Police recover black bag, ammunition believed to belong to Tucson suspect

By David Nakamura and Sari Horwitz
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, January 13, 2011; 9:29 PM

TUCSON - The black bag that alleged Tucson gunman Jared Loughner is said to have had with him in the hours before last weekend's shootings turned up Thursday in a dry stream bed near his neighborhood. It was a diaper bag, authorities said, and it contained ammunition that matched the type used in the attack.

A law enforcement official said its contents also included receipts and papers, leads that are being pursued as part of a criminal investigation that seeks to examine virtually every aspect of Loughner's 22 years.

The materials recovered from the bag "don't lead to a motive," Richard Kastigar, bureau chief of the Pima County Sheriff's Department, said on CNN, "but tell us a relationship between what's in the bag and what happened Saturday . . . and some indication where he was and what he was doing."

Loughner is accused of opening fire outside a Tucson grocery store Saturday in a rampage that killed six people and wounded 13. Among the injured is Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). Loughner is being held in federal custody without bond.

Loughner's father, Randy, has told police that he confronted his son on Saturday morning as he removed the bag from the trunk of a family car. Jared Loughner ran, and his father chased him in a car but lost sight of him, law enforcement officials have said.

A man walking his dog in the desert near Loughner's neighborhood found the diaper bag and gave it to a neighbor, who called police, said Capt. Chris Nanos of the sheriff's office. Police examined the bag and called in the FBI to further analyze it, Nanos said.

The sheriff's office said in a statement that it is a "diaper bag resembling a backpack and contained 9mm ammunition."

Police have said Loughner, apprehended at the scene of the attack, was carrying a Glock 19 semiautomatic with two clips of 31 bullets apiece, two more clips with 15 bullets apiece and a knife. Police had been searching for the black bag since the weekend.

About 250 FBI agents and analysts are working on the case. FBI Special Agent Jason Pack declined to discuss specifics but said: "We are pursuing all of Loughner's associates and all his movements for the last 22 years. We're examining who he knows, running down every lead and trying to collect all the information we can."

The black bag surfaced as some mental health advocates criticized Pima Community College, where Loughner went to school, for not intervening more aggressively last year as Loughner's behavior became increasingly erratic. The college released records Wednesday showing that teachers called campus police because of concerns involving Loughner five times, starting in January 2010, before he was suspended in late September.

In one instance, according to the documents, after a poem was read in class, Loughner asked, "Why don't we just strap bombs to babies?" Although he saw counselors on at least two occasions and records show that campus police registered their concern that he may be mentally ill, the records indicate that he received no referral for mental health evaluation or treatment.

"People were afraid of him and found a way to exclude him until he would come back with a letter from psychiatrist," said Harvey Rosenthal, a New York-based mental health advocate who operates a rehabilitation services center. "That's not the kind of outreach and engagement people deserve."

A phone call and e-mail to Pima Community College were not returned late Thursday.

Also Thursday, new details emerged about an episode in which Loughner was kicked out of a job center in Pima County after refusing to stop videotaping the staff, according to a complaint filed by an employee.

On Sept. 29, 2010, Loughner entered the Rio Nuevo One Stop center to see a job counselor. He was carrying a video recorder and taking pictures, according to the complaint report filed by Mary Brodesky. After being asked more than once to turn off the recorder, Loughner put it in his pocket but left it on, she wrote.

"I asked him to turn it off. He refused," Brodesky wrote. "He pulled a crumpled copy of the Constitution out of his pocket and waived [sic] it at me, saying it was his right. I attempted to calm him down but eventually had to ask him to leave the building."

The complaint was first reported Thursday by the Arizona Daily Star based on documents obtained by an open records request. The Washington Post independently obtained the documents Thursday.

nakamurad@washpost.com horwitzs@washpost.com

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