Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Jared Loughner and the Shooting of Gabrielle Giffords

Disturbing Behavior

While his behavior was enough to raise a red flag, it wasn't yet enough for him to be kicked off campus.

Jared Lee Loughner
Jared Lee Loughner

On April 6, 2010, campus police were called again: Loughner caused a disturbance while using the library's computers. Listening to music on his headphones, he began making loud noises and singing along in the library. The officers told him he could not do so in a public library, and left, satisfied that he understood and would comply.

On May 17, 2010, Loughner's Pilates instructor became frightened after passing out grades. Though Loughner received a B, according to the report, he became "very hostile" and "threw his work down" and "said the grade was 'unacceptable.'"

The instructor, Patricia Curry, told campus police she felt "intimidated" by him —so much so that she requested officers monitor her next class.

Again, while Loughner's behavior troubled school officials, he stopped just short of causing them to expel him.

On June 2, 2010, campus police were again called to the scene. This time, Loughner had disrupted a math class, challenging the instructor over the use of a number in a way that made no logical sense.

In an email exchange between school officials, Delisa Siddall, a counselor, relayed to staff what happened. "[Loughner] said, 'My instructor said he called a number 6 and I said I call it 18.' He also asked the instructor to explain, 'How can you deny my math instead of accept it?'"

According to Siddall, Loughner construed not being able to call the number 6 something else as an infringement on his freedom of speech, and was the same as telling him he couldn't speak his mind.

She wrote: "I asked him to explain how this was pertinent to the subject at hand? He said these questions caused students to think. I asked him to describe his views on time and place. He said he paid $200 for the class so he should have the right to speak. He added that he has taken other courses and was scammed so he was going to do everything to ensure that he passed this class."

As he did in every situation, after being chided, Loughner appeared contrite and said he would behave.

Siddall closed her letter, writing: "This student was informed that the formal code would go into effect if this should happen again. This student was warned. He has extreme views and frequently meanders from the point. He seems to have difficultly understanding how his actions impact others, yet very attuned to his unique ideology that is not always homogenous. Since his resolution was to remain silent in class and successfully complete the course, I had no grounds to keep him out of class."

At least one student was disturbed enough to email friends and family about her erratic classmate. Lynda Sorensen provided The Washington Post with a series of emails that gave more insight to Loughner's behavior in school. They read:

"June 1: One day down and nineteen to go. We do have one student in the class who was disruptive today, I'm not certain yet if he was on drugs (as one person surmised) or disturbed. He scares me a bit. The teacher tried to throw him out and he refused to go, so I talked to the teacher afterward. Hopefully he will be out of class very soon, and not come back with an automatic weapon.

"June 14: We have a mentally unstable person in the class 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..."

But because he hadn't done anything in direct violation of the code of conduct, yet again, Loughner was free to come back to school.

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