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In 2007, he was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia. As a student at Pima college, Loughner posted a video online that school administrators considered so disturbing they suspended him from school. According to the NY Times, school officials met with Loughner and his parents and told them he would need “mental health clearance” in order to return to classes. Former classmates said he was prone to outbursts during those classes. One student, Linda Sorensen, told the Arizona Daily Star that Loughner was “obviously very disturbed” and described his outbursts as “nonsensical.” Loughner’s MySpace page has been removed from the site by investigators, but prior to that removal, Loughner had posted a message at 5AM on Saturday: “Goodbye…Dear friends … Please don’t be mad at me.”
According to Fox News, the Department of Homeland Security has released information to state officials suggesting Loughner may have been influenced by American Renaissance, a group he made reference to in some internet postings. According to DHS, “The group’s ideology is anti government, anti immigration, anti ZOG (Zionist Occupational Government), anti Semitic,” and promoted a “variety of white racial positions.” At this writing, Loughner has refused to cooperate with investigators.
The dead have now been identified: U.S. District Judge John Roll, 63; Christina Greene, 9; Giffords aide Zimmerman, 30; Dorothy Morris, 76; Dorwin Stoddard, 76; and Phyllis Scheck, 79. The names of the wounded have been withheld pending notification of relatives. While there is no evidence of a broader threat, members of Congress have been advised to take “reasonable and prudent precautions regarding their personal safety and security” by U.S. Capitol police. The House Sergeant at Arms also said “it is essential” that lawmakers register their home and office addresses with local police.
Authorities have refused to provide details regarding the aforementioned second suspect, but indicate he was in “close proximity” to the store where the shooting took place. The carnage might have been worse were it not for the bravery of two people who tackled the alleged shooter, armed with a 9mm Glock outfitted with a 30-round magazine, according to police.
These are the facts of the case as they are currently known. All of the misinformation disseminated by the media, which initially reported that Ms. Giffords had been killed–based largely on what people were Twittering from the scene–as well as all of the political vitriol that inevitably attends such an incident, is disturbing. With regard to the media, it seems more and more that “getting it first” has become more important than “getting it right.” Perhaps that is the greatest casualty of 24/7 news cycle in which ratings are the primary consideration.
As for the ocean of political vitriol, it seems America has reached a point where virtually everything must be filtered through an ideological lens in which common sense and common decency are in critically short supply. Anyone who can attribute a particular motive to the alleged shooter at this point in time is speculating at best, and embracing the lowest kind of partisan political manipulation at worst. Six people are dead, and a Congresswoman hailed as a wonderful person by all of her fellow legislators–on both sides of the aisle–is fighting for her life.
Here’s hoping for her full recovery.