Police visited Loughner’s home even before rampage

via: nytimes.com

This article is by Jo Becker, Kirk Johnson and Serge F. Kovaleski

TUCSON — The police were sent to the home where Jared L. Loughner lived with his family on more than one occasion before the attack here on Saturday that left a congresswoman fighting for her life and six others dead, the Pima County Sheriff’s Department said on Tuesday.

A spokesman, Jason Ogan, said the details of the calls were being reviewed by legal counsel and would be released as soon as the review was complete. He said he did not know what the calls were about — they could possibly have been minor, even trivial matters — or whether they involved Jared Loughner or another member of the household.

A friend of Mr. Loughner’s also said in an interview on Tuesday that Mr. Loughner, 22, was skilled with a gun — as early as high school — and had talked about a philosophy of fostering chaos.

The news of police involvement with the Loughners suggests that county sheriff’s deputies were at least familiar with the family, even if the reason for their visits was unclear as of Tuesday night.

The account by Mr. Loughner’s friend, a rare extended interview with someone close to Mr. Loughner in recent years, added some details to the emerging portrait of the suspect and his family.

“He was a nihilist and loves causing chaos, and that is probably why he did the shooting, along with the fact he was sick in the head,” said Zane Gutierrez, 21, who was living in a trailer outside Tucson and met Mr. Loughner sometimes to shoot at cans for target practice.

The Loughner family released a statement on Tuesday, its first since the attacks, expressing — in a six-line document handed to reporters outside their house — sorrow for the losses experienced by the victims and their families.

“It may not make any difference, but we wish that we could change the heinous events of Saturday,” the statement said. “There are no words that can possibly express how we feel. We wish that there were, so we could make you feel better.”

The new details from Mr. Gutierrez about Mr. Loughner — including his philosophy of anarchy and his expertise with a handgun, suggest that the earliest signs of behavior that may have ultimately led to the attacks started several years ago.

Mr. Gutierrez said his friend had become obsessed with the meaning of dreams and their importance. He talked about reading Friedrich Nietzsche’s book “The Will To Power” and embraced ideas about the corrosive, destructive effects of nihilism — a belief in nothing. And every day, his friend said, Mr. Loughner would get up and write in his dream journal, recording the world he experienced in sleep and its possible meanings.

“Jared felt nothing existed but his subconscious,” Mr. Gutierrez said. “The dream world was what was real to Jared, not the day-to-day of our lives.”

And that dream world, his friend said, could be downright strange.

“He would ask me constantly, ‘Do you see that blue tree over there?’ He would admit to seeing the sky as orange and the grass as blue,” Mr. Gutierrez said. “Normal people don’t talk about that stuff.”

He added that Mr. Loughner “used the word hollow to describe how fake the real world was to him.”

As his behavior grew more puzzling to his friends, he was getting better with a pistol. Starting in high school, Mr. Loughner honed his marksmanship with a 9-millimeter pistol, the same caliber weapon used in the attack Saturday, until he became proficient at handling the weapon and firing it quickly.

“If he had a gun pointed at me, there is nothing I could do because he would make it count,” Mr. Gutierrez said. “He was quick.”

He also said that Mr. Loughner had increasing trouble interacting in social settings — during one party, for instance, Mr. Loughner retreated upstairs alone to a room and was found reading a dictionary.

Jared Loughner’s retreat — whether into the desert with his gun, or into the recesses of his dreams — coincided with a broader retreat by the Loughner family that left them increasingly isolated from their community, neighbors said. Next Page »

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