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Loughner Was Stopped, Warned About Running Red Light Saturday Morning

Neighbors watch the media outside the Loughner home in Tucson.
Ross D. Franklin
Neighbors watch the media outside the Loughner home in Tucson.

"A wildlife officer pulled over the suspect in the assassination attempt against an Arizona congresswoman less than three hours before the deadly attack," the Associated Press writes.

The wire service adds that:

"Jared Loughner ran a red light but was let off with a warning at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, the Arizona Game and Fish Department said. The officer took Loughner's driver's license and vehicle registration information but found no outstanding warrants on Loughner or his vehicle.

The Game and Fish Department has released this statement:

"PHOENIX - An Arizona Game and Fish Department officer made a traffic stop contact with Jared Loughner at approximately 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011. The stop was made when the subject ran a red light.

"Arizona Game and Fish officers are fully sworn and trained peace officers with statewide authority for law enforcement. They do not routinely make traffic stops, except when public safety is at risk, such as running a red light. The officer took Mr. Loughner’s driver’s license and vehicle registration information and ran it through dispatch. The check came back with no wants nor any outstanding warrants on either the subject or his vehicle. The subject was issued a verbal warning and released.

"The officer’s actions were consistent with policy and training of the Arizona Game and Fish Department. The officer and the Department are cooperating fully with the FBI and Pima County Sheriff’s Department investigations into the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others. Neither the Department nor the officer will make any further public statements except/unless the officer is called to testify during trial(s) of Mr. Loughner."

And more details are emerging about Loughner's movements in the hours before the attack that left six people dead and another 13 with gunshot wounds, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ).

The Arizona Republic writes that "on the morning of the shooting, a mumbling Jared Loughner fled after his father asked him why he was removing a black bag from the trunk of a family car, said [Pima Count Sheriff's Department Capt. Chris] Nanos and Rick Kastigar, chief of the department's investigations bureau. Investigators are still searching for the bag."

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.