- Associated Press - Sunday, February 20, 2011

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Randy Loughner was always reclusive, but since his son’s alleged shooting rampage last month, the father has shut himself behind what one neighbor calls “an elaborate cage.”

In recent weeks, Mr. Loughner has built a substantial wooden enclosure, more than 6 feet high, obscuring his front door and windows. The four horizontal windows on the garage door have been papered over, the diamond-shaped openings atop the block wall to his back yard closed off with little plywood plugs.

Even the white mailbox out front has been replaced by a heavy black steel one with a locked drawer.

“He was already secluded, so he was already set up for it, and used to it,” says Stephen Woods, who lives in the house to the left of Amy and Randy Loughner‘s. “So I imagine it’s not bothering him much. I don’t think his life has changed that much.”

But life undoubtedly has changed.

Until Jan. 8, the couple’s 22-year-old son, Jared Lee, shared the modest beige block-and-brick home where the couple have lived for nearly three decades. Now, he sits in a cell, facing federal charges of attempting to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and two of her aides. Six people, including a federal judge, were killed and 13 wounded in the shooting during a Giffords meeting with constituents outside a Tucson grocery store, and more charges are expected.

Except for a brief written statement, the Loughners have kept their silence. They have not returned messages left by the Associated Press, and relatives have also refused to talk.

Some thought the couple had moved away from the 1,400-square-foot home where they raised their only child, but then neighbors began hearing the hammers and saws.

Ron Johnson has seen the elder Mr. Laughner coming and going in his El Camino, one of several vintage cars he owns.

“He comes out after dark,” said Mr. Johnson, who lives in the house directly across from the Loughners but who hasn’t even tried to speak with them in ages. “He comes out of that garage, closes it and scoots down that highway.”

Mr. Johnson said he tried to be friendly with the family. He would see Mr. Loughner — who was once in construction but now appears not to work — watering his plants or sweeping the driveway and would try to strike up a conversation.

Mr. Loughner wouldn’t even look him in the eye.

“On the other hand, he’s probably the best neighbor I ever had,” Mr. Johnson said with a chuckle. “He doesn’t talk to you and doesn’t borrow” stuff.

George Gayan, 82, has lived on the Loughners’ right for nearly 30 years. When Jared was 3 or 4, he would come over to play with Mr. Gayan’s great-grandson. Amy Loughner, who works for the county parks department, sometimes would accompany him.

But Mr. Gayan has never been in the Loughner home, and Randy Loughner has never been in his.

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