PHOENIX — Documents released Wednesday detailing the shooting of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords show how the gunman had grown increasingly erratic and delusional in the months leading up to the rampage as he alienated friends and family and became paranoid that police were out to get him.
The roughly 2,700 pages included witness and survivor accounts from people who helped save Giffords’ life after she was shot in the head outside a Tucson supermarket in 2011 during a meet-and-greet with constituents. Six people were killed and 11 were wounded.
The files also provide the first glimpse into gunman Jared Lee Loughner’s family. His parents have said nothing publicly beyond a brief statement after the attack, but records show they were trying to deal with a son who had grown nearly impossible to communicate with.
“I tried to talk to him. But you can’t. He wouldn’t let you,” his father, Randy Loughner, told police. “Lost, lost and just didn’t want to communicate with me no more.”
“Sometimes you’d hear him in his room, like, having conversations,” said his mother, Amy Loughner. “And sometimes he would look like he was having a conversation with someone right there, be talking to someone. I don’t know how to explain it.”
Randy Loughner said his 24-year-old son had never been diagnosed with mental illness. Despite recommendations from officials at Pima Community College, which expelled Loughner, that he undergo a mental evaluation, his parents never followed up.
However, Loughner’s parents grew worried enough about their son that they drug tested him.
The results were negative, said Amy Loughner, who was particularly worried that her son might have been using methamphetamine.
She said Loughner had told his parents that he had not had a drink of alcohol in five months, but that he had tried marijuana and cocaine in the past.
The father said his son kept journals, but they were written in an indecipherable script.
Several weeks before the shooting, Loughner visited Anthony Kuck, who had known him since preschool. Kuck said he was alarmed to find that Loughner had shaved his head and was armed with a handgun.
“I kicked him out of my house because he showed me his gun,” Kuck told police, adding that Loughner said he bought it for protection.
“I tried to talk to him about why it’s not smart to have a gun,” Kuck said. “He obviously didn’t listen to me.”
News organizations seeking the records were repeatedly denied access in the months after the shooting and the arrest of Loughner, who was sentenced in November to seven consecutive life sentences, plus 140 years, after he pleaded guilty to 19 federal charges.