In videos, details of shooting emerge

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Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, January 19, 2011

TUCSON - Authorities have analyzed nearly two dozen surveillance videos in the massive investigation of accused Tucson killer Jared Lee Loughner, some of which clearly show a gunman shooting federal Judge John Roll in the back as he and an injured congressional aide try to scramble under a table, officials who have viewed the footage said Tuesday.

It also shows the gunman walking toward Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and firing his first bullet into her face from two to three feet away, the officials said; he then blasts 31 more shots in a span of no more than 15 seconds. Doctors initially said the first bullet entered Giffords's head from the back, but they have since said it struck her above the left eye, and the footage leaves little doubt of that.

The videos - taken by cameras stationed inside and outside a Safeway where six died in the Jan. 8 rampage - offer the most detailed picture yet of the mayhem that left Giffords gravely wounded and 12 others injured. The images, which have not previously been described in detail, offer glimpses of Loughner inside the store, where investigators believe he made final preparations for the shootings. They also show him walking toward the area outside where Giffords was staging a constituent event, said Richard Kastigar, chief of operations and investigations for the Pima County Sheriff's Department.

Kastigar's account was confirmed by a second law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing criminal probe.

One video shows Loughner talking to a clerk while pointing to his ears to signal that he cannot hear, the officials said. Authorities believe he went into the store bathroom and put on earplugs before the shootings.

The videos are considered powerful evidence in building a criminal case against Loughner, 22, but state and federal authorities are working on numerous fronts. More than 250 federal agents and 130 local detectives have conducted more than 300 interviews since the rampage. They have carefully tracked bullets misfired into the Safeway window and the store's 7-Up display, and even found one in a woman's purse, authorities said.

The FBI also has confiscated two hard drives and a safe found in Loughner's room. Kastigar and the other official declined to say what was found on the computer drives.

Authorities interviewed Loughner's parents after breaking down a barricaded rear door to gain entry into their low-slung suburban home, where they have largely been in seclusion since the shootings.

They've also heard from friends who suspected that Loughner was becoming unhinged and were fearful. One friend of the suspect recently told investigators that, between Christmas and New Year's Day, Loughner showed him a gun and told him he needed it "for protection around the house," Kastigar said. The friend did not report the incident until he heard of Loughner's arrest.

Yet despite 11 days of extensive work, authorities remain stumped about the suspect's possible motives, according to dozens of law enforcement officials, witnesses, victims and Loughner associates interviewed by The Washington Post.

Loughner's parents, Randy and Amy, have told investigators that they had little recent contact with their son. Authorities are looking into an incident the morning of the shooting, when Randy Loughner chased his son into the desert after spotting him with a black bag believed to hold ammunition. They also are examining whether the parents provided money that Loughner used to buy a gun and ammunition.

With little help coming from the immediate family, investigators are probing associates and witnesses for details that could help them fill out the "jigsaw puzzle" of Loughner's life, as one source described it.


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