Loughner Exhibited Odd Behavior Hours Before Mass Shooting
By Michael Martinez, CNN
(CNN) — Jared Loughner broke down and cried to an Arizona Game and Fish officer when he was pulled over for running a red light just hours before his 2011 shooting rampage.
Officer Alen Edward Forney gave Loughner a verbal warning, according to police investigative documents released to media Wednesday.
“It’s bad for your health, you’re gonna kill somebody, you’re gonna kill yourself,” Forney told Loughner, according to a transcript of Forney’s statements to investigators.
“I said, ‘I’m not gonna write you a citation for this.’ And when I said that to him, his face got kinda screwed up and, and he started to cry.
“That struck me as a little odd,” Forney continued. “So I asked him if he was OK. And he said, ‘Yeah, I’m OK, I’ve just had a rough time and I really thought I was gonna get a ticket and I’m really glad that you’re not.’”
Vivid details are emerging about the events surrounding the January 2011 mass shooting at a Tucson, Arizona, grocery store that killed six people and wounded 13 more. Among those wounded was U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head but survived with a brain injury.
Loughner, 24, is in prison for the rest of his life without the possibility of parole after he pleaded guilty last year to 19 charges in exchange for the government not seeking the death penalty.
Authorities released Wednesday hundreds of pages of investigative documents into the Tucson shooting.
Kenneth Veeder, a bystander to the shooting, suffered a gunshot wound to the calf as he was talking to a family lined up to meet Giffords. Veeder, a Vietnam War combat officer who served three tours of duty, was wearing an Infinity Airborne shirt.
“I heard pop, pop, pop, pop,” Veeder said.
Loughner was running and knocked him down, he said.
When Loughner was reloading his gun, one man grabbed him, and Veeder grabbed Loughner’s gun that fell to the ground, Veeder said.
Veeder wanted to reload the gun, but a woman talked him out of it.
“She goes, ‘You can’t do that,’” Veeder said. “The hell I can’t — because I would have shot him. That’s how angry I was. It was a combat reaction,” he said.
Deputy Sheriff Thomas Audetat Jr. recounted how he arrested Loughner. He saw two or three people holding down Loughner on a sidewalk between a Safeway grocery and Walgreens.
Audetat put his knee on Loughner’s back and handcuffed him.
A bullet had earlier grazed the left side of the head of one person holding down Loughner, Audetat said. Right behind him was a woman who was also a gunshot victim.
Audetat searched Loughner.
“In his left front pocket, I found two magazines which I immediately observed to be for a Glock,” Audetat said. “I was not sure of the caliber at that point, but they were Glock magazines and they were both fully loaded.”
Audetat also found a foldable knife with a 4-inch blade in Loughner’s front pocket.
Loughner said he was feeling hot, so the deputy removed Loughner’s beanie and hooded sweatshirt.
“At that point, he said, ‘I just want you to know that I’m the only person that knew about this.’ That was the only thing, pretty much, that he said to me almost all day,” Audetat said.
Audetat found Loughner wearing earplugs, and Loughner also stated several times that he pleaded the Fifth Amendment, documents said.
Earlier in the day, when Forney pulled over Loughner driving a dark-colored Chevy, Loughner removed a bandana from his head.
“At first, because he had the bandana on I couldn’t tell if it was a male or a female,” Forney told a Pima County Sheriff’s detective and an FBI agent. “He took it off and, uh, my first thought honestly was well maybe this guy’s going through chemo or something because he was that bald.”
Loughner said he was heading home and understood why he was being pulled over.
When Forney asked him where he was driving from, “He said, ‘Oh, I’m just kinda driving around,’” Forney said.
Forney decided not to write Loughner a ticket. “Game and Fish doesn’t write a lot of traffic citations,” Forney said.
Forney was also in a hurry to get to a patrol, he said.
Loughner “caused me no reason to think that there was anything wrong,” Forney said.
After Loughner’s first crying bout, Forney was worried whether Loughner could drive safely.
“So I again asked him if he was OK,” Forney said, according to a transcript. “He composed himself, and only cried, just momentarily.
“I again asked him if he was OK, he said he was fine,” Forney said. “I said ‘Well, you know I need to make sure that you’re gonna be OK to drive.’”
Loughner looked up and asked if he could thank Forney.
Loughner then shook Forney’s hand.
“I again made sure that he was OK. I asked him … three or four times. He was probably getting tired of me asking if he was OK,” Forney said.
“He said yeah, he was fine. He was just heading home, it wasn’t too far away and he’d be OK,” Forney said.
Two-and-a-half hours later, Loughner opened fire on a crowd of people at an outdoor event where Giffords was greeting constituents.
When Forney got home that night and heard about the shooting, he went online, he said.
“I opened up the Internet and there was his picture,” Forney said. “Man, my heart just went up in my throat.”
CNN’s Deanna Hackney, Stan Wilson, Dugald McConnell, Shawn Nottingham, Emily Blakemore and Brian Todd contributed to this report.