Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Jared Loughner and the Shooting of Gabrielle Giffords

The Final Straw

A few months later, on Sept. 23, campus police were called again. It was Loughner, again, ranting about how his "freedom of speech" was being threatened because he was getting a lesser grade because he turned the assignment in late. A belligerent Loughner "continued to cause the start of the class to be delayed."

One of the responding officers wrote that "Loughner could not verbalize what the problem was and kept referring back to the freedom of speech. I noticed during my questioning that Loughner's head was constantly tilted to the left and his eyes were jittery and looking up and to the left."

Though Loughner repeated that he wanted to stay in school, officials decided that he would not return to class that day, and they would have a follow up meeting a few days later to discuss his future at the school.

On Sept. 27, the instructor and Jared met with Dr. Aubrey Conover about the most recent incident. The meeting revealed some of Loughner's odd thinking. In Conover's report, she wrote: "He then stated that he had paid for his courses illegally. When question as to why he said, 'I did not pay with gold and silver.'" The meeting ended with the agreement that Loughner would bring his parents to the next discussion, the next night.

But another, final, incident got him booted.

Unbeknownst to officers, the same day that he had had his latest meltdown in class, Loughner had posted a video on YouTube, titled, "Pima Community College School—Genocide/Scam-Free Education-Broken United States Constitution." The video has since been removed.

The video showed images of the campus while Loughner narrated a series of statements, each more incoherent than the last.

"We are examining the torture of students."

"The war that we are in right now is currently illegal under the constitution."

"This is my genocide school where I'm going to be homeless because of this school."

"I haven't forgotten the teacher that gave me a B for freedom of speech."

"This is Pima Community College, one of the biggest scams in America."

"This is genocide in America."

The video was the final straw for the officers and school administrators. The officer who viewed it confirmed it was Loughner, called Dr. Conover and notified the school. The officer submitted a request for a subpoena from the Pima Country Grand Jury for YouTube records.

That night, campus police officers were dispatched to his home, where they met with Jared's father in the garage to serve his Immediate Suspension letter. Mattocks wrote that Loughner sustained a "constant trance of staring." At the end of the meeting, Loughner said, "I realize now that this is all a scam."

By this point, it was clear to everyone that Loughner had strange beliefs. And a brief Internet search would show that the Pima County YouTube video was just one of many bizarre online fingerprints left by Jared Loughner in the months leading up to the shooting.

People now knew that Loughner wasn't right-wing or left, or moderate or extreme. He existed in a different solar system entirely.

As Megan McArdle wrote in The Atlantic: "The guy was so disjointed that people on the UFO conspiracy theory message boards were saying, "Dude, this sounds craaaazy. You need to get help for your delusions"."

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