 3:56 pm
-0 +0

So, um, any doubt anymore as to whether or not this was premeditated?

Something motivated by mental illness is not premeditated and planned out to this level. I have stated since the day this happened that this so-called mental illness is absolutely and completely irrelevant to the case, and with this little morsel of what’s been released proves I’m right.

I’m not saying Loughner isn’t crazy, I’m saying it doesn’t matter and never did.

I guess, ultimately, the court case ended as it would have anyway. I don’t think you can execute someone who pleads guilty to the crime. But I was incensed, and still am, that his case dragged on far longer than it ever needed to because, again, this tragedy was clearly premeditated and planned out.

I think it is unfortunate that, instead of Loghner’s not-guilty plea standing, him being convicted, and us executing him (the feds don’t drag their feet like the State does, McVeight was executed within five years), that we drugged him into submission and he’ll most likely die of natural causes decades from now. It ain’t right.

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Northwest Fire personnel at the shooting scene, shortly after the most seriously injured victims were taken to the hospital.


Giffords statement

The details released today regarding the shooting in Tucson reaffirm what this country already knew:  The mentally disturbed young man who shot me and murdered six should never have had access to a gun.  No one piece of legislation will end all gun violence, just like no one piece of legislation would have prevented the Tucson shooting. However, I hope that commonsense policies like universal background checks become part of our history, just like the Tucson shootings are - our communities will be safer because of it. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of all who were at the Congress on Your Corner event with me, and all who were affected by the shooting, and give thanks for the bravery of all the first responders who tried to limit the carnage and protect human life that day.

Records release blocked by judge until Loughner sentenced

The Jan. 8 records were sealed by U.S. District Judge Larry Burns, at the request of prosecutors, to ensure that gunman Jared Lee Loughner received a fair trial.

Last month, Burns ruled that it was up to the Sheriff's Department to release the records. If the case had remained at the state level, many of the records would have been made public long before, but federal rules allow authorities to block the release of more information.

"Now that Mr. Loughner has pleaded guilty and been sentenced, the Government’s time line has expired and the Court’s guiding concern has vanished," Burns wrote in lifting the order.

The records had to be organized and reviewed by attorneys, who redacted some information to protect privacy, said PCSD spokesman Deputy Thomas Peine.

Dozens of news organizations requested the records, he said.

PCSD charged $125 to access the approximately 2,700 pages of records in the file.


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