TUCSON — A wildlife officer pulled over the suspect in the
assassination attempt against an Arizona congresswoman less than
three hours before the deadly attack, authorities said Wednesday as
they pieced together more details of a frenzied morning.
Jared Loughner ran a red light but was let off with a warning at
7:30 a.m. Saturday, the Arizona Game and Fish Department said. The
officer took Loughner's driver's license and vehicle registration
information but found no outstanding warrants on Loughner or his
Wildlife officers don't usually make traffic stops unless public
safety is at risk, such as running a red light. The stop was on an
access road that connects to Interstate 10, well away from the
grocery store, said Game and Parks spokesman Jim Paxon.
"He had a valid license, the car was registered, he had
insurance," Paxon said. "He was warned and released because we had
no probable cause to hold, or do an extensive search."
It's the latest evidence of Loughner's busy morning before
police say he showed up at a Tucson grocery store in a taxi at
10:11 a.m. and shot 19 people, killing six, including a federal
judge and a 9-year-old girl.
Also that morning, Loughner, 22, ran into the desert from his
angry father, who was chasing his son after seeing him remove a
black bag from the trunk of a family car, said Rick Kastigar, chief
of the department's investigations bureau. Investigators are still
searching for the bag.
Hours after the attack, sheriff's deputies swarmed the
Loughners' home and removed what they describe as evidence Loughner
was targeting Giffords. Among the handwritten notes was one with
the words "Die, bitch," which authorities believe was a reference
Investigators with the Pima County Sheriff's Department
previously said they found handwritten notes in Loughner's safe
reading "I planned ahead," ''My assassination" and "Giffords."
Capt. Chris Nanos said all the writings were either in an envelope
or on a form letter Giffords' office sent him in 2007 after he
signed in at one of her "Congress on Your Corner" events — the same
kind of gathering where the massacre occurred.
Meanwhile, the city held a tribute to victims the eve of a
On Tuesday night, several hundred mourners filled a Tucson
church for a public Mass to remember the slain and pray for the
injured. As people filed in, nine young girls sang "Amazing Grace."
The youngest victim of the attack, 9-year-old Christina Taylor
Green, was a member of that choir.
"I know she is singing with us tonight," said Tucson Bishop
Gerald Kicanas, who presided over the service.
President Barack Obama visits Arizona Wednesday and will honor
the victims in a speech to a rattled state and nation.
In one apparent reaction to the shooting, the FBI said
background checks for handgun sales jumped in Arizona following the
shootings, though the agency cautioned that the number of checks
doesn't equate to the number of handguns sold.
Still, there were 263 background checks in Arizona on Monday, up
from 164 for the same day a year ago — a 60 percent rise.
Nationally, the increase was more modest: from 7,522 last year to
7,906 Monday, a 5 percent jump.
Loughner's parents, silent and holed up in their home since
attack, issued a statement Tuesday, expressing remorse over the
"There are no words that can possibly express how we feel,"
Randy and Amy Loughner wrote in a statement handed to reporters
waiting outside their house. "We wish that there were, so we could
make you feel better. We don't understand why this happened.
"We care very deeply about the victims and their families. We
are so very sorry for their loss."
Giffords is breathing on her own and responding non-verbally to
doctors after being shot in the head.
"We have really decreased the amount of sedation we are giving
her and as a result of that, she's becoming more and more
spontaneous all the time," said Dr. Peter Rhee, trauma chief at the
University of Arizona.
Sheriff's deputies had been to the Loughner home at least once
before the attack, spokesman Jason Ogan said. He didn't know why or
when the visit occurred, and said department lawyers were reviewing
the paperwork and expected to release it Wednesday.
The visits were for nonviolent incidents, including a report by
Jared Loughner of identity theft, a noise complaint and Amy
Loughner's claim that someone had stolen her license plate sticker,
according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.
In addition to the new details about the hours before the
shooting, interviews with those who knew Loughner or his family
painted a picture of a young loner who tried to fit in.
Before everything fell apart, he went through the motions as
many young men do nowadays: Living at home with his parents,
working low-wage jobs at big brand stores and volunteering time
doing things he liked.
None of it worked. His relationship with his parents was
strained. He clashed with co-workers and police. And he couldn't
follow the rules at an animal shelter where he spent some time.
Loughner was arrested in October 2008 on a vandalism charge near
Tucson after admitting he scrawled the letters "C'' and "X'' on a
road sign in a reference to what he said was Christianity. His
address listed on the police report was an apartment near his
Loughner eventually moved back in with his parents.
Even when Loughner tried to do good, it didn't work out.
A year ago, he volunteered walking dogs at the county animal
shelter, said Kim Janes, manager of the Pima Animal Care Center. He
liked dogs; neighbors remember him as the kid they would see
walking his own.
But at the shelter, staff became concerned: He was allowing dogs
to play in an area that was being disinfected after one had
contracted a potentially deadly disease, the parvovirus. Loughner
wouldn't agree to keep dogs from the restricted area, and was asked
to come back when he would. He never returned.
Loughner grew up on an unremarkable Tucson block of low-slung
homes with palm trees and cactus gardens out front. Fittingly, it's
called Soledad Avenue — Spanish for solitude.
Solitude found Loughner, even when he tried to escape it. He had
buddies but always fell out of touch, typically severing the
friendship with a text message.
Zach Osler was one such friend.
Loughner's father moved into the house as a bachelor, and
eventually got married, longtime next-door neighbor George Gayan
said. Property records show Randy Loughner has lived there since
1977. Unlike other homes on the block, the Loughners' is obscured
by plants. It was assessed in 2010 at $137,842.
Randy Loughner apparently has not worked for years — at least
outside his home.
Amy Loughner got a job with the county parks and recreation
department just before Jared was born, and since at least 2002 has
been the supervisor for Roy P. Drachman Agua Caliente Park on the
outskirts of the city. She earns $25.70 an hour, according to Gwyn
Hatcher, Pima County's human resources director.
Linda McKinley, 62, has lived down the street from the Loughner
family for decades and said the parents could not be nicer — but
that she had misgivings about Jared as he got older.
"As a parent, my heart aches for them," she said.
Associated Press writers Alicia Chang and Gillian Flaccus in
Tucson, Jacques Billeaud and Bob Christie in Phoenix, Christy
Lemire in Los Angeles and news researcher Julie Reed in Charlotte,
N.C., contributed to this report.