Suspect was focused, busy that morning, police say

January 15, 2011

TUCSON - Far from the undisciplined, semi-delusional dropout described by friends, Jared Lee Loughner appeared to be a young man with laser focus when it came to planning and carrying out a shooting rampage outside a strip-mall Safeway last week, local law enforcement authorities alleged Friday.

They released new information showing that, starting shortly before midnight the night before the shooting, Loughner, 22, zigzagged across this southwestern city for hours checking off a final to-do list: He booked a room at a Motel 6, bought ammunition at a Super Wal-Mart, and purchased more items at Circle K and Chevron stores.

And he found time to post a final message on MySpace: "Goodbye friends," it stated, and he uploaded a photo.

Loughner's final movements, disclosed by the Pima County Sheriff's Office in a detailed timeline, appear to show a busy morning. And the night before, he had dropped off a roll of film at a Walgreens store that perhaps was to be a final insult to the victims of the devastation.

Although the sheriff's office declined to say what the photos showed, other law enforcement sources said they included pictures of Loughner wearing a red G-string and holding a gun near his buttocks. The FBI, which has custody of the pictures and a supermarket surveillance video that captured the shooting, declined to comment.

In all, six people were killed and 13 wounded, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who had been speaking with constituents when Loughner allegedly opened fire with a Glock 19 semiautomatic about 10:10 a.m. Saturday.

As law enforcement officials released the new information about Loughner's movements, a funeral was held Friday for one of the victims, federal District Court Judge John M. Roll.

Meanwhile, doctors announced that all survivors of the shooting were showing signs of improvement. Nine of the 13 wounded have been released from the hospital, and three remain there in good condition, said Peter Rhee, medical director at University Medical Center in Tucson.

Giffords is in critical condition, but she has begun to open her eyes more frequently and respond to commands, said the medical center's chief neurosurgeon, G. Michael Lemole Jr.

Giffords is "beginning to carry out more complex sequences of events, more complex sequences of activity, in response to our commands or even spontaneously," Lemole said.

Over the past week, local and federal law enforcement officials have been piecing together what happened in the days and moments before the shooting. They had previously known that Loughner bought a Glock 19 handgun and a box of ammunition Nov. 30, but the discovery Thursday of a black diaper bag carrying receipts and papers has provided significantly more information.

According to the timeline authorities compiled, Loughner took the following actions:

After dropping off a roll of film at Walgreens on Friday, Jan. 7, he made a purchase at a Circle K store at 12:24 a.m. the next morning, then checked into a Motel 6 about five minutes later.

Fewer than two hours after he checked in, Loughner returned to Walgreens to pick up the developed film. He posted his final MySpace entry at 4:21 a.m. and made purchases at several stores, including buying more ammunition and a black, backpack-style diaper bag at a Super Wal-Mart.

He was stopped by an officer with the Arizona Game and Fish Department at 7:30 a.m. for running a red light.

Then, sometime over the next two hours, Loughner drove home, where he was confronted by his father, Randy. According to earlier accounts, his father, seeing him take the black bag out of the car, exchanged words with him, and Jared Loughner fled on foot.

At 9:41 a.m., Loughner got into a taxi at a Circle K store and was driven to the Safeway where Giffords was holding a meeting with constituents.

When Loughner and the driver arrived, they went into the Safeway together to get change for the $20 bill he was using to pay the fare. They entered the store at 9:54, according to the timeline.

The events that followed are captured on a security video from the store, according to law enforcement authorities who have seen the footage.

They said the video shows Loughner coming out of the store, then circling around outside pillars to the area where Giffords was holding her event. The camera then captured Loughner rushing forward, with his handgun to his side at first, and moving toward the table where Giffords was standing.

"While the video of the shooting was not perfect, it was pretty close," one source said.

Another law enforcement source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record, said the footage shows the shooting "in grisly detail. . . . This is not a video you want to see."

This source said the video appeared to "clearly" show a man resembling Loughner shooting. "There's no question," the source said. The FBI will not release the footage publicly because it probably will be used as evidence in a trial of Loughner, who is being held in federal custody without bail.

At 10:11 a.m., one minute after the shooting began, 911 operators received the first of nearly 20 calls placed by bystanders. Meanwhile, several onlookers tackled the gunman when he paused to reload.

"I do believe Gabby Giffords was hit," one caller told the emergency operator. "A guy had a semiautomatic pistol. He went in and just started firing and he ran."

On new audio recordings released Friday, a female emergency dispatcher is heard radioing the report to officers: "We have a caller who believes that Gabrielle Giffords was shot. That's, uh, multiple victims. . . . Customers have tackled the suspect. They are holding him down."

According to the police timeline, an ambulance was dispatched at 10:14 a.m. At 10:15, Sheriff's Deputy Thomas Audetat arrived at the scene. Another officer, Georgina Patino, arrived a minute later.

Audetat "immediately took custody of the suspect, Jared Loughner, and placed him in handcuffs," the sheriff's office said in a statement Friday. "While securing Loughner, the following items were removed from Loughner's pockets: two 15-round magazines, a four-inch buck knife, a plastic bag containing currency, a Visa card and Loughner's Arizona driver's license. During this time, Deputy Georgina Patino located Loughner's weapon on the ground and secured it," the sheriff's office reported.

Loughner was found with a Glock 19 handgun, two magazines with 31 bullets apiece and two more magazines with 15 bullets each, authorities said.

By 10:19 a.m., the first medical personnel arrived, followed by an ambulance at 10:31 a.m.

At 10:41, half an hour after Giffords had been shot, she was transported to University Medical Center, the timeline showed. Ten minutes later, Loughner was taken to the police station.

That evening, at 6:59, a warrant was served at Loughner's home.

And sometime later, Walgreens handed over crude photos to law enforcement officials, haunting clues to a man giving significant thought to how he planned to say goodbye to his MySpace friends and make himself known to the world.

nakamurad@washpost.com horwitzs@washpost.com markonj@washpost.com

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