Jared Loughner in a courtroom sketch on Sept. 28.
Before the shooting:
May 12, 2006: Loughner, a junior in high school, comes to school drunk. He apparently drank 350 milliliters of vodka between 1:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. At the end of the year, he drops out. A psychologist who reviewed Loughner’s journals later says she believes this is the year Loughner began showing signs of depression and symptoms of schizophrenia.
Aug. 30, 2007: A letter is sent to Loughner from the office of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, thanking him for attending a Congress on your Corner event in Tucson. Loughner would later store this letter in a safe, along with an an envelope that reads “I planned ahead,” “My assassination,” “Giffords” and his signature.
December 2008: Loughner is rejected by the U.S. Army. The military was apparently turned off by Loughner’s drug use, which he admitted to in his application.
February 2010: In Loughner’s first recorded outburst at Pima Community College, he makes strange comments about a classmate’s poem about abortion, including “Why don’t just you strap bombs to babies?” Campus police had also received complaints that Loughner was carrying a knife with him.
April 6, 2010: Police are called when Loughner begins shouting and singing along to music playing in his headphones in the school library.
May 17, 2010: Loughner’s pilates teacher requests that campus police monitor her class after Loughner throws a tantrum over his B grade.
June 14, 2010: In an email to friends, a 52-year-old student in Loughner’s math class describes him as a “mentally unstable person… that scares the living crap out of me. He is one of those whose picture you see on the news, after he has come into class with an automatic weapon. Everyone interviewed would say, Yeah, he was in my math class and he was really weird. I sit by the door with my purse handy. If you see it on the news one night, know that I got out fast…”
Sept. 23, 2010: Loughner throws another tantrum over a grade, ranting to his teacher and class about freedom of speech. Campus police are called, and Loughner is asked to leave campus. That same day, Loughner uploads a video to YouTube, titled “Pima Community College School — Genocide/Scam-Free Education-Broken United States Constitution.” Over campus photos, Loughner trashes the school: “This is my genocide school where I’m going to be homeless because of this school,” he says. The video is discovered by school officials on Sept. 29, and Loughner is served a suspension letter.
Oct. 4, 2010: Loughner and his parents meet with school officials and he officially withdraws. Three days later, he receives a letter from the school. If he ever wants to come back, the letter says, he’ll need clearance from a mental health official.
Nov. 30, 2010: Loughner buys a 9mm Glock pistol from a Sportsman’s Warehouse.
Dec. 30, 2010: Loughner posts a message on his MySpace — one of many incoherent ramblings: “Dear Reader … I’m searching. Today! With every concern, my shot is now ready for aim. The hunt, a mighty thought of mine.”
January 7, 2011: Loughner drops off a roll of film at a local Walgreens. The photos show him pointing the gun at his buttcheeks. He’s wearing a red thong.
Jan. 8, 2011: Loughner shoots 19 people outside a Safeway. Six die, their ages ranging 9 to 79. His chief target is U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who is shot in the head but survives with a traumatic brain injury. Loughner is tackled and arrested at the scene.
The parking lot of the Safeway where the shooting occured.
After the shooting:
January 24, 2011: Loughner enters a plea of not guilty. His lawyer is Judy Clarke, the same woman who defended Ted Kaczynski.
March 10, 2011: A judge orders a psychological evaluation of Loughner, to determine whether he’s competent to stand trial. At the hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Wallace Kleindienst says Loughner doesn’t trust the legal system and believes the CIA and FBI are observing him.
March 24, 2011: Loughner’s lawyers’ requests to keep him in Tucson are denied. A judge orders Loughner to a mental-heath facility in Springfield, Missouri, where psychologists, including Dr. Christina Pietz, will try to make him fit to stand trial.
May 25, 2011: A judge rules that Loughner is mentally incompetent after hearing testimony from Pietz. She diagnoses Loughner with schizophrenia, explaining that he suffers from delusions and random thoughts. Before the ruling, Loughner is removed from the court after lowering his head to the courtroom table and yelling at the judge. Reports vary as to what he said, but it was something along the lines of: “Thank you for the freak show,” “She died in front of me” and “You’re treasonous.”
June 26, 2011: A judge rules that Loughner can be forcibly medicated with antipsychotics.
July-August 2011: In prison, Loughner is placed under suicide watch. Reports emerge that he’s depressed. He paces in his cell so much his legs swell. He thinks the radio is inserting thoughts into his brain. He screams, cries and remains convinced that he killed Giffords — he’s angry when told she survived. He sobs when he’s told he might face the death penalty. He hides under the covers in his bed. He throws chairs and spits and his lawyers. He spends 50 hours awake at a time. His lawyers say he suffers from echolalia, a disease that makes him repeat words and phrases back to whomever he’s speaking to.
September 2011: Loughner sits still and expressionless at a seven-hour hearing. It’s viewed as an improvement.
March 5, 2012: A federal appeals court rejects Loughner’s lawyers’ request to end the forced medication and move him back to Tucson.
August 7, 2012: U.S. District Judge Larry Burns deems Loughner fit for trial, largely due to testimony from Pietz and Loughner’s calm courtroom demeanor. “He is a different person in his appearance and his effect than when I first laid eyes on him,” the judge says. In return for taking the death penalty off the table, Loughner enters a guilty plea. He acknowledges all 19 of his charges, including injuring — but not killing — Giffords. Pietz says Loughner has expressed remorse to her, especially over the death of the 9-year-old girl. He knows he’s never going to be released from prison. One major sign of his improvement, Pietz says, is his desire to have a job. Overall, Loughner coherently understands what’s happening the courtroom, Pietz says. He’s no longer paranoid, and he doesn’t show signs of hearing voices.
A courtroom sketch from the Aug. 7 ruling.
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