Sun January 9, 2011

Sheriff: Accused Shooter 'Unhinged,' Made Threats

In the wake of Saturday's shooting rampage in Arizona, a more detailed picture is emerging of Jared Lee Loughner, the man police have accused of opening fire.

Loughner, 22, who is in law enforcement custody, lives near the scene of the shooting, which killed six people and injured at least a dozen others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said there's reason to believe Loughner has "a mental issue" and described him as "unhinged." Dupnik said he believed Giffords was the target of the attack.

"As we understand it, there have been law enforcement contacts with the individual where he made threats to kill," Dupnik said during a press conference Saturday evening. But he wouldn't say who those threats were aimed at.

Police are also seeking a second, older man who may have had a role in the shooting.

Clues Online?

Loughner apparently was the source of six videos posted to YouTube in recent months. The most recent one, titled "America: Your Last Memory In A Terrorist Country!" shows a hunched-over man in a hooded sweatshirt burning an American flag in a desert landscape. The soundtrack is a song called "Let the Bodies Hit the Floor."

Other videos have long, written tirades against government, currency and grammar.

In one, he says, "The majority of citizens in the United States of America have never read the United States of America's Constitution."

In another, he says "I can't trust the current government because of the ratifications: The government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar."

He calls teachers "con artists" and talks about distributing currency lethally to people.

In one video he claims to be a military recruit, but an Army spokesman said Saturday that Loughner applied for the military and was rejected.

A Motive?

So far, law enforcement officials aren't saying what they believe may have motivated the shooting spree.

Arizona has been the center of some of the hottest debates in the country about health care and illegal immigration. And Dupnik seemed to suggest that the passion surrounding those debates may have spurred on the shooter.

At one point, the sheriff called Arizona the capital of anger, hatred and bigotry, and he said unbalanced people can respond to that in dangerous ways.

A Second Man Sought

Dupnik said Saturday that law enforcement has reason to believe Loughner came to the grocery store with another individual who may in some way be involved but not as a shooter.

"As much as we would like to find this person, and we have pictures of him, at some point in the near future hopefully we'll be allowed to provide the public with that."

Later Dupnik gave a bit more information, saying that the other suspect is a white male, possibly in his 50s. But he said police don't know the man's identity. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.