Loughner appears in federal court

Members of Congress and their staffs gather for a national moment of silence in honor of the victims of Saturday's mass shooting in Tucson.
Members of Congress and their staffs gather for a national moment of silence in honor of the victims of Saturday's mass shooting in Tucson. (Chip Somodevilla)
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, January 11, 2011

PHOENIX - Arizona shooting suspect Jared Loughner made an initial appearance in a federal courtroom here Monday, while 100 miles away in Tucson a team of doctors watched Rep. Gabrielle Giffords enter a crucial phase of her recovery from a gunshot wound.

Loughner, 22, had a shaved head and a cut on his right temple as he appeared in court, and new details emerged about his life and the difficulties he had with his family.

Loughner faces five federal counts, including two charges of murder. In all, the rampage left six people dead, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl, and 14 injured.

More than a dozen federal marshals stood by as Magistrate Judge Lawrence O. Anderson listed the potential punishments Loughner faces if convicted, including life in prison and the death penalty.

Anderson asked the suspect if he understood. Loughner leaned into the microphone and answered calmly: "Yes."

In Tucson, doctors said that the 40-year-old congresswoman's condition had not changed since Sunday. "At this stage in the game, no change is good, and we have no change," Michael Lemole, chief of neurosurgery at University Medical Center, said in a news briefing at the hospital.

In Washington on Monday, President Obama and congressional leaders paused to honor the victims of Saturday's shootings. The president plans to attend a memorial service in Tucson on Wednesday.

As Loughner appeared in court, acquaintances in Arizona revealed new details about his past few years - in which an increasingly erratic Loughner distanced himself from family members and friends and made decisions that sabotaged his ambitions.

"What Jared did was wrong. But people need to know about him," said Roxanne Osler of Tucson, whose son had been a friend of Loughner's. "I wish people would have taken a better notice of him and gotten him help. . . . He had nobody, and that's not a nice place to be."

Osler and her husband, George, said Loughner told them he had a severely troubled relationship with his parents. George Osler recalled an incident around 2008 in which Loughner's parents appeared at his door in the early morning. They said that their son - then about 20 - had left home and that they hadn't seen him in days, Osler said. Osler's son told Loughner's parents that they could find him at a nearby motel.

Loughner's parents have not made any public statements since their son was arrested on Saturday.

Roxanne Osler said that Loughner, who visited to play guitar with her son, was more formal and polite with her than her son's other friends were. She said he made a point to thank her for having him over. "He craved not only my son's attention, but my attention," she said.

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